Friday, September 17, 2021

unwritten signs



A forest is what exists between its trees, between its dense undergrowth and its clearings, between all its life cycles and their different time-scales, ranging from solar energy to insects that live for a day. 

A forest is also a meeting place between those who enter it and something unnameable and attendant, waiting behind a tree or in the undergrowth. Something intangible and within touching distance. Neither silent nor audible. 

It is not only visitors who feel this attendant something; hunters and foresters who can read unwritten signs are even more keenly aware of it. 

—John Berger
Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance 


journey of the breath



Of the two spoiled, barn-sour geldings
we owned that year, it was Red—
skittish and prone to explode
even at fourteen years—who'd let me
hold my face to his own: the massive labyrinthine
caverns of the nostrils, the broad plain
up the head to the eyes.

He'd let me stroke 
his coarse chin whiskers and take
his soft meaty underlip
in my hands, press my man's carnivorous
kiss to his grass-nipping under half of one,

just so that I could smell
the long way his breath had come from the rain
and the sun, the lungs and the heart, 
from a world that meant no harm. 

—Robert Wrigley
Kissing a Horse


pray without ceasing




What I wear is pants.

What I do is live.

How I pray is breathe.

—Thomas Merton 

. . .

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


Thursday, September 16, 2021

If we were on a star, what would we see of that which exists on the earth?



If we found ourselves on a star, and if, from there we could see the life on our planet, we should not see modern civilization. We should for example see the events occurring in Egypt in the time of the Paraohs. 

—Alexander Ananoff

. . .

Although the interval of time that ... elapses between the moment when we perceive the image of an object and that at which it "left" may be infinitely short, the principle involved is the same as that which relates to the thousands of years taken by the image of the star to reach us.

In both cases the conclusion is: "those things we see are images of the past".
Is there any reason for lingering to discuss problems of this kind? –The Masters who inculcate the Secret Teachings do not think so ... the objects providing the subject on which our cleverness is exercised have no real existence.

What has to be understood is that theories and doctrines of all kinds are the fabrication of our mind.

—Alexandra David-Néel
The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects


Reality is a cliché from which we escape by metaphor. —Wallace Stevens



In the end, we self-perceiving, self-inventing, locked-in mirages are little miracles of self-reference.  We believe in marbles that disintegrate when we search for them but that are as real as any genuine marble when we’re not looking for them.  Our very nature is such as to prevent us from fully understanding its very nature. 

Poised midway between the unvisualizable cosmic vastness of curved spacetime and the dubious, shadowy flickerings of charged quanta, we human beings, more like rainbows and mirages than like raindrops or boulders, are unpredictable self-writing poems – vague, metaphorical, ambiguous, and sometimes exceedingly beautiful.

—Douglas Hofstadter

I Am a Strange Loop





Do not go about worshipping deities and religious institutions as the source of the subtle truth. To do so is to place intermediaries between yourself and the divine, and to make of yourself a beggar who looks outside for a treasure that is hidden inside his own breast. If you want to worship the Tao, first discover it in your own heart. Then your worship will be meaningful.

—Hua Hu Ching

. . .

Moments, crumbs, fleeting configurations—no sooner have they come into existence than they fall to pieces. Life? There’s no such thing; I see lines, planes, and bodies, and they’re transformations in time. 
Time, meanwhile, seems a simple instrument for the measurement of tiny changes, a school ruler with a simplified scale—it’s just three points: was, is, and will be.

—Olga Tokarczuk

. . .

There is no alternative for you but to accept the world as unreal, 
if you are seeking the Truth and the Truth alone.

—Ramana Maharshi 


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

the final reality



Chronological time is what we measure by clocks and calendars; it is always linear, orderly, quantifiable, and mechanical. Kairotic time is organic, rhythmic, bodily, leisurely, and aperiodic; it is the inner cadence that brings fruit to ripeness, a woman to childbirth, a man to change his direction in life.

—Sam Keen

. . .

To search the final reality of stone beyond the accident of time, I seek the love of matter. The materiality of stone, its essence, to reveal its identity—not what might be imposed but something closer to its being. 
Beneath the skin is the brilliance of matter.

—Isamu Noguchi
Listening to Stone: The Art and Life of Isamu Noguchi, Hayden Herrera






Magic, then in its most primordial sense, is the experience of existing in a world made up of multiple intelligences, the intuition that every form that one perceives—from the swallow swooping overhead to the fly on a blade of grass, and indeed the blade of grass itself—is an experiencing form, an entity with its own predilections and sensations, albeit sensations that are different from our very own.

—David Abram 

. . .

In a state of grace, one sometimes perceives the deep beauty, hitherto unattainable, of another person. And everything acquires a kind of halo which is not imaginary: it comes from the splendor of the almost mathematical light emanating from people and things. One starts to feel that everything in existence—whether people or things—breathes and exhales the subtle light of energy. The world’s truth is impalpable.

—Clarice Lispector
Selected Crônicas

. . .

The sensibility in perceiving all things as a sign of the Mystery is the tranquil truth of the human being.

—Fr. Giussani


zeroes on the loose



Eternity isn’t some later time. Eternity isn’t a long time. Eternity has nothing to do with time. Eternity is that dimension of here and now which thinking and time cuts out. This is it. And if you don’t get it here, you won’t get it anywhere. And the experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life.

—Joseph Campbell

. . .

I prefer zeroes on the loose
to those lined up behind a cipher.
I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.
I prefer to knock on wood.
I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility
that existence has its own reason for being.

—Wislawa Szymborska

. . .

The sun turns like a pinwheel.
It counts
its radiant, radioactive petals, ending always
in ‘love,’ an odd number—

—Oni Buchanan


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

... it is all a great strange dream. —Jack Kerouac



The fundamental illusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here
and you are out there. 

—Yasutani Roshi

. . .

Forms within the universe, whether galaxies, human beings or trees, are generated as an expression of vast forces at work within a holistic framework. Separateness, fragmentation, and disconnection are all illusions … Wholeness is never lost, and the Health within the human system, which is a manifestation of this unity, is also never lost.

—John Upledger

. . .

Perhaps a god is deceiving me.

Perhaps a god has sentenced me to time, that lasting illusion. 

I dream the moon and I dream my eyes perceiving the moon.

—Jorge Luis Borges


you, neighbor god


You, neighbor god, if sometimes in the night
I rouse you with loud knocking, I do so
only because I seldom hear you breathe
and know: you are alone.
And should you need a drink, no one is there
to reach it to you, groping in the dark.
Always I hearken. Give but a small sign.
I am quite near.

Between us there is but a narrow wall,
and by sheer chance; for it would take
merely a call from your lips or from mine
to break it down,
and that without a sound.

The wall is builded of your images.

They stand before you hiding you like names.
And when the light within me blazes high
that in my inmost soul I know you by,
the radiance is squandered on their frames.

And then my senses, which too soon grow lame,
exiled from you, must go their homeless ways.

—Rainer Maria Rilke 
Poems from the Book of Hours 






This is the first thing
I have understood:

Time is the echo of an axe

Within a wood.

—Philip Larkin
The North Ship


Monday, September 13, 2021

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves –TNH



Do you see the space between our bodies? 
Barely a hand, hardly a breath,
it is the space mountains and rivers are made of. 

It is the beginning of oceans, the space
between either and or, both and neither,
the happiness of forgetting
our names and the happiness of hearing them
for the first time.

—Li-Young Lee
Trading for Heaven


i am



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


No.1 of 'Four Quartets'




Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.
Other echoes
Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?

Quick, said the bird, find them, find them,
Round the corner. Through the first gate,
Into our first world, shall we follow
The deception of the thrush? Into our first world.
There they were, dignified, invisible,
Moving without pressure, over the dead leaves,
In the autumn heat, through the vibrant air,
And the bird called, in response to
The unheard music hidden in the shrubbery,
And the unseen eyebeam crossed, for the roses
Had the look of flowers that are looked at.
There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting.
So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern,
Along the empty alley, into the box circle,
To look down into the drained pool.
Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged,
And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight,
And the lotus rose, quietly, quietly,
The surface glittered out of heart of light,
And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.
Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.

Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.

—T. S. Eliot


Sunday, September 12, 2021

I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. —The Little Prince



By a single thought that comes into the mind,

in one moment a hundred worlds are overturned.



the wisdom of nondiscrimination



My right hand has written all the poems
that I have composed…
My left hand has not written a single poem.
But my right hand does not think,
‘Left Hand, you are good for nothing.’ 
My right hand does not have a superiority complex.
That is why it is very happy…
My left hand does not have any complex at all.
In my two hands there is the kind of wisdom
called the wisdom of nondiscrimination.

One day I was hammering a nail
and my right hand was not very accurate
and instead of pounding on the nail
it pounded on my finger.
It put the hammer down and took care
of my left hand in a very tender way,
as if it were taking care of itself…
It did not say, ‘Left Hand, you have to remember
that I have taken good care of you
and you have to pay me back in the future.’ 
There was no such thinking…
And my left hand did not say,
‘Right Hand, you have done me a lot of harm
— give me that hammer, I want justice.’
My two hands know that they are members
of one body; they are in each other.

—Thich Nhat Hanh





Love says, 'I am everything.'

Wisdom says, 'I am nothing.'

Between these two my life flows.

—Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj


Saturday, September 11, 2021

on giving up the illusion of central position



Constantly regard the universe as one living being, having one substance and one soul; and observe how all things have reference to one perception, the perception of this one living being; and how all things act with one movement; and how all things are the cooperating causes of all things which exist; observe too the continuous spinning of the thread and the contexture of the web.

—Marcus Aurelius 
(121—180 C.E.)

. . .

To give up our imaginary position as the center, to renounce it, not only intellectually but in the imaginative part of our soul, that means to awaken to what is real and eternal, to see the true light and hear the true silence.

—Simone Weil
Waiting for God


The entire universe is to be looked upon as the Lord. —The Isha Upanishad



If you cannot feel God within, you cannot feel him without.

The first step is to feel God within.

The second step is to realize God without, to realize that God is not the creator, he is creation. He is not separate from creation. He is the force and consciousness of creation.

The world is God's dance; the world is God's play.

—Swami Dhyan Giten

. . .

Ether, air, fire, water, earth, planets, all creatures, directions, trees and plants, rivers and seas, they are all organs of God’s body. Remembering this a devotee respects all species.

—The Srimad Bhagavatam (2.2.41)


(Costing not less than everything) —T. S. Eliot, Little Gidding



Reality is merely an illusion, although a very persistent one. 

—Albert Einstein

. . .

We are like the spider. We weave our life and then move along in it.
We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream.
This is true for the entire universe.

—The Upanishads

. . .

Give up all.

The correct understanding will be when you realize that whatever you have understood so far, is invalid.

Give up all and you gain all. Then life becomes what it was meant to be: pure radiation from an inexhaustible source.

In that light the world appears dimly, like a dream.

—Nisargadatta Maharaj

. . .

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

. . .

Start seeing everything as God,

But keep it a secret.



Friday, September 10, 2021



[The Buddha] used to make monks and laypeople alike practice a certain discipline called the “immeasurables,” because it made you bigger. You sat and you sent out waves of benevolence and good wishes to the whole world, not excluding anyone from your radius of benevolence. 
It’s a radius. You have to start off when you’re totally thinking soupy, wonderful things about people far off in Africa, for example, and if you’re not getting on with your colleagues or your ex-wife or various other difficulties, you’ve got to think well of them. 
As you do so, the Buddha said, as you move out and beyond, you will find an enlargement, a transcendence. They will find that they were imbued with abundant, exalted, measureless loving kindness. And they will for a moment experience an ecstasy that takes them out of themselves above, below, around, and everywhere. 

Karen Armstrong

. . .

The collective unconscious, the same as other transpersonal phenomena, is evidence that our mind is not an isolated entity but is constantly in touch with other minds as well as with the world around us. We are never entirely detached from the outside world; never entirely enclosed within our skin. Our mind is coherent with the world, and when we do not repress the intuitions that link us with other people and with nature, we can become aware of our oneness with the universe.

—James Orocall 





Explain quantum mechanics in 5 words or less.

"Don’t look : waves.
Look : particles."

(an answer to a challenge asked by Sean Carroll on Twitter,
originally posed by physicist John Wheeler) 

. . . 

There is a lot to say about quantum mechanics, perhaps the most mysterious idea ever to be contemplated by human beings, but all we need is one simple (but hard to accept) fact: 

How the world appears when we look at it is very different from how it really is.

–Sean Carroll
The Particle at the End of the Universe - 
The Hunt for the Higgs and the Discovery of a New World


you shall not lose your way.


We had this old idea, that there was a universe out there, and here is man, the observer, safely protected from the universe by a six-inch slab of plate glass. 

Now we learn from the quantum world that even to observe so minuscule an object as an electron, we have to shatter that plate glass, we have to reach in there. 

So the old world observer simply has to be crossed off the books and we must put in the new term: participator. In this way we have come to realize that the universe is a participatory universe.

—John Wheeler

. . .

The universe is no narrow thing and the order within it is not constrained by any latitude in its conception to repeat what exists in one part in any other part. 

Even in this world more things exist without our knowledge than with it and the order in creation which you see is that which you have put there, like a string in a maze, so that you shall not lose your way. For existence has its own order and that no man’s mind can compass, that mind itself being but a fact among others.

—Cormac McCarthy
Blood Meridian, excerpt


Thursday, September 9, 2021

the vast similitude



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 version

grandmother rock, 
Patrick Smith