I heard a man say a poem once,
he said, ‘All that lives is holy.’
The Grapes of Wrath
Be. And, at the same time, know what it is not to be.
That emptiness inside you allows you to vibrate in resonance with your world. Use it for once.
To all that has run its course, and to the vast unsayable numbers of beings abounding in Nature, add yourself gladly, and cancel the cost.
–Rainer Maria Rilke
Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, VIII
Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy translation
There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will.
This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us.
It is so to speak his name written in us … like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven.
It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely.
I have no program for this seeing. It is only given.But the gate of heaven is everywhere.
This is how the wind shifts:
Like the thoughts of an old human,
Who still thinks eagerly
The wind shifts like this:
Like a human without illusions,
Who still feels irrational things within her.
The wind shifts like this:
Like humans approaching proudly,
Like humans approaching angrily.
This is how the wind shifts:
Like a human, heavy and heavy,
Who does not care.
I used to sit in the cafe of existentialism,
lost in a blue cloud of cigarette smoke,
contemplating the suicide a tiny Frenchman
might commit by leaping from the rim of my brandy glass.
I used to hunger to be engaged
as I walked the long shaded boulevards,
eyeing women of all nationalities,
a difficult paperback riding in my raincoat pocket.
But these days I like my ontology in an armchair,
a rope hammock, or better still, a warm bath
in a cork-lined room--disengaged, soaking
in the calm, restful waters of speculation.
Afternoons, when I leave the house
for the woods, I think of Aquinas at his desk,
fingers interlocked upon his stomach,
as he deduces another proof for God's existence,
intricate as the branches of these bare November trees.
And as I kick through the leaves and snap
the windfallen twigs, I consider Leibniz on his couch
reaching the astonishing conclusion that monads,
those windowless units of matter, must have souls.
But when I finally reach the top of the hill
and sit down on the flat tonnage of this boulder,
I think of Spinoza, most rarefied of them all.
I look beyond the treetops and the distant ridges
and see him sitting in a beam of Dutch sunlight
slowly stirring his milky tea with a spoon.
Since dawn he has been at his bench grinding lenses,
but now he is leaving behind the saucer and table,
the smokey chimneys and tile roofs of Amsterdam,
even the earth itself, pale blue, aqueous,
cloud-enshrined, titled back on the stick of its axis.
He is rising into that high dome of thought
where loose pages of Shelley float on the air,
where all the formulas of calculus unravel,
tumbling in the radiance of a round Platonic sun--
that zone just below the one where angels accelerate
and the ampitheatrical rose of Dante unfolds.
And now I stand up on the ledge to salute you, Spinoza,
and when I whistle to the dog and start down the hill,
I can feel the thick glass of your eyes upon me
as I step from the rock to glacial rock, and on her
as she sniffs her way through the leaves,
her tail straight back, her body low to the ground.
The Art of Drowning
From outside my house,only the faint distant soundof gentle breezeswandering through bamboo leavesin the long evening silence.
Late evening finallycomes: I unlatch the doorand quietlyawait the onewho greets me in my dreams.
–Otomo No Yakamochi
. images - Nordin Seruyan, central Borneo .
All things in this creation exist within you, and all things in you exist in creation; there is no border between you and the closest things, and there is no distance between you and the farthest things, and all things, from the lowest to the loftiest, from the smallest to the greatest, are within you as equal things.
In one atom are found all the elements of the earth; in one motion of the mind are found the motions of all the laws of existence; in one drop of water are found the secrets of all the endless oceans; in one aspect of you are found all the aspects of existence.
Different places on the face of the earth have different vital effluence, a different vibration of chemical exhalation, a different polarity with the stars; call it what you like.
But the spirit of a place is a great reality.
—D. H. Lawrence
Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill — more of each
than you have — inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.
Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.
The wild up here is not creatures, wooded,
tangled wild. It is absence wild.
Barren, empty, stone wild. Worn-away wild.
Only the smell of weeds and hot air.
But a place where differences are clear.
Between the mind’s severity and its harshness.
Between honesty and the failure of belief.
A man said no person is educated who knows
only one language, for he cannot distinguish
between his thought and the English version.
Up here he is translated to a place where it is
possible to discriminate between age and sorrow.
Be a person here. Stand by the river, invoke
the owls. Invoke winter, then spring.
Let any season that wants to come here make its own
call. After that sound goes away, wait.
A slow bubble rises through the earth
and begins to include sky, stars, all space,
even the outracing, expanding thought.
Come back and hear the little sound again.
Suddenly this dream you are having matches
everyone's dream, and the result is the world.
If a different call came there wouldn't be any
world, or you, or the river, or the owls calling.
How you stand here is important. How you
listen for the next things to happen. How you breathe.
Even in Quiet Places: Poems
There is a place you can go
where you are quiet,
a place of water and the light
on the water. Trees are there,
leaves, and the light
on leaves moved by air.
Birds, singing, move
among leaves, in leaf shadow.
After many years you have come
to no thought of these,
but they are themselves
your thoughts. There seems to be
little to say, less and less.
Here they are. Here you are.
Here as though gone.
None of us stays, but in the hush
where each leaf in the speech
of leaves is a sufficient syllable
the passing light finds out
surpassing freedom of its way.
Without imagination there is no world. Your conviction that you are conscious of a world is the world. The world you perceive is made of consciousness; what you call matter is consciousness itself.
You are the space in which it moves, the time in which it lasts, the love that gives it life. Cut off imagination and attachment and what remains?
–Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj*
There's a tree walking around in the rain,
it rushes past us in the pouring grey.
It has an errand. It gathers life
out of the rain like a blackbird in an orchard.
When the rain stops so does the tree.
There it is, quiet on clear nights
waiting as we do for the moment
when the snowflakes blossom in space.
'The President. The 3200 year old tree so massive that it had never been captured in a single image until recently.
This giant sequoia stands 247 feet tall and measures 45,000 cubic feet in volume. The trunk alone measures 27 feet and the branches hold 2 billion needles (more than any tree on the planet).
This picture took a team of photographers from Nat Geo, 32 days and stitching together 126 different photos to make.
"i love redwoods because they are at the very limit of what the dynamics of capillary action allows to exist."'
The Brain—is wider than the Sky—For—put them side by side—The one the other will containWith ease—and You—beside—The Brain is deeper than the sea—For—hold them—Blue to Blue—The one the other will absorb—As Sponges—Buckets—do—The Brain is just the weight of God—For—Heft them—Pound for Pound—And they will differ—if they do—As Syllable from Sound—
By itself nothing has existence.
Everything needs its own absence.
To be is to be distinguishable, to be here and not there,
to be now and not then, to be thus and not otherwise.
Like water is shaped by the container, so is everything
determined by conditions (gunas).
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.
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.
The Nature of Consciousness
You cannot understand life and its mysteries as long as you try to grasp it. Indeed, you cannot grasp it, just as you cannot walk off with a river in a bucket.
If you try to capture running water in a bucket, it is clear that you do not understand it and that you will always be disappointed, for in the bucket the water does not run.
To “have” running water you must let go of it and let it run.