Sunday, May 28, 2017

parts of a tune





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One old man keeps humming the same few notes
of some song he thought he had forgotten
back in the days when as he knows there was
no word for life in the language 
and if they wanted to say eyes or heart
they would hold up a leaf and he remembers
the big tree where it rose from the dry ground
and the way the birds carried water in their voice

they were all the color of their fear of the dark

and as he sits there humming he remembers
some of the words they come back to him now

he smiles hearing them come and go


–W. S. Merwin
The Shadow of Sirius



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words for love







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Sanskrit has ninety-six words for love; ancient Persian has eighty, Greek three, and English only one. This is indicative of the poverty of awareness or emphasis that we give to that tremendously important realm of feeling.

Eskimos have thirty words for snow, because it is a life-and death matter to them to have exact information about the element they live with so intimately.

If we had a vocabulary of thirty words for love … we would immediately be richer and more intelligent in this human element so close to our heart. 

An Eskimo probably would die of clumsiness if he had only one word for snow; we are close to dying of loneliness because we have only one word for love. 

Of all the Western languages, English may be the most lacking when it come to feeling. 


–Robert Johnson
The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden




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A Brighter Word Than Bright






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Words are substance strange. Speak one and the air ripples into another's ears. Write one and the eye laps it up. But the sense transmutes, and the spoken word winds through the ear's labyrinth into a sense that is no longer the nerve's realm.

The written word unfolds behind the eye into the world, world's image, and the imagination sees as the eye cannot see - thoughtfully.


–Dan Beachy-Quick


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listen to me






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Listen to me as one listens to the rain,
not attentive, not distracted,
light footsteps, thin drizzle,
water that is air, air that is time,
the day is still leaving,
the night has yet to arrive,
figurations of mist
at the turn of the corner,
figurations of time
at the bend in this pause,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
without listening, hear what I say
with eyes open inward, asleep
with all five senses awake,
it’s raining, light footsteps, a murmur of syllables,
air and water, words with no weight:
what we are and are,
the days and years, this moment,
weightless time and heavy sorrow,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
wet asphalt is shining,
steam rises and walks away,
night unfolds and looks at me,
you are you and your body of steam,
you and your face of night,
you and your hair, unhurried lightning,
you cross the street and enter my forehead,
footsteps of water across my eyes,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
the asphalt’s shining, you cross the street,
it is the mist, wandering in the night,
it is the night, asleep in your bed,
it is the surge of waves in your breath,
your fingers of water dampen my forehead,
your fingers of flame burn my eyes,
your fingers of air open eyelids of time,
a spring of visions and resurrections,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
the years go by, the moments return,
do you hear the footsteps in the next room?
not here, not there: you hear them
in another time that is now,
listen to the footsteps of time,
inventor of places with no weight, nowhere,
listen to the rain running over the terrace,
the night is now more night in the grove,
lightning has nestled among the leaves,
a restless garden adrift—go in,
your shadow covers this page.


–Octavio Paz
 Eliot Weinberger translation




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exposed on the cliffs of the heart






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Exposed on the cliffs of the heart. Look, how tiny down there,
look: the last village of words and, higher,
(but how tiny) still one last
farmhouse of feeling. Can you see it?

Exposed on the cliffs of the heart. Stoneground
under your hands. Even here, though,
something can bloom; on a silent cliff-edge
an unknowing plant blooms, singing, into the air.

But the one who knows? Ah, he began to know
and is quiet now, exposed on the cliffs of the heart.
While, with their full awareness,
many sure-footed mountain animals pass
or linger. And the great sheltered bird flies, slowly
circling, around the peak's pure denial. - But
without a shelter, here on the cliffs of the heart...



–Rainer Maria Rilke



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Saturday, May 27, 2017

question






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Observe your own body. It breathes. 

You breathe when you are asleep, when you are no longer conscious of your own ideas of self-identity.
Who, then, is breathing? 


The collection of information that you mistakenly think is you is not the protagonist in this drama called the breath. In fact, you are not breathing; breath is naturally happening to you. 

You can purposely end your own life, but you cannot purposely keep your own life going. The expression, 'my life' is actually an oxymoron, a result of ignorance and mistaken assumption. 

You don't possess life; life expresses itself through you.
Your body is a flower that life let bloom, a phenomenon created by life.



–Ilchi Lee


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a natural history of the senses, excerpt






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Look at your feet.
You are standing in the sky.
When we think of the sky, we tend to look up,
but the sky actually begins at the earth.

We walk through it, yell into it, rake leaves,
wash the dog, and drive cars in it.

We breathe it deep within us.

With every breath, we inhale millions of molecules of sky, heat them briefly, and then exhale them back into the world.


–Diane Ackerman



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Being a Person






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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.


–William Stafford
Even in Quiet Places: Poems



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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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listen





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Be quiet. Ra is in the wind.
He speaks when the earth is silent and he alone existed until he named the names of things.
River, he said, and River lived.
Nile. Mountain. Beetle. Fisherman.
From his tongue springs words of water.
The river quakes with the sound of his voice.
Air escaping from his nose. Breathe deep.
The wind a sigh from his mother.
Such things are made everyday:
Duck, Mandrake, Raisin.
Grape, Pomegranate, Melon.
Cypress, Palm, Osiris.


–The Egyptian Book of the Dead



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Friday, May 26, 2017

questions






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Is anyone there
if so
are you real
either way are you
one or several
if the latter
are you all at once
or do you
take turns not answering
is your answer
the question itself
surviving the asking
without end
whose question is it
how does it begin
where does it come from
how did it ever
find out about you
over the sound
of itself
with nothing but its own
ignorance to go by


–W. S. Merwin
To The Soul



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In a Dark Time, excerpt





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In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood -
A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day's on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.
That place among the rocks - is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.


–Theodore Roethke



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co-inherence






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The chooser's happiness lies in his congruence with the chosen,
The peace of iron filings, obedient to the forces of the magnetic field.
Calm is the soul that is emptied of all self,
In the eternal moment of co-inherence.
A happiness within you - but not yours.


–Dag Hammarskjöld
from Markings


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this is what I believe





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This is what I believe: That I am I.

That my soul is a dark forest.

That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest.

That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back.

That I must have the courage to let them come and go.



—D. H. Lawrence



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Photo Beth Moon,
Ancient Trees: Portraits Of Time 

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the soul of the universe






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You are the soul of the soul of the universe,
and your name is Love.


—Rumi



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Thursday, May 25, 2017

prana





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Man has no Body distinct from the Soul!
for that Body is a portion of the Soul
discerned by the five Senses,
the chief inlets to the Soul in this age.

Energy is the only life and is from the Body;

and reason is the bound or outward
circumference of energy.
Energy is eternal delight.



–William Blake
18th century












Looking Across the Fields and Watching the Birds Fly






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Among the more irritating minor ideas
Of Mr. Homburg during his visits home
To Concord, at the edge of things, was this:

To think away the grass, the trees, the clouds,
Not to transform them into other things,
Is only what the sun does every day,

Until we say to ourselves that there may be
A pensive nature, a mechanical
And slightly detestable operandum, free

From man's ghost, larger and yet a little like,
Without his literature and without his gods . . .
No doubt we live beyond ourselves in air,

In an element that does not do for us,
so well, that which we do for ourselves, too big,
A thing not planned for imagery or belief,

Not one of the masculine myths we used to make,
A transparency through which the swallow weaves,
Without any form or any sense of form,

What we know in what we see, what we feel in what
We hear, what we are, beyond mystic disputation,
In the tumult of integrations out of the sky,

And what we think, a breathing like the wind,
A moving part of a motion, a discovery
Part of a discovery, a change part of a change,

A sharing of color and being part of it.
The afternoon is visibly a source,
Too wide, too irised, to be more than calm,

Too much like thinking to be less than thought,
Obscurest parent, obscurest patriarch,
A daily majesty of meditation,

That comes and goes in silences of its own.
We think, then as the sun shines or does not.
We think as wind skitters on a pond in a field

Or we put mantles on our words because
The same wind, rising and rising, makes a sound
Like the last muting of winter as it ends.

A new scholar replacing an older one reflects
A moment on this fantasia. He seeks
For a human that can be accounted for.

The spirit comes from the body of the world,
Or so Mr. Homburg thought: the body of a world
Whose blunt laws make an affectation of mind,

The mannerism of nature caught in a glass
And there become a spirit's mannerism,
A glass aswarm with things going as far as they can.


–Wallace Stevens




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if I am not conjoined






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If I am not conjoined through the uniting of the Below and the Above, I break down into three parts:
the serpent, and in that or some other animal form I roam, living nature daimonically, arousing fear and longing.
the human soul, living forever within you.
the celestial soul, as such dwelling with the Gods, far from you and unknown to you, appearing in the form of a bird.
 
–Carl Jung
liber novus/ the red book

(black book 6- 1916)




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Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour






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Light the first light of evening, as in a room
In which we rest and, for small reason, think

The world imagined is the ultimate good.

This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous.
It is in that thought that we collect ourselves,
Out of all the indifferences, into one thing:

Within a single thing, a single shawl
Wrapped tightly round us, since we are poor, a warmth,
A light, a power, the miraculous influence.

Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves.
We feel the obscurity of an order, a whole,
A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous.

Within its vital boundary, in the mind.
We say God and the imagination are one . . .
How high that highest candle lights the dark.

Out of this same light, out of the central mind,
We make a dwelling in the evening air,
In which being there together is enough.


–Wallace Stevens



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The Over-Soul, excerpts






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ESSAY IX The Over-Soul

... Man is a stream whose source is hidden. Our being is descending into us from we know not whence. The most exact calculator has no prescience that somewhat incalculable may not balk the very next moment. I am constrained every moment to acknowledge a higher origin for events than the will I call mine.

As with events, so is it with thoughts. When I watch that flowing river, which, out of regions I see not, pours for a season its streams into me, I see that I am a pensioner; not a cause, but a surprised spectator of this ethereal water; that I desire and look up, and put myself in the attitude of reception, but from some alien energy the visions come.

... within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal ONE. And this deep power in which we exist, and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one. We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are the shining parts, is the soul.

... All goes to show that the soul in man is not an organ, but animates and exercises all the organs; is not a function, like the power of memory, of calculation, of comparison, but uses these as hands and feet; is not a faculty, but a light; is not the intellect or the will, but the master of the intellect and the will; is the background of our being, in which they lie, — an immensity not possessed and that cannot be possessed. From within or from behind, a light shines through us upon things, and makes us aware that we are nothing, but the light is all.
A man is the facade of a temple wherein all wisdom and all good abide. What we commonly call man, the eating, drinking, planting, counting man, does not, as we know him, represent himself, but misrepresents himself. Him we do not respect, but the soul, whose organ he is, would he let it appear through his action, would make our knees bend. When it breathes through his intellect, it is genius; when it breathes through his will, it is virtue; when it flows through his affection, it is love.

... The soul circumscribes all things. As I have said, it contradicts all experience. In like manner it abolishes time and space. The influence of the senses has, in most men, overpowered the mind to that degree, that the walls of time and space have come to look real and insurmountable; and to speak with levity of these limits is, in the world, the sign of insanity. Yet time and space are but inverse measures of the force of the soul. The spirit sports with time, —

"Can crowd eternity into an hour,
Or stretch an hour to eternity."

... The action of the soul is oftener in that which is felt and left unsaid, than in that which is said in any conversation. It broods over every society, and they unconsciously seek for it in each other. We know better than we do. We do not yet possess ourselves, and we know at the same time that we are much more.

... In the book I read, the good thought returns to me, as every truth will, the image of the whole soul. To the bad thought which I find in it, the same soul becomes a discerning, separating sword, and lops it away. We are wiser than we know.

... the soul's communication of truth is the highest event in nature, since it then does not give somewhat from itself, but it gives itself, or passes into and becomes that man whom it enlightens; or, in proportion to that truth he receives, it takes him to itself.

... the heart in thee is the heart of all; not a valve, not a wall, not an intersection is there anywhere in nature, but one blood rolls uninterruptedly an endless circulation through all men, as the water of the globe is all one sea, and, truly seen, its tide is one.
... So come I to live in thoughts, and act with energies, which are immortal. Thus revering the soul, and learning, as the ancient said, that "its beauty is immense," man will come to see that the world is the perennial miracle which the soul worketh, and be less astonished at particular wonders; he will learn that there is no profane history; that all history is sacred; that the universe is represented in an atom, in a moment of time. He will weave no longer a spotted life of shreds and patches, but he will live with a divine unity. He will cease from what is base and frivolous in his life, and be content with all places and with any service he can render. He will calmly front the morrow in the negligency of that trust which carries God with it, and so hath already the whole future in the bottom of the heart.


–Ralph Waldo Emerson
1841













Tuesday, May 23, 2017

there





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Everything is natural. The light on your fingertips is starlight. Life begins with coiling — molecules and nebulae. Cruelty, selfishness, and vanity are boring. Each self is many selves. Reason is beauty. Light and darkness are arbitrary divisions.
Cleanliness is as undefinable and as natural as filth. The physiological body is pure spirit. Monotony is madness. The frontier is both outside and inside. The universe is the messiah. The senses are gods and goddesses. Where the body is — there are all things.

–Michael McClure



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many mansions






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What we call the body is not feet or shins,
The body, likewise, is not thighs or loins.
It’s not the belly nor indeed the back,
And from the chest and arms the body is not formed.
 

The body is not ribs or hands,
Armpits, shoulders, bowels, or entrails;
It is not the head or throat:
From none of these is “body” constituted.

If “body,” step by step,
Pervades and spreads itself throughout its members,
Its parts indeed are present in the parts,
But where does the “body,” in itself, abide!

If “body,” single and entire,
Is present in the hand and other members,
However many parts there are, the hand and all the rest,
You’ll find an equal quantity of “bodies.”

If “body” is not outside or within its parts,
How is it, then, residing in its members?
And since it has no basis other than its parts,
How can it be said to be at all?


Thus there is no “body” in the limbs,
But from illusion does the idea spring,
To be affixed to a specific shape—
Just as when a scarecrow is mistaken for a man.
As long as the conditions are assembled,
A body will appear and seem to be a man.
As long as all the parts are likewise present,
It’s there that we will see a body.

Likewise, since it is a group of fingers,
The hand itself is not a single entity.
And so it is with fingers, made of joints—
And joints themselves consist of many parts.

These parts themselves will break down into atoms,
And atoms will divide according to direction.
These fragments, too, will also fall to nothing.
Thus atoms are like empty space—
they have no real existence.

All form, therefore, is like a dream,
And who will be attached to it, who thus investigates!
The body, in this way, has no existence;
What is male, therefore, and what is female!


–Shantideva
The Way of the Bodhisattva





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