Thursday, August 31, 2017

merrily, merrily


 The universe is change; life is your perception of it.

–Marcus Aurelius


you have only to rest


You have only to rest in inaction and things will transform themselves. Smash your form and body, spit out hearing and eyesight, forget you are a thing among other things, and you may join in great unity with the deep and boundless.

Chuang Tzu
(4th Century B.C.)


on the road home


It was when I said,
“There is no such thing as the truth,”
That the grapes seemed fatter.
The fox ran out of his hole.
You….You said,
“There are many truths,
But they are not parts of a truth.”
Then the tree, at night, began to change,
Smoking through green and smoking blue.

We were two figures in a wood.
We said we stood alone.

It was when I said,
“Words are not forms of a single word.
In the sum of the parts, there are only the parts.
The world must be measured by eye.”

It was when you said,
“The idols have seen lots of poverty,
Snakes and gold and lice,
But not the truth;”

It was at that time, that the silence was largest,
And longest, the night was roundest.
The fragrance of the autumn warmest,
Closest, and strongest.

–Wallace Stevens


Wednesday, August 30, 2017


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




hiding in this cage
of visible matter
is the invisible
pay attention
to her
she is singing
your song

Sushil Rao translation


First Light Edging Cirrus


1025 molecules
are enough
to call woodthrush or apple.
A hummingbird, fewer.
A wristwatch: 1024.
An alphabet's molecules,
tasting of honey, iron and salt,
cannot be counted–
as some strings, untouched,
sound when a near one is speaking.
As it was when love slipped inside us.
It looked out to face in every direction.
Then it was inside the tree, the rock, the cloud.

–Jane Hirshfield




Behind matter there is some kind of heat, around and behind things,
so that what we experience is not the turtle nor the night only,
not the rising whirlwind, not the certainty,
nor the steady gaze.

–Robert Bly  


the stars are words


Thinking of the stars night after night I begin to realize
The stars are words
and all the innumerable worlds in the Milky Way are words,
and so is this world too. 
And I realize that no matter where I am,
whether in a little room full of thought,

or in this endless universe of stars and mountains,
it’s all in my mind.

–Jack Kerouac
Lonesome Traveler


true lovers


true lovers in each happening of their hearts
live longer than all which and every who;
despite what fear denies,what hope asserts,
what falsest both disprove by proving true

(all doubts,all certainties,as villains strive
and heroes through the mere mind’s poor pretend
—grim comics of duration:only love
immortally occurs beyond the mind)

such a forever is love’s any now
and her each here is such an everywhere,
even more true would truest lovers grow
if out of midnight dropped more suns than are

(yes;and if time should ask into his was
all shall,their eyes would never miss a yes)

–E. E. Cummings


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

a message from space



Everything that happens is the message:
you read an event and be one and wait,
like breasting a wave, all the while knowing
by living, though not knowing how to live.

Or workers built an antenna -- a dish
aimed at stars -- and they themselves are its message,
crawling in and out, being worlds that loom,
dot-dash, and sirens, and sustaining beams.

And sometimes no one is calling but we turn up
eye and ear -- suddenly we fall into
sound before it begins, the breathing
so still it waits there under the breath --

And then the green of leaves calls out, hills
where they wait or turn, clouds in their frenzied
stillness unfolding their careful words:
"Everything counts. The message is the world."

–William Stafford
from The Worth of Local Things


The stars are like letters which inscribe themselves at every moment in the sky.

Everything in the world is full of signs. 
All events are coordinated.

All things depend on each other; as has been said:

Everything breathes together.

ca CE 204/5–270


A Messenger from the Horizon, excerpt


Pardon all runners,
All speechless, alien winds,
All mad waters.

Pardon their impulses,
Their wild attitudes,
Their young flights, their reticence.

When a message has no clothes on
How can it be spoken.

–Thomas Merton


love letters


Every day, priests minutely examine the Law

And endlessly chant complicated sutras.

Before doing that, though, they should learn

How to read the love letters sent by the wind

and rain, the snow and moon.

Sonya Arutzen translation


reply to a letter


In the bottom drawer I find a letter which arrived for the first time twenty- six years ago. A letter written in panic, which continues to breathe when it arrives for the second time.

A house has five windows; through four of them daylight shines clear and still. The fifth window faces a dark sky, thunder and storm. I stand by the fifth window. The letter.

Sometimes a wide abyss separates Tuesday from Wednesday, but twenty-six years may pass in a moment. Time is no straight line. but rather a labyrinth. and if you press yourself against the wall, at the right spot, you can hear the hurrying steps and the voices, you can hear yourself walking past on the other side.

Was that letter ever answered? l don't remember, it was a long time ago. The innumerable thresholds of the sea continued to wander. The heart continued to leap from second to second, like the toad in the wet grass of a night in August.

The unanswered letters gather up above, like cirrostratus clouds foreboding a storm. They dim the rays of the sun. One day l shall reply. One day when I am dead and at last free to collect my thoughts. Or at least so far away from here that l can rediscover myself. When recently arrived I walk in the great city. On 25th Street, on the windy streets of dancing garbage. I who love to stroll and merge with the crowd, a capital letter T in the infinite body of text.

–Tomas Tranströmer
Göran Malmqvist translation


Friday, August 25, 2017

what the things can teach us


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 must do that before he can fly.

–Rainer Maria Rilke
Anita Barrows/Joanna Macy translation


not to worry


Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.

It will not lead you astray.





By whatever path you go, you will have to lose yourself in the One. 

Surrender is complete only when you reach the stage ‘Thou art all’ and ‘Thy will be done’.

–Ramana Maharshi


Learn who it is within you who makes everything his own
and says, “My God, my mind, my thought, my soul, my body.” 

Learn the sources of sorrow, joy, love, hate. 

Learn how it happens that one watches without willing,
rests without willing, becomes angry without willing,
loves without willing.

–Hippolytus of Rome


when i met my muse


I glanced at her and took my glasses
off -- they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. "I am your own
way of looking at things." she said. "When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation." And I took her hand.

–William Stafford




Be crumbled, so wild flowers will come up where you are.

You have been stony for too many years.
Try something different -



Thursday, August 24, 2017



‘What is grace?’ I asked God.

And He said,
‘All that happens.’

Then He added, when I looked perplexed,

‘Could not lovers
say that every moment in their Beloved’s arms
was grace?

Existence is my arms,
though I well understand how one can turn
away from

until the heart has

–St. John of the Cross
Love Poems from God
Daniel Ladinsky




The time of judging
Who is drunk or sober,
Who is right and who is wrong,
Who is closer to god, and who is farther away,
All that is over.

This caravan is led instead by a great delight,
The simple joy that sits with us now.

That is the grace.



note to self


You are neck-deep in water and yet cry for water.

It is as good as saying that one neck-deep in water feels thirsty, or that a fish in water feels thirsty, or that water feels thirsty.

Grace is always there.

–Ramana Maharshi


Grace is within you. If it were external it would be useless. –Raman Maharshi



Grace is always present. 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




The Grace–Myself–might not obtain–

Confer upon My flower–

Refracted but a Countenance–

For I–inhabit Her–

–Emily Dickinson


It is by God’s Grace that you think of God. –Sri Ramana Maharshi


You said, ‘Who’s at the door?’
I said, ‘Your slave.’

You said, ‘What do you want?’
‘To see you and bow.’

‘How long will you wait?’
‘Until you call.’

‘How long will you cook?’
‘Till the Resurrection.’
We talked through the door.
I claimed a great love and that I had
given up what the world gives, to be in that love.

‘You said, ‘Such claims require a witness.’
I said, ‘This longing, these tears.’

You said, ‘Discredited witnesses.’
I said, ‘Surely not!’

You said, ‘Who did you come with?’
‘The majestic imagination you gave me.’

‘Why did you come?’
‘The musk of your wine was in the air.’

‘What is your intention?’

‘What do you want from me?’

Then you asked, ‘Where have you been most comfortable?’
‘In the palace.’

‘What did you see there?’
‘Amazing things.’

‘Then why is it so desolate?’
‘Because all that can be taken away in a second.’

‘Who can do that?’
‘This clear discernment.’

‘Where can you live safely then?’
‘In Surrender.’

‘What is this giving up?’
‘A peace that saves us.’

‘Is there no threat of disaster?’
‘Only what comes in your street, inside your love.’

‘How do you walk there?’
‘In perfection.’

Now silence.
If I told more of this conversation,
those listening would leave themselves.

There would be no door, no roof or window either!

talking through the door


Wednesday, August 23, 2017



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




is it true
that your mind is sometimes like
a battering ram
running all through the city,
shouting so madly inside and out
about the ten thousand things
that do not matter?



boil me


A chickpea leaps almost over the rim of the pot

where it’s being boiled.

‘Why are you doing this to me?’

The cook knocks him down with the ladle.

‘Don’t you try to jump out.

You think I’m torturing you.

I’m giving you flavour,

so you can mix with spices and rice

and be the lovely vitality of a human being.

Remember when you drank rain in the garden.

That was for this.’

Grace first. Sexual pleasure,

then a boiling new life begins,

and the Friend has something good to eat.

Eventually the chickpea

will say to the cook,

‘Boil me some more.

Hit me with the skimming spoon.

I can’t do this by myself.

I’m like an elephant that dreams of gardens

back in Hindustan and doesn’t pay attention

to his driver. You’re my cook, my driver,

my way to existence. I love your cooking.’

The cook says,

‘I was once like you,

fresh from the ground. Then I boiled in time,

and boiled in the body, two fierce boilings.

My animal soul grew powerful.

I controlled it with practices,

and boiled some more, and boiled

once beyond that,

and became your teacher.’

The Essential Rumi,
Coleman Barks and John Moyne version