Tuesday, February 19, 2019

tweets





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The language of birds is very ancient, and like other ancient modes of speech, very elliptical; little is said, but much is meant and understood.

–Gilbert White
from Letter XLIII, Selborne, 9 September 1778
The Natural History of Selborne (1789)


...


(all) creatures have territories ...
for some birds, their song is a fence.

–Wendell Berry




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we are occasional like that





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We are not one with this world. We are not
the complexity our body is, nor the summer air
idling in the big maple without purpose.
We are a shape the wind makes in these leaves
as it passes through. We are not the wood
any more than the fire, but the heat which is a marriage
between the two. We are certainly not the lake
nor the fish in it, but the something that is
pleased by them. We are the stillness when
a mighty Mediterranean noon subtracts even the voices of
insects by the broken farmhouse. We are evident
when the orchestra plays, and yet are not part
of the strings or brass. Like the song that exists
only in the singing, and is not the singer.
God does not live among the church bells
but is briefly resident there. We are occasional
like that. A lifetime of easy happiness mixed
with pain and loss, trying always to name and hold
on to the enterprise under way in our chest.
Reality is not what we marry as a feeling. It is what
walks up the dirt path, through the excessive heat
and giant sky, the sea stretching away.
He continues past the nunnery to the old villa
where he will sit on the terrace with her, their sides
touching. In the quiet that is the music of that place,
which is the difference between silence and windlessness.


–Jack Gilbert
Music Is In The Piano Only When It Is Played



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The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart, excerpt




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How astonishing it is that language can almost mean, and frightening that it does not quite.  What we feel most has no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses and birds.

–Jack Gilbert


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Monday, February 18, 2019

i am so afraid of people's words






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I am so afraid of people's words.
They describe so distinctly everything:
And this they call dog and that they call house,
here the start and there the end.
I worry about their mockery with words,
they know everything, what will be, what was;
no mountain is still miraculous;
and their house and yard lead right up to God.

I want to warn and object: Let the things be!
I enjoy listening to the sound they are making.
But you always touch: and they hush and stand still.
This is how you kill.


–Rainer Maria Rilke
Annemarie S. Kidder translation


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whoever you are





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You have long been bound thinking:
‘I am a person’.
Let the knowledge: ‘I am Awareness alone’
be the sword that frees you.



–Ashtavakra Gita


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Whoever you are: in the evening step out
of your room, where you know everything;
yours is the last house before the far-off:
whoever you are.

With your eyes, which in their weariness
barely free themselves from the worn-out threshold,
you lift very slowly one black tree
and place it against the sky: slender, alone.

And you have made the world. And it is huge
and like a word which grows ripe in silence.
And as your will seizes on its meaning,
tenderly your eyes let it go…


–Rainer Maria Rilke
The Book of Images



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questions






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In the very earliest time, when both people and animals lived on earth, a person could become an animal if he wanted to and an animal could become a human being.

Sometimes they were people and sometimes animals and there was no difference. All spoke the same language.

That was the time when words were like magic. The human mind had mysterious powers. A word spoken by chance might have strange consequences.
It would suddenly come alive and what people wanted to happen could happen—all you had to do was say it.

Nobody can explain this:
That's the way it was.


–Nalungiaq
Nalungiaq
was an Inuit woman interviewed by ethnologist Knud Rasmussen
in the early twentieth century.


...


Sometimes, when a bird cries out,
Or the wind sweeps through a tree,
Or a dog howls in a far off farm,
I hold still and listen for a long time.

My soul turns and goes back to the place
Where, a thousand forgotten years ago,
The bird and the blowing wind
Were like me, and were my brothers.

My soul turns into a tree,
and an animal, and a cloud bank.
Then changed and odd it comes home
And asks me questions. What should I reply?



–Hermann Hesse


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Alex Saberi
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Sunday, February 17, 2019

pebble





 
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The pebble
is a perfect creature
equal to itself
mindful of its limits  
filled exactly
with a pebbly meaning
 
with a scent that does not remind one of anything
does not frighten anything away does not arouse desire
 
its ardour and coldness
are just and full of dignity
 
I feel a heavy remorse
when I hold it in my hand
and its noble body
is permeated by false warmth
 
- Pebbles cannot be tamed -
to the end they will look at us
with a calm and very clear eye



–Zbigniew Herbert
Peter Dale Scott/
Czesław Miłosz translation


...


Everything in the world has a hidden meaning.
Men, animals, trees, stars, they are all hieroglyphics.

When you see them you do not understand them.
You think they are really men, animals, trees, stars.

It is only years later that you understand.


–Nikos Kazantzakis


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inner architecture





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A person's life consists of a collection of events, the last of which could also change the meaning of the whole, not because it counts more than the previous ones but because once they are included in a life, events are arranged in an order that is not chronological but, rather, corresponds to an inner architecture.

–Italo Calvino


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You must be ready to accept the possibility that there is a limitless range of awareness for which we now have no words; that awareness can expand beyond range of your ego, your self, your familiar identity, beyond everything you have learned, beyond your notions of space and time, beyond the differences which usually separate people from each other and from the world around them.

–Walter Evans-Wentz
The Tibetan Book of The Dead


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question






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You ask me how to pray to someone who is not.
All I know is that prayer constructs a velvet bridge
And walking it we are aloft, as on a springboard,
Above landscapes the color of ripe gold
Transformed by a magic stopping of the sun.

That bridge leads to the shore of Reversal
Where everything is just the opposite and the word 'is'
Unveils a meaning we hardly envisioned.

Notice: I say we; there, every one, separately,
Feels compassion for others entangled in the flesh
And knows that if there is no other shore
We will walk that aerial bridge all the same.


–Czesław Miłosz
Robert Hass translation

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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Tee-a-Wee








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link to this treasure from
brainpickings

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veins of the spirit






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Plants are all chemists, tirelessly assembling the molecules of the world, and in their transactions with insects, birds, animals, and fungi, they find elaborate ways to defend themselves, to seduce pollinators, to confuse.


—Gary Snyder


...


Every tree, every plant, has a spirit. People may say that the plant has no mind. I tell them that the plant is alive and conscious. A plant may not talk, but there is a spirit in it that is conscious, that sees everything, which is the soul of the plant, its essence, what makes it alive. The channels through which the water and sap move are the veins of the spirit.


—Pablo Amaringo


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running on air and water






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Every year a given tree creates absolutely from scratch ninety-nine percent of its living parts. 

Water lifting up tree trunks can climb one hundred and fifty feet an hour; in full summer a tree can, and does, heave a ton of water every day. 

A big elm in a single season might make as many as six million leaves, wholly intricate, without budging an inch; I couldn't make one. 

A tree stands there, accumulating deadwood,  mute and rigid as an obelisk, but secretly it seethes, it splits, sucks and stretches; it heaves up tons and hurls them out in a green, fringed fling. 

No person taps this free power; the dynamo in the tulip tree pumps out even more tulip tree, and it runs on rain and air.


Annie Dillard
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek


...


The day is real; the sky clicks securely into place over the mountains, locks round the islands, slaps slap on the bay. Air fits flush on farm roofs; it rises inside the doors of barns and rubs at yellow barn windows. Air clicks up my hand cloven into fingers and wells in my ears' holes, whole and entire. I call it simplicity, the way matter is smooth and alone.

–Annie Dillard
Holy the Firm








Friday, February 15, 2019

Becoming: From zygote to tadpole, in six stunning minutes





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There is a force within
Which gives you life –
seek That.

In your body
Lies a priceless gem –
seek That.

O wandering Sufi,
if you want to find
the greatest treasure
Don’t look outside,
Look inside, and seek That.


–Rumi
Star/Shiva version



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Jan van Ijken
buffleheadcabin

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odd discoveries


 



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Martin Buber quotes an old Hasid master who said, "When you walk across the field with your mind pure and holy, then from all the stones, and all growing things, and all animals, the sparks of their souls come out and cling to you, and then they are purified and become a holy fire in you."

–Annie Dillard
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

...


We leave traces of ourselves wherever we go, on whatever we touch.

One of the odd discoveries made by small boys is that when two pebbles are struck sharply against each other they emit, briefly, a curious smoky odor.

The phenomenon fades when the stones are immaculately cleaned, vanishes when they are heated to furnace temperature, and reappears when they are simply touched by the hand again, before being struck.


–Lewis Thomas
The Lives of a Cell


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this is the body






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Every day the body works in the fields of the world
Mending a stone wall
Or swinging a sickle through the tall grass -
The grass of civics, the grass of money -
And every night the body curls around itself
And listens for the soft bells of sleep.
 
But the heart is restless and rises
From the body in the middle of the night,
Leaves the trapezoidal bedroom
With its thick, pictureless walls
To sit by herself at the kitchen table
And heat some milk in a pan.
 
And the mind gets up too, puts on a robe
And goes downstairs, lights a cigarette,
And opens a book on engineering.
Even the conscience awakens
And roams from room to room in the dark,
Darting away from every mirror like a strange fish.
 
And the soul is up on the roof
In her nightdress, straddling the ridge,
Singing a song about the wildness of the sea
Until the first rip of pink appears in the sky.
Then, they all will return to the sleeping body
The way a flock of birds settles back into a tree,
 
Resuming their daily colloquy,
Talking to each other or themselves
Even through the heat of the long afternoons.
Which is why the body - the house of voices -
Sometimes puts down its metal tongs, its needle, or its pen
To stare into the distance,
 
To listen to all its names being called
Before bending again to its labor.


–Billy Collins
The Night House


...



My friend, this body is made of bone and excited protozoa and it is with my body that I love the fields. How do I know what I feel but what the body tells me? Erasmus thinking in the snow, translators of Virgil who burn up the whole room, the man in furs reading the Arabic astrologer falls off his three-legged stool in astonishment, this is the body, so beautifully carved inside, with the curves of the inner ear, and the husk so rough, knuckle-brown.

As we walk, we enter the fields of other bodies, and every smell we take in the communities of protozoa see, and a being inside leaps up toward it, as a horse rears at the starting gate. When we come near each other, we are drawn down into the sweetest pools of slowly circling smells . . . slowly circling energies . . . The protozoa know there are odors the shape of oranges, of tornadoes, of octopses . . .

The sunlight lays itself down before every protozoa, 
the night opens itself out behind it, 
and inside its own energy it lives!

So the space between two people diminishes, it grows less and less, no one to weep, they merge at last. The sound that pours from the fingertips awakens clouds of cells far inside the body, and beings unknown to us start out in a pilgrimage to their Saviour, to their holy place. Their holy place is a small black stone, that they remember from Protozoic times, when it was rolled away from a door . . . and it was after that they found their friends, who helped them to digest the hard grains of this world . . . The cloud of cells awakens, intensifies, swarms . . . the beings dance inside beams of sunlight so thin we cannot see them . . . to them each ray is a vast palace, with thousands of rooms. From the dance of the cells praise sentences rise to the voice of the man praying and singing alone in his room. He lets his arms climb above his head, and says, “Now do you still say that you cannot choose the road?”


–Robert Bly
for Lewis Thomas, and his The Lives of the Cell




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Thursday, February 14, 2019

if we lose our way






 




[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]


 



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i carry your heart with me(i carry it in 
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere 
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done 
by only me is your doing,my darling) 
                                                      i fear 
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want 
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true) 
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant 
and whatever a sun will always sing is you 

here is the deepest secret nobody knows 
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud 
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows 
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) 
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart 

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

–E. E. Cummings
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in



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red thread





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This must be well grasped: the world hangs on the thread of consciousness. No consciousness, no world.

–Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj


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On foot
I had to walk through the solar system
before I found the first thread of my red dress.
Already, I sense myself.
Somewhere in space hangs my heart,
sparks fly from it, shaking the air, 
to other reckless hearts.


–Edith Södergran (1892-1923)
Stina Katchadourian translation



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Paris by night, 
from the International Space Station

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