Tuesday, February 20, 2024

often i imagine the earth



Often I imagine the earth
through the eyes of the atoms we’re made of—
atoms, peculiar
atoms everywhere—
no me, no you, no opinions,
no beginning, no middle, no end,
soaring together like those
ancient Chinese birds
hatched miraculously with only one wing,
helping each other fly home.

—Dan Gerber


I heard a man say a poem once, he said, ‘All that lives is holy.’ —Steinbeck



[...] in daily speech, where we don’t stop to consider every word, we all use phrases like “the ordinary world,” “ordinary life,” “the ordinary course of events” 
[...] But in the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it.

—Wisława Szymborska


I would give all metaphors

in return for one word

drawn out of my breast like a rib

for one word

contained within the boundaries

of my skin

—Zbigniew Herbert
Czesław Miłosz version 


every song the heart should cry



I have come into this world to hear this: every song the earth has sung since it was conceived in the Divine womb and began spinning, every song by wing and fin and hoof, every song by hill and field and tree and woman and child, every song of stream and rock, every song of tool and lyre and flute, every song of gold and emerald and fire, every song the heart should cry with magnificent dignity to know itself as God: for all other knowledge will leave us again in want and aching -  only imbibing the glorious Sun will complete us. 

I have come into this world to experience this: men so true to love they would rather die before speaking an unkind word, men so true their lives are a covenant - the promise of hope.

I have come into this world to see this: the sword drop from men's hands even at the height of their arc of rage because we have finally realized there is just one flesh we can wound.



Monday, February 19, 2024

words for love



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


a glossary of chickens



There should be a word for the way
they look with just one eye, neck bent,
for beetle or worm or strewn grain.
“Gleaning,” maybe, between “gizzard”
and “grit.” 

And for the way they run toward
someone they trust, their skirts
hiked, their plump bodies wobbling:
“bobbling,” let’s call it, inserted
after “blowout” and before “bloom.”

There should be terms, too, for things
they do not do—like urinate or chew—
but perhaps there already are.

I’d want a word for the way they drink,
head thrown back, throat wriggling,
like an old woman swallowing
a pill; a word beginning with “S,”
coming after “sex feather” and before “shank.”

And one for the sweetness of hens
but not roosters.

We think that by naming we can understand,
as if the tongue were more than muscle.

—Gary Whitehead






four words



Every child has known god,

not the god of names,

not the god of don’t,

not the god who does anything

but the god who only knows four words

and keeps repeating them, saying:

“Come dance with Me."




Sunday, February 18, 2024



I, I will be king 
And you, you will be queen 
Though nothing will drive them away 
We can beat them, just for one day 
We can be heroes, just for one day

And you, you can be mean 
And I, I'll drink all the time 
'Cause we're lovers, and that is a fact 
Yes, we're lovers, and that is that

Though nothing, will keep us together 
We could steal time, just for one day 
We can be heroes, for ever and ever 
What d'you say?

I, I wish you could swim 
Like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim 
Though nothing, nothing will keep us together 
We can beat them, for ever and ever 
Oh we can be heroes, just for one day

I, I will be king 
And you, you will be queen 
Though nothing will drive them away 
We can be heroes, just for one day 
We can be us, just for one day

I, I can remember (I remember) 
Standing, by the wall (by the wall) 
And the guns shot above our heads (over our heads) 
And we kissed, as though nothing could fall (nothing could fall) 
And the shame was on the other side 
Oh we can beat them, for ever and ever 
Then we could be heroes, just for one day

We can be heroes

We can be heroes

We can be heroes 
Just for one day 
We can be heroes

We're nothing, and nothing will help us 
Maybe we're lying, then you better not stay 
But we could be safer, just for one day

—David Bowie






Being attentive unlocks a sphere of reality that no one suspects. 
If, for instance, I walked along a path without being attentive, completely immersed in myself, I did not even know whether trees grew along the way, nor how tall they were, or whether they had leaves. When I awakened my attention, however, every tree immediately came to me. This must be taken quite literally. Every single tree projected its form, its weight, its movement—even if it was almost motionless—in my direction. I could indicate its trunk, and the place where its first branches started, even when several feet away. By and by something else became clear to me, and this can never be found in books. The world exerts pressure on us from the distance.

The seeing commit a strange error. They believe that we know the world only through our eyes. For my part, I discovered that the universe consists of pressure, that every object and every living being reveals itself to us at first by a kind of quiet yet unmistakable pressure that indicates its intention and its form. I even experienced the following wonderful fact: A voice, the voice of a person, permits him to appear in a picture. When the voice of a man reaches me, I immediately perceive his figure, his rhythm, and most of his intentions. Even stones are capable of weighing on us from a distance. So are the outlines of distant mountains, and the sudden depression of a lake at the bottom of a valley.

This correspondence is so exact that when I walked arm in arm with a friend along the paths of the Alps, I knew the landscape and could sometimes describe it with surprising clarity. Sometimes; yes, only sometimes. I could do it when I summoned all my attention. Permit me to say without reservation that if all people were attentive, if they would undertake to be attentive every moment of their lives, they would discover the world anew. They would suddenly see that the world is entirely different from what they had believed it to be.


—Jacques Lusseyran, 
Blind hero of the French Resistance
Against the Pollution of the I



Neither freedom from sorrow nor realization of one’s real nature is possible as long as the conviction does not arise in one that the world-appearance is unreal.

—Yoga Vasistha


Q: Will there not be realization of the Self even while the world is real? 

M: There will not be. 

Q: Why?

M: The seer and the object seen are like the rope and the snake. Just as the knowledge of the rope which is the substrate will not arise unless the false knowledge of the illusory serpent goes, so the realization of the Self which is the substrate will not be gained unless the belief that the world is real is removed.

—Sri Ramana Maharshi


Without the projection of the mind, the world cannot exist. That world that appears to you in your dreams at night is unreal, and so is the world that appears to you when you are awake. 
There is no difference whatsoever.

Jac O'Keeffe


The only way of knowing reality is to be it. 
The mind cannot reach it. 
To perceive it does not need the senses;
to know it, does not need the mind.

Nisargadatta Maharaj


1 x 1



life is more true than reason will deceive
(more secret or than madness did reveal)
deeper is life than lose:higher than have
—but beauty is more each than living’s all

multiplied with infinity sans if
the mightiest meditations of mankind
cancelled are by one merely opening leaf
(beyond whose nearness there is no beyond)

or does some littler bird than eyes can learn
look up to silence and completely sing?
futures are obsolete;pasts are unborn
(here less than nothing’s more than everything)

death,as men call him,ends what they call men
—but beauty is more now than dying’s when

—E. E. Cummings
from 1 x 1 [One Times One] (1944)


Saturday, February 17, 2024

The body is our general medium for having a world. —Maurice Merleau-Ponty


How does a single-celled embryo grow up to be a
differentiated biological body of organs?



An embryo expands by cell division, making an exact replica of itself with all the same DNA, the same genes. But in the adult body, the cells are differentiated as to their functions. 

... The proteins a cell makes determine cellular function; the genes have the code to make the proteins. ... But the source of the programs is not part of the DNA. 

... Rupert Sheldrake (1981) has shown how nonlocal and nonphysical morphogenic fields are essential to understand biological form-making from the one-celled embryo.
The instructions of form-making cell-differentiation (all cells contain the same genes, yet toe cell genes are activated very differently from brain cell genes), are nowhere to be found in the physical body, and that includes the genes (which are more or less instructions for protein-making).

—Amit Goswami
Quantum Doctor



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!

The Way of the Bodhisattva



The moment you know your real being, you are afraid of nothing. 
Every vestige of your imaginative self must first die, then the universe is your own, it becomes your body and your expression. Nothing can truly affect you, you are free beyond description. 

—Nisargadatta Maharaj


mute but piercing





In the antigarden represented by the desert, the question accompanying the poet like her shadow under the sun is: Who am I to be so alone? Who am I if I am not with another? The demand for another is always mute but piercing. All these texts ask for another and all the poets ask for another language, even for a foreign language perhaps, because the essence of poetry is to find strangeness in language.

—Hélène Cixous

Readings: The Poetics of Blanchot, Joyce, Kafka, Kleist, Lispector, and Tsvetayeva


If one day you become sick of words, as happens to us all, and you grow tired of hearing them, of saying them; if whichever you choose seems worn out, dull, disabled; if you feel nauseated when you hear 'horrible' or 'divine' for some everyday occurrence - you'll not be cured, obviously, by alphabet soup.

You must do the following: cook a plate of al dente spaghetti dressed with the simplest seasoning - garlic, oil and chili. Over the pasta toss in this mixture, grate a layer of Parmesan cheese. To the right of the deep plate full of the spaghetti thus prepared, place an open book. To the left, place an open book. In front of it a full glass of red wine. Any other company is not recommended. Turn the pages of each book at random, but they must both be poetry. Only good poets cure us of an overindulgence in words. Only simple essential food cures us of gluttony.

—Héctor Abad Faciolince
good poets cure
Recipes for Sad Women


what ancient civilizations teach us about reality



A forest is what exists between its trees, between its dense undergrowth and its clearings, between all its life cycles and their different timescales
[...] 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.

—John Berger
Into the Woods



After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with color, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Isn’t it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? 

This is how I answer when I am asked – as I am surprisingly often – why I bother to get up in the mornings. To put it the other way round, isn’t it sad to go to your grave without ever wondering why you were born? Who, with such a thought, would not spring from bed, eager to resume discovering the world and rejoicing to be a part of it?

—Richard Dawkins


I've no idea what my child is thinking.

Between two unknowns, I live my life.
Between my mother's hopes, older than I am
by coming before me, and my child's wishes, older than I am
by outliving me. And what's it like?
Is it a door, and good-bye on either side?
A window, and eternity on either side?
Yes, and a little singing between two great rests.

—Li-Young Lee
The Hammock, excerpt
Book of My Nights


Friday, February 16, 2024





People say, “I’m going to sleep now,” as if it were nothing. But it’s really a bizarre activity. “For the next several hours, while the sun is gone, I’m going to become unconscious, temporarily losing command over everything I know and understand. When the sun returns, I will resume my life.” 
If you didn’t know what sleep was, and you had only seen it in a science fiction movie, you would think it was weird and tell all your friends about the movie you’d seen. “They had these people, you know? And they would walk around all day and be okay? And then, once a day, usually after dark, they would lie down on these special platforms and become unconscious. They would stop functioning almost completely, except deep in their minds they would have adventures and experiences that were completely impossible in real life. As they lay there, completely vulnerable to their enemies, their only movements were to occasionally shift from one position to another; or, if one of the ‘mind adventures’ got too real, they would sit up and scream and be glad they weren’t unconscious anymore. Then they would drink a lot of coffee.” 
So, next time you see someone sleeping, make believe you’re in a science fiction movie. And whisper, ‘The creature is regenerating itself'.

—George Carlin



The universe is a machine for the making of gods. —Bergson



[Philosopher] Whitehead’s panpsychism posits that all actualities – “actual entities” – transition from potentiality to actuality by perceiving the universe around them, choosing what perceptions to internalize, and then becoming objective/actual based on those perceptions. This is an iterative process, moment to moment to moment … 

This process takes place in literally every part of the universe in perpetuity, from subatomic particles to humans to perhaps even more complex structures beyond our current understanding. 

It is a perpetual oscillation between potentiality and actuality that produces the universe in each moment.

—Tam Hunt and Christof Koch
Eco, Ego, Eros


Whatever happens. Whatever
what is is is what
I want. Only that. But that.  

—Galway Kinnell


What we perceive as space is the end result of visual information processing. It is an approximation of space that is no different than the space you would see if you would wear a Virtual Reality headset. Slap on a VR and look at how it simulates space. 
The space you see in a VR is no different than the space you see in objective reality. Both are rendered approximations of space simulated by virtualization in the brain. All of that space doesn’t exist inside the brain so why does it overlay and seem to encompass such great distances if it’s all in your head?
This is part of the interface and how the mind has evolved the ability to process information. The mind produces a virtualization of space and projects an overlay to approximate the space as perceived by sensory constraints. We never see true space as we have only ever observed the approximation of space through virtualization. And this is true for everything that you perceive. It is all an approximation and interpretation of information gathered by limited senses. 

—Ian Wilson
Immersion Into the Human Experience


This place is a dream. Only a sleeper considers it real. 

Then death comes like dawn, and you wake up laughing at 
what you thought was your grief.



not till then



...  a man can know nothing by himself, save after a natural manner, which is only that which he attains by means of the senses. For this cause he must have the phantasms and the forms of objects present in themselves and in their likenesses; otherwise it cannot be, for, as philosophers say: Ab objecto et potentia paritur notitia. That is: From the object that is present and from the faculty, knowledge is born in the soul. Wherefore, if one should speak to a man of things which he has never been able to understand, and whose likeness he has never seen, he would have no more illumination from them whatever than if naught had been said of them to him.

—John of the Cross
(1542 - 1591)


For the sake of a single verse, one must see many cities, men, and things.  
One must know the animals, one must feel how the birds fly and know the gesture with which the little flowers open in the morning. One must be able to think back to roads in unknown regions, to unexpected meetings and to partings one had long seen coming; to days of childhood that are still unexplained, to parents whom one had to hurt when they brought one some joy and did not grasp it (it was a joy for someone else); to childhood illnesses that so strangely begin with such a number of profound and grave transformations, to days in rooms withdrawn and quiet and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, to nights of travel that rushed along on high and flew with all the stars—and it is not yet enough if one may think of all this. One must have memories of many nights of love, none of which was like the others, of the screams of women in labor, and of light, white, sleeping women in childbed, closing again. But one must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open window and the fitful noises. And still it is not enough to have memories. 
One must be able to forget them when they are many, and one must have the great patience to wait until they come again. For it is not yet the memories themselves. Not till they have turned to blood within us, to glance, and gesture, nameless, and no longer to be distinguished from ourselves—not till then can it happen that in a most rare hour the first word of a verse arises in their midst and goes forth from them.

―Rainer Maria Rilke
The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (1910)


Thursday, February 15, 2024

out of nowhere, the mind comes forth —The Diamond Sutra



If dreaming really were a kind of truce
(as people claim), a sheer repose of mind,
why then if you should waken up abruptly,
do you feel that something has been stolen from you?
Why should it be so sad, the early morning?
It robs us of an inconceivable gift,
so intimate it is only knowable
in a trance which the nightwatch gilds with dreams,
dreams that might very well be reflections,
fragments from the treasure-house of darkness,
from the timeless sphere that does not have a name,
and that the day distorts in its mirrors.
Who will you be tonight in your dreamfall
into the dark, on the other side of the wall?

—Jorge Luis Borges
Alastair Reid version


When we experience a film, we consciously prime ourselves for illusion. Putting aside will and intellect, we make way for it in our imagination. The sequence of pictures plays directly on our feelings. 
Music works in the same fashion; I would say that there is no art form that has so much in common with film as music. Both affect our emotions directly, not via the intellect. And film is mainly rhythm; it is inhalation and exhalation in continuous sequence.

―Ingmar Bergman 



Usually people work hard to make things happen. Yet it might be that things happen by themselves, coming out of nowhere.

When you forget your carefully assembled fiction of who you are, you can find a natural delight in people, in the planet, the stones, and the trees. There is no observable limit to this beauty, and no one is excluded from it. Then, if you are fighting an enemy, you may be fighting them as well as you can, but you won’t be a true believer. You will know that an enemy is not truly other and that the fighting is some kind of misunderstanding. The worries that lead to quarrels may still be present, but they are not the main thing. 
Your problems could be a kind of dream, very powerful when you are in it, and yet a dream. You might notice that, even deep in dreaming, you are near to waking up. And the more you are awake, the kinder the world might seem.

John Tarrant
Working With the Koan
from Bring Me The Rhinoceros
and other Zen Koans that will save your life


more truly and more strange



I was in the world in which I walked, and what I saw
Or heard or felt came not but from myself
And there I found myself more truly and more strange.

—Wallace Stevens
Tea in the Palaz of Hoon


We are individualized waves of consciousness on the Infinite Ocean of Spirit; so say the sages. 

But, although the Ocean has become the wave, and the wave, when it dissolves the illusion of ego-separation and limitation, realizes that it has always been one with the Infinite Ocean, the form-bound wave itself is not the Ocean. Nor is the Ocean merely the sum of its waves—the Ocean can exist without the waves, but the waves cannot exist without the Ocean. 

Everything you can see, hear, smell, touch, taste, and much more, is part of this Ocean. For all matter, energy and consciousness is merely waves of certain rates of vibration on the surface of the Ocean of Consciousness; Spirit has become, and is present in and as, every created thing. That is, consciousness is the “water” of the Infinite Ocean of Spirit, and all phenomena arise as modifications of this one stuff, or ripples on/of this Ocean of cosmic consciousness.

—Geoffrey D. Falk
The Science of the Soul:
On Consciousness and the Structure of Reality