Commonplace Book XIII

The soul speaks its truth only under quiet, inviting, and trustworthy conditions.
– Parker J. Palmer

There is Something About a Forest
That Compels Introspection
– Eloise J. Roorbach

Photography is like fishing. Why can’t we all just catch and release? Somehow that seems like a more ethical form of photography. Like, we could go out with binoculars instead of a camera and just look at the world. Why do we have to pin it down.
– Alec Soth

The less there was of me,
the happier I got.
– Leonard Cohen

You could consider it the
nursing mother of all under heaven.
I myself do not know its name,
But for starters call it the way.
Pushed to make up a name,
You could call it Great
– Lao Tzu

Reconciliation is not to quickly forgive and forget, as if it never happened or we somehow are gifted with a form of amnesia. Reconciliation requires that we remember and change, but with honesty about our experience and curiosity about the humanness of the other whom we fear.
– John Paul Lederach

The word reconciliation comes from the words meaning “flow together again”
When people reconcile with one another, they are able to live in harmony.

The Hardest Word
by Kirsty MacColl
With me in the valley you out on the hill
I can just see you if I close my eyes
Climbing those mountains I picture you still
I see your smile just as I saw the sunrise
This land is ancient it’s built out of bones
At war with each other, the mother, the father
The sisters, the brothers, the daughters and sons
Be kind to each other, your father, your mother
On the horizon the eagles are flying
And I mean no more than a cloud in the sky
I never know if I’m laughing or crying
The hardest word is the word goodbye
Teach me the old ways I’m ready to learn
Be kind to the sister, be kind to the brother
The writer, the singer, the poet, the clown
Be good to the man and be kind to them all
And we are ancient built from bones
Make time for the young and make time for the old
Be kind to each other oh that’s what I know
Be kind to the mothers, daughters and sons
The true and the great and the scared and the small
Be kind to each other, be kind to them all
Forgive our indignity and we forgive yours
As I am the mother, you are the father
Entwined in each other, now and forever
The fathers of daughters, the mothers of sons
Forever and ever and ever as one
As we are the fathers, we are the sons
And we are the daughters, the mothers and brothers
Forever and ever and ever as one

Last night I had the strangest dream
I’d ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war
I dreamed I saw a mighty room
Filled with women and men
And the paper they were signing said
They’d never fight again
And when the paper was all signed
And a million copies made
They all joined hands and bowed their heads
And grateful prayers were prayed
And the people in the streets below
Were dancing ’round and ’round
While swords and guns and uniforms
Were scattered on the ground
Last night I had the strangest dream
I’d never dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war.
– Pete Seeger

Yom Kippur
by Beth Kander

I won’t eat, she thought, and that will fix it.

I’ll spend the day fasting and praying as my ancestors did. I’ll wear white clothes and somber expressions. I will murmur ancient prayers and close my eyes and connect with something bigger than myself.

I’ll ask nicely.

I’ll say please.

Over and over, I’ll say I’m sorry.

I’ll apologize to God.

And things will be better.

But first, she thought, I’ll eat.

I’ll make the sort of meal that will see me through twenty-six hours of refraining from repast. I’ll fill my belly and fortify myself for the denial ahead. I’ll be ready.

I’ll have seconds.

I’ll say yes to dessert.

And things will be better.

She ate alone.

Plenty of food.

Her phone buzzed, and she almost didn’t answer it.

Almost sunset, she thought. Who would be calling?

When she saw who was calling, her heart lost the beat, had trouble regaining its rhythm.

If I answer, she thought, I’ll have to apologize.

The thought was uncomfortable.

It would be easier to just apologize to God.

So much easier.

She almost rejected the call. Instead she slid her finger across the screen, and slipped into the conversation she had avoided for so long.

There was a pause.

A breath in, and out.

The longest exhale.

I’m sorry, they both said.

And things were, incrementally, almost imperceptibly, but undeniably, better.

The next Buddha may take the form of a community, a community practicing understanding and loving kindness, a community practicing mindful living. And the practice can be carried out as a group, as a city, as a nation.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well.
– Jack Kornfield

Fred LaMotte:
You’ll find a new world
in the silence
between thoughts.
Plant seeds of peace

To be able to listen—
really, wholly passively, self-effacingly listen—
without presupposing, classifying, improving, controverting, evaluating,
approving or disapproving,
without dueling with what is being said,
without rehearsing the rebuttal in advance,
without free-associating to portions of what is
being said so that succeeding portions are not heard at all—
such listening is rare.
– Abraham Maslow

Education is an accelerant, an auger, a solvent, a fertilizer, a water-blurred stone in a rising stream—the most necessary, most vital nutrient—the spur and spark of all creativity. Free of all magic—free of capricious “gods”—free of false stars—the truest of untruths—the futile pursuit that fulfills the deepest need. For me, education, is everything.
– Elijah Morton

Finally, you asked what you could do, how to behave. Please, take care of yourself. Seek out beautiful things, inspirations, connections and validating friends. Perhaps you could keep a journal and write stuff down. The written word can put to rest many imagined demons. Identify things that concern you in the world and make incremental efforts to remedy them. At all costs, try to cultivate a sense of humour. See things through that courageous heart of yours. Be merciful to yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be kind.
– Nick Cave

It is difficult to learn the names of the vows,
let alone observe them.
So at least you should strive
to be loving to people,
especially those who are close to you
such as friends, relatives,
Dharma brothers and sisters, and neighbours. Try to avoid harming them.
Be respectful to them,
as all are enlightened in their true nature.
Then, in a simple way,
you are moving towards
fulfilling the pratimoksha vow
of not harming others,
the bodhisattvas’ vow
of being loving to others,
and the tantric vow of pure perception.
– H.H. 4th Dodrupchen Rinpoche

The Sound of One Hand

The master of Kennin temple was Mokurai, Silent Thunder. He had a little protege named Toyo who was only twelve years old. Toyo saw the older disciples visit the master’s room each morning and evening to receive instruction in sanzen or personal guidance in which they were given koans to stop mind-wandering.

Toyo wished to do sanzen also.

“Wait a while,” said Mokurai. “You are too young.”

But the child insisted, so the teacher finally consented.

In the evening little Toyo went at the proper time to the threshold of Mokurai’s sanzen room. He struck the gong to announce his presence, bowed respectfully three times outside the door, and went to sit before the master in respectful silence.

“You can hear the sound of two hands when they clap together,” said Mokurai. “Now show me the sound of one hand.”

Toyo bowed and went to his room to consider this problem. From his window he could hear the music of the geishas. “Ah, I have it!” he proclaimed.

The next evening, when his teacher asked him to illustrate the sound of one hand, Toyo began to play the music of the geishas.

“No, no,” said Mokurai. “That will never do. That is not the sound of one hand. You’ve not got it at all.”

Thinking that such music might interrupt, Toyo moved his abode to a quiet place. He meditated again. “What can the sound of one hand be?” He happened to hear some water dripping. “I have it,”imagined Toyo.

When he next appeared before his teacher, Toyo imitated dripping water.

“What is that?” asked Mokurai. “That is the sound of dripping water, but not the sound of one hand. Try again.”

In vain Toyo meditated to hear the sound of one hand. He heard the sighing of the wind. But the sound was rejected.

He heard the cry of an owl. This also was refused.

The sound of one hand was not the locusts.

For more than ten times Toyo visited Mokurai with different sounds. All were wrong. For almost a year he pondered what the sound of one hand might be.

At last little Toyo entered true meditation and transcended all sounds. “I could collect no more,” he explained later, “so I reached the soundless sound.”

Toyo had realized the sound of one hand.

Jac O’Keeffe:
The greatest teaching is in silence.
If you’re silent enough, things come to you.
The wisdom is inside of you.

Even a good thing isn’t as good as nothing.
– Zen proverb

The great Sufi Dhūl-Nūn al-Misrī said, “Whatever you think, God is the opposite of that.”

We meet in a shared lucid dream some will locate in their future, others in the past. Unintended effect: generating an alternate world timeline. Gotta watch that.
– Robert Moss

Gratitude to the Unknown Instructors
by William Butler Yeats

What they undertook to do
They brought to pass;
All things hang like a drop of dew
Upon a blade of grass.

Solidity of bark, leaf, or wall
riprap of things:
Cobble of milky way,
straying planets,
These poems, people,
lost ponies with
Dragging saddles

– Gary Snyder

I step out and suddenly notice this.

Summer arrives, has arrived, is arriving.

Birds grow less than leaves although they cheep, dip, arc, a call across the tall fence from an invisible neighbor to his child is heard right down to the secret mood and the child also hears.

One hears in the silence that follows the great desire for approval and love which summer holds aloft, all damp leeched from it like a thing floating out on a frail but perfect twig end.

Light seeming to darken in it yet glow.

Please, it says, but not with the eager and need of spring.

Come what may, says summer, smack in the middle I will stand and breathe, the future is a super fluidity I do not taste, no, there is no numbering here, it is a gorgeous swelling, no emotion, as in this love is no emotions, no, also no memory. We have it all now and all there ever was is us now.
– Jorie Graham

All Down the Lake

It wasn’t so much that the dinner conversation
had bored me as that I was simply tired
of words, particularly my own. So afterwards
I slipped away and followed the path down
to the boathouse, where I sat in a lawn chair.
The lake was perfectly still, the inky hills
on the far shore mirrored between two skies
of deepening blue and streaked with clouds
tinged with the last pink. At first I didn’t notice
the strange sounds, then didn’t recognize them
as human: the faint, distorted, jumbled voices
of dinner conversations all down the lake’s
mile length, sliding across the glossy surface
only to rebound off the shore and swirl together
in a confusion of murmurous babble.
Now and then a weird inflection or wild laugh
broke free from the hubbub and twisted up
like a bottle rocket left over from the Fourth.
It was a relief and, really, a pleasure
not to make out the words, or even the coherent
intonations of sense-making and just focus
on the hallucinatory, far-off din. Then slowly,
as the dinner parties one-by-one dispersed,
the voices dropped away until only
a few remained—less alien-sounding now—
then none, the lake itself a mind
that had finally quieted its chatter
just as the first stars glimmered into being
and a bullfrog started calling, deep and steady.
– Jeffrey Harrison

I’ve learned over the years to free-fall into what’s happening… Things start to happen under your pencil that you don’t want to happen, or don’t understand. But that’s when the work starts to have a beating heart.
– Andre Dubus III

Anthony Bourdain wrote:

Americans love Mexican food. We consume nachos, tacos, burritos, tortas, enchiladas, tamales and anything resembling Mexican in enormous quantities. We love Mexican beverages, happily knocking back huge amounts of tequila, mezcal, and Mexican beer every year. We love Mexican people—we sure employ a lot of them. Despite our ridiculously hypocritical attitudes towards immigration, we demand that Mexicans cook a large percentage of the food we eat, grow the ingredients we need to make that food, clean our houses, mow our lawns, wash our dishes, and look after our children. As any chef will tell you, our entire service economy—the restaurant business as we know it—in most American cities, would collapse overnight without Mexican workers. Some, of course, like to claim that Mexicans are “stealing American jobs.” But in two decades as a chef and employer, I never had ONE American kid walk in my door and apply for a dishwashing job, a porter’s position—or even a job as a prep cook. Mexicans do much of the work in this country that Americans, probably, simply won’t do.

We love Mexican drugs. Maybe not you personally, but “we”, as a nation, certainly consume titanic amounts of them—and go to extraordinary lengths and expense to acquire them. We love Mexican music, Mexican beaches, Mexican architecture, interior design, Mexican films.

So, why don’t we love Mexico?

We throw up our hands and shrug at what happens and what is happening just across the border. Maybe we are embarrassed. Mexico, after all, has always been there for us, to service our darkest needs and desires. Whether it’s dress up like fools and get passed-out drunk and sunburned on spring break in Cancun, throw pesos at strippers in Tijuana, or get toasted on Mexican drugs, we are seldom on our best behavior in Mexico. They have seen many of us at our worst. They know our darkest desires.

In the service of our appetites, we spend billions and billions of dollars each year on Mexican drugs—while at the same time spending billions and billions more trying to prevent those drugs from reaching us. The effect on our society is everywhere to be seen. Whether it’s kids nodding off and overdosing in small town Vermont, gang violence in L.A., burned out neighborhoods in Detroit—it’s there to see. What we don’t see, however, haven’t really noticed, and don’t seem to much care about, is the 80,000 dead in Mexico, just in the past few years—mostly innocent victims. Eighty thousand families who’ve been touched directly by the so-called “War On Drugs”.

Mexico. Our brother from another mother. A country, with whom, like it or not, we are inexorably, deeply involved, in a close but often uncomfortable embrace. Look at it. It’s beautiful. It has some of the most ravishingly beautiful beaches on earth. Mountains, desert, jungle. Beautiful colonial architecture, a tragic, elegant, violent, ludicrous, heroic, lamentable, heartbreaking history. Mexican wine country rivals Tuscany for gorgeousness. Its archeological sites—the remnants of great empires, unrivaled anywhere. And as much as we think we know and love it, we have barely scratched the surface of what Mexican food really is. It is NOT melted cheese over tortilla chips. It is not simple, or easy. It is not simply “bro food” at halftime. It is in fact, old—older even than the great cuisines of Europe, and often deeply complex, refined, subtle, and sophisticated. A true mole sauce, for instance, can take DAYS to make, a balance of freshly (always fresh) ingredients painstakingly prepared by hand. It could be, should be, one of the most exciting cuisines on the planet, if we paid attention. The old school cooks of Oaxaca make some of the more difficult and nuanced sauces in gastronomy. And some of the new generation—many of whom have trained in the kitchens of America and Europe—have returned home to take Mexican food to new and thrilling heights.

It’s a country I feel particularly attached to and grateful for. In nearly 30 years of cooking professionally, just about every time I walked into a new kitchen, it was a Mexican guy who looked after me, had my back, showed me what was what, and was there—and on the case—when the cooks like me, with backgrounds like mine, ran away to go skiing or surfing or simply flaked. I have been fortunate to track where some of those cooks come from, to go back home with them. To small towns populated mostly by women—where in the evening, families gather at the town’s phone kiosk, waiting for calls from their husbands, sons and brothers who have left to work in our kitchens in the cities of the North. I have been fortunate enough to see where that affinity for cooking comes from, to experience moms and grandmothers preparing many delicious things, with pride and real love, passing that food made by hand from their hands to mine.

In years of making television in Mexico, it’s one of the places we, as a crew, are happiest when the day’s work is over. We’ll gather around a street stall and order soft tacos with fresh, bright, delicious salsas, drink cold Mexican beer, sip smoky mezcals, and listen with moist eyes to sentimental songs from street musicians. We will look around and remark, for the hundredth time, what an extraordinary place this is.

The received wisdom is that Mexico will never change. That is hopelessly corrupt, from top to bottom. That it is useless to resist—to care, to hope for a happier future. But there are heroes out there who refuse to go along. On this episode of “Parts Unknown,” we meet a few of them. People who are standing up against overwhelming odds, demanding accountability, demanding change—at great, even horrifying personal cost.

Ironically, making an appeal to our “common humanity”, as a way of getting around the intractability of the race question, reinforces racialized categories of thought. Such appeals are permeated with a costly universalism, one that requires bodies of all kinds to sustain its complicated claims to sublime heights; one that is constantly burdened with the need to pathologize deviations from its standards and legislate difference (as if difference were an unfortunate thing).

Needless to say, I do not think stripping away ‘racial layers’ means we will arrive at the “human” beneath, free from those loathsome burdens; there is no somatic purity underneath semiotic filth. The soma is already a political matter, a racial matter, a theological matter, an economic matter, a matter of loss and fortune and legacies and faith.
Instead of leaping into a presumably post-racial world, I’d rather invest in examining the ways the very concept, materialities, and contours of race are changing, transitioning, becoming different, becoming stranger: I’d like to sit at the crossroads where my black skin is both protecting my organs and participating in migrant planetary orgies of the fifth kind; I’d like the forbidden pleasures of a counter-modern politics that is capable of acknowledging that white identities are (and have historically been) granted creaturely comforts within globalizing/colonizing politico-economies (white settlements), while simultaneously noticing that “white identity” is not a metaphysical axiom or an inherited original sin, fixed in Euclidean spacetime, requiring salvation in a workshop or exhausting apologies – and that it too is volatile and transient with/in a world that is never settled.

More critically, I yearn for a politics of defamiliarization: a weird aesthetic that brings us close to the utter unspeakability of a world that exceeds our attempts to fix it, reduce it to intelligible terms, control it, or own it. A buck-toothed teenage world that reminds me of its awkward limbs and blushing attempts to be social. A politics that whispers to me that the meaning of race is yet to come.
– Bayo Akomolafe

Enlightenment is an experience
of an absence of paranoia.
– Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse

There is always a temptation to diddle around in the contemplative life, making itsy bitsy statues.
– Thomas Merton

When crows find a dying snake,
they behave as if they were eagles.
When I see myself as a victim,
I am hurt by trifling failures.
– Shantideva

The object of art is not to make salable pictures. It is to save yourself. The thing of course, is to make yourself alive. Most people remain all of their lives in a stupor.

The point of being an artist is that you may live.
– Sherwood Anderson

O Small Sad Ecstasy of Love
I like being with you all night with closed eyes.
What luck—here you are
along the stars!
I did a road trip
all over my mind and heart
there you were
kneeling by the roadside
with your little toolkit
fixing something.

Give me a world, you have taken the world I was.
– Anne Carson

Great truths are contained inside small absurdities.
– Andrew Bacevich

I thought it was impossible to have a better life than Anthony Bourdain. But his final bittersweet gift just knocked me on my ass with the stark reminder that adventure, love, prosperity, prestige…anything we aspire to at all…is really just the currency we use to buy the four things that really matter: dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins. Realizing that even that kiss that melts your heart… only melts it because those four fairy godmothers waved their magic wands and turned your brain into a freakin princess. But if our brain hits us with a really shitty exchange rate, if suddenly winning that Academy Award only buys us a day’s ration of serotonin, then how the hell are we supposed to stock up for our whole lives? That Anthony Bourdain can stand on the highest mountain and feel nothing but a desire to move toward oblivion is all I need to kick me in the ass and ask the most important question, how’s my exchange rate? What can I do to get more joy out of everyhting I’m presented with, big or small? How does anyone do that? I guess there begins one’s lifelong quest for God, psychedelic drugs, transcendental meditation, or whatever the hell else you need to do to bring true value to the external pleasures of the world. Anything that promises, not pleasure, but perspective. There’s a good case to be made that those are the things worth seeking first, before even love and success. Because watching my little boy flood his brain with happiness because he found a cool stick on the lawn is all the evidence I need that “how you experience” is so much more important than “what you experience.
– Sean Carter

Summer Magic
So many cares to vex the day,
So many fears to haunt the night,
My heart was all but weaned away
From every lure of old delight.
Then summer came, announced by June,
With beauty, miracle and mirth.
She hung aloft the rounding moon,
She poured her sunshine on the earth,
She drove the sap and broke the bud,
She set the crimson rose afire.
She stirred again my sullen blood,
And waked in me a new desire.
Before my cottage door she spread
The softest carpet nature weaves,
And deftly arched above my head
A canopy of shady leaves.
Her nights were dreams of jeweled skies,
Her days were bowers rife with song,
And many a scheme did she devise
To heal the hurt and soothe the wrong.
For on the hill or in the dell,
Or where the brook went leaping by
Or where the fields would surge and swell
With golden wheat or bearded rye,
I felt her heart against my own,
I breathed the sweetness of her breath,
Till all the cark of time had flown,
And I was lord of life and death.
– Leslie Pinckney Hill

Daydream about finding a diverse and left-y small town with quirky bookstores and great coffee and old houses that aren’t a million dollars. Does this place exist?
– Stephanie Sylverne

So proud
of brilliant writers
doing hard things
– Calvert Morgan

The Latin word ‘solstitium’ breaks down as follows: the sun (‘sol’) suddenly stands still (‘stare’) in its progress across the heavens, having reached its maximum boreal or astral declination.
– Quignard, Abysses, tr. Chris Turner

I still struggle immensely with the loss of people from my life, especially when they leave abruptly. I’ve been ghosted enough by partners, friends, and family that I expect to not feel the sting as badly. But it never hurts any less, never stops becoming internalized.
– Travis Chi Wing Lau

Ours is an age between world views, creative yet disoriented, a transitional era when the old cultural vision no longer holds and the new has not yet constellated.
– Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche

I’ve been remembering how completely optional it is to take the time to be someone’s friend, and how deeply grateful I am for the close friends who make time for me.
– Ethan Nichtern

Adventure-seasoned and storm-buffeted,
I shun all signs of anchorage, because
The zest of life exceeds the bound of laws.
– Claude McKay

Crossing over
a summer stream
sandals in hand
– Buson

Jung chose to use the word archetype, instead of instinct, in order to emphasize that the same stored pattern might present itself through either instinctual behavior or through images.
– Robin Robertson, The Shadow’s Gift

A poet is never just a woman or a man. Every poet is salted with fire. A poet is a mirror, a transcriber.
– Susan Howe

Oh, to be rid of my fixed ideas of how things “ought” to be.
– Susan Sontag

Poetry is subconscious conversation, it is as much the work of those who understand it and those who make it.
– Sonia Sanchez

But do not fear me because my language is strange /
I bring neither happiness nor misery /
Nor do I drape flags across chests /
Nor bring the rings of planets /

I guide my chest to my mouth /
And my mouth to the door of the dream.

– Pablo Neruda

Lesson One: I give up.

– Zen saying

words do not
do not make love
they make absence
– Alejandra Pizarnik

Picasso painted such beautiful doves, and still we send human beings into the desert to blow up buildings.
– Kelly Schirmann

On average, the deeper people’s knowledge of a topic, the more calmly they talk about it.
– Paul Graham

Happiness reigns
it’s carts pulling me.
Yeah, my future is bright
but my past’s trying to ruin me.
– Kae Tempest, Let Them Eat Chaos

war doesn’t quite
greet endless aesthetics
or perhaps they
touch like two
digitally composed
globes that animate
one globular unreal
& easily perceived
something on the
verge of something
– Anselm Berrigan

Not Blind
by Taghrid Abdelal

No it isn’t. But love
took one of my eyes for itself, love
had vision before birth, did
discuss with me the accuracy
of what transpires in lenses.

And then it went blind—slowly
soaked us up from behind a veil,
and we couldn’t see it.

A deaf air said to me
that borders believe
space is smaller than the world
since children draw Earth
smaller than their houses
and draw eyes bigger than their faces.

Here love failed to find its eyes,
borrowed my lips
for better form.

Love, why don’t you stay as you are,
without official title,
subsistent on whoever desires you
for five minutes
before your suicide?

How cruel
you announce your sex
with paradise.

– translated by Fady Joudah

An infinite reservoir of cosmic wisdom resides in the depths of contemplation.
– Roy Gillett

Solstice walk
in the rain
on the longest day.

How vivid in colour our world is.

Gentle pitter-patter of droplets
on pavement
mixing with burbling notes,
tiny songsters
amidst the foliage.

Music is imbued in our everyday.
What whispers carry to you
on the wind?
– Ahlyah Ali

In my heart its always summer, always sea, always us.
– @VladaMars

June Sunset
by Sarojini Naidu

Here shall my heart find its haven of calm,
By rush-fringed rivers and rain-fed streams
That glimmer thro’ meadows of lily and palm.
Here shall my soul find its true repose
Under a sunset sky of dreams
Diaphanous, amber and rose.
The air is aglow with the glint and whirl
Of swift wild wings in their homeward flight,
Sapphire, emerald, topaz, and pearl.
Afloat in the evening light.

A brown quail cries from the tamarisk bushes,
A bulbul calls from the cassia-plume,
And thro’ the wet earth the gentian pushes
Her spikes of silvery bloom.
Where’er the foot of the bright shower passes
Fragrant and fresh delights unfold;
The wild fawns feed on the scented grasses,
Wild bees on the cactus-gold.

An ox-cart stumbles upon the rocks,
And a wistful music pursues the breeze
From a shepherd’s pipe as he gathers his flocks
Under the pipal-trees.
And a young Banjara driving her cattle
Lifts up her voice as she glitters by
In an ancient ballad of love and battle
Set to the beat of a mystic tune,
And the faint stars gleam in the eastern sky
To herald a rising moon.

Poetry is truly an anaerobic creature, creating the atmosphere to sustain itself from the very atmosphere of itself that it creates. It is foolish to look outside the act of making poetry for that oxygen. One’s personal poetry, the fruit of one’s temperament, is an unassailable realm. Its success or failure has hardly anything to do with anyone else in the deepest sense.
– Thomas McCarthy

You don’t solve a maze by rushing through. You have to stop and think. You have to walk slowly and carefully, reining in your energy – otherwise you’ll get hopelessly lost.
– Ryan Holiday

Ask for an emerald belt,
hung with home tools, peacemakers:
wooden spoon, string of pearls,
basket of wild rush and hummingbird feathers.

Ask for the waters of resolution,
sea sponge of re-awaken.

Exchange your sackcloth for verdigris spandex,
cut low over the kidneys,
let your curves have voice and belly bell out,
exchange breath with candlelight:
burn in and out slowly.

Suddenly you are entirely jasmine,
blooming as never before,
valley turned tumult of bright,
bougainvillea and wild white poppy.
Air a fine vintage, sparkling, and slightly acidic,
scent of acacia and amor seco.

Tell stories on hectares of corn, ox plowed,
Scythed into rampant lush, burrofest come fall.

Make your heart an infusion for the Beloved to sip.
Make thirst be as lips to cup, as stars strewn across fish net.
Don’t take a ruler to the need to belong together –
Use eons, use raspberries,

there is no ledger sheet in love.

Stir profit and loss until the heat of spin and sunder
turn into powder and dissolve.
Throw the switch on the erotic circuit:
That’s the secret of marine phosphorescence,
water gone sweet, enrobe us,
pure bonbon, in depths of fallen light.

Considering surface,
cast a serpent on the waters –
you’ll be the lucky one, rolling over in the morning from dream
into those freckled arms!
Say: What makes me dive in headfirst,
Meaning: Refractory pattern of calcite bring us to color twice over.

Drench us into life, O Isis,
Xochiquetzal, ignite us into pleasure,
honeysuckle sweet, sharp as sensual grassblade –
Dakinis, take us to winds extreme,
Lilith, paint us into our darkness,
Gaia, Ala, Izanami, send us to seed, seeking light,
Brigid of the Wells, may we be wriggle and liquefy,
Numi, teach us to shed skin, re-claim freshet and seep.

When the knight asks what ails you,
you can answer as ever with the health of meadows,
the warbler’s long song.
– Judyth Hill

My sense of hope can get a little wobbly on a Monday. It’s the day when our present circumstances can feel the most endless to me. But I keep learning how blessedly stubborn hope can be—true hope, real hope, hope that is something quite other than wishful thinking. Hope seems to keep working in me like a deep muscle memory, setting me in motion when I don’t know how to move on my own. If your own hope has been getting wobbly, this is for you.


So may we know
the hope
that is not just
for someday
but for this day—
here, now,
in this moment
that opens to us:

hope not made
of wishes
but of substance,

hope made of sinew
and muscle
and bone,

hope that has breath
and a beating heart,

hope that will not
keep quiet
and be polite,

hope that knows
how to holler
when it is called for,

hope that knows
how to sing
when there seems
little cause,

hope that raises us
from the dead—

not someday
but this day,
every day,
again and
again and

– Jan Richardson, The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief

Coconut water tastes like a reminder that we can’t have everything we want.
– @monetwithlove

The neurotic has the feeling that he wants something, can’t say what it is, and is nevertheless frustrated not to get it. Satisfaction having been foreclosed long ago, he becomes a kind of hesitant, recessive, bemused personality.
– Benjamin Kunkel

I want to rediscover the secret of great speech and of great burning. I want to say storm. I want to say river. I want to say tornado. I want to say leaf, I want to say tree. I want to be soaked by every rainfall, moistened by every dew. As frenetic blood rolls on the slow current of the eye, I want to roll words like maddened horses like new children like clotted milk like curfew like traces of a temple like precious stones buried deep enough to daunt all miners. The man who couldn’t understand me couldn’t understand the roaring of a tiger.
– Aimé Césaire, Return to my Native Land, translated by John Berger and Anne Bostock

Cosmic Suffering by Chögyam Trungpa

The question of basic pain, or cosmic suffering, is not so much one of physical pain, but it is more like a basic ache, basic uncertainty, or basic neurosis. You feel fundamentally terrible and resentful that the world has cheated you. It is the basic pain of resentfulness, which aspirins cannot cure. The problem is that we are unable to work with reality properly and fully. We reflect constantly on society and the world. When it is too hot, we think it should be cold; when it is too cold, we think it should be hot. We would like to control the cosmos, to have whatever we want! We want complete hospitality to be established.

– Exposing Ego’s Dirty Tricks, Milarepa: Lessons from the Life and Songs of Tibet’s Great Yogi

Why do we need a guru?

Because in order to cure our diseased minds, we need the help of someone who knows
how to do it. Since it is extremely difficult
to understand how the mind works,
we need the guidance of an expert in this area.

Furthermore, gaining liberation,
or inner freedom, is not an easy thing. Everything we have ever said or done
on this trip we call life
has had its origin in the mind,
and in the same way, the entire path
to liberation and enlightenment
depends on the mind.

However, if we think of all our life’s experiences, how convinced are we
that they have all come from the mind?
In order to really understand how this is true, we need someone with the right kind
of knowledge to explain it to us.
In other words, we need a guru.

If we just think about this in a superficial way, we’ll probably say to ourselves,
“I know what I want;
I know what my life’s about.”
We might think we know, but we really don’t.
For example, we think environmental pollution comes from industry,
but where does industry come from?
It’s a creation of the human mind.
In the same way, all the world’s confusion,
from that of societies to that of the individual, is mind-created. If people could simply imbue their minds with peaceful tranquility
and loving kindness,
none of the world problems we see around us would arise.

In order to develop peaceful tranquility of mind, we have to employ a method
that brings that result.
Since we don’t know what such methods are
or how to put them into practice,
we need an experienced teacher
to show us that reality.

We can say that there are two types of guru—relative and absolute.
The absolute guru is the all-knowing wisdom that is one with bliss;
that wisdom is the absolute guru.
In order to realize this wisdom within ourselves, we need a relative guru to show us how.

Therefore, guru doesn’t necessarily
mean something physical,
but beginners, who don’t possess much inner knowledge, definitely need a physical guru. After some time, when we have enough confidence and self-knowledge
to travel the path to enlightenment alone,
we don’t need to always be in the presence
of our relative guru, but until that time,
we’re like yo-yos. When we’re around our guru, our mind is subdued, but as soon
as we’re a mile or two away,
our mind goes completely berserk.
That shows how we are.

Putting it another way,
the guru is the antidote to the confused mind—as long as they are the right guru.
A guru who’s a bad influence and leads us
to more confusion and restlessness
is a false guru; not a guru at all.

– Lama Thubten Yeshe

…nothing but brain pollen.
– Shinzen

When it’s going well, it’s a pleasure. When it’s not going well, it’s like working with a crane to lift words onto the page.
– Paula Fox

Half a page—and the morning is already ancient.
– Michael Ondaatje

And I wait
For your warm, full voice to come to me
Like the music of falling stars
And the sound of tumbling jewels.
I cry
Because you have thought of me
And have called me
From the invisible world.
– Nizar Qabbani

I believe that we must re-establish a culture of monasteries, that one day or another – perhaps I will be dead before – it will be necessary for those who still read to retire in large phalansteries, perhaps in the countryside , like the Amish of Pennsylvania.
– Umberto Eco

I still think the revolution is to make the world safe for poetry, meandering, for the frail and the vulnerable, the rare and obscure, the impractical and local and small.
– Rebecca Solnit

When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.
– Jacob Riis

Suppose that what you fear
could be trapped
and held in Paris.
Then you would have
the courage to go
everywhere in the world.
All the directions of the compass
open to you,
except the degrees east or west
of true north
that lead to Paris.

You’re not really willing
to stand on a mountainside,
miles away,
and watch the Paris lights
come up at night.
Just to be on the safe side,
you decide to stay completely
out of France.
But then danger
seems too close
even to those boundaries,
and you feel
the timid part of you
covering the whole globe again.
You need the kind of friend
who learns your secret and says,
“See Paris first.”
– Marsha Truman Cooper, Substantial Holdings

The Garden of Forking Paths is an incomplete, but not false, image of the universe as Ts’ui Pên conceived it. In contrast to Newton and Schopenhauer, your ancestor did not believe in a uniform, absolute time. He believed in an infinite series of times, in a growing, dizzying net of divergent, convergent and parallel times. This network of times which approached one another, forked, broke off, or were unaware of one another for centuries, embraces all possibilities of time. We do not exist in the majority of these times; in some you exist, and not I; in others I, and not you; in others, both of us. In the present one, which a favorable fate has granted me, you have arrived at my house; in another, while crossing the garden, you found me dead; in still another, I utter these same words, but I am a mistake, a ghost.
– Jorge Luis Borges

our voice is wild and simple.
You are untranslatable
Into any one tongue.
– Anna Akhmatova

The Feral Ones
by Tad Hargrave
I’ve been reading a book recently, The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks and I wanted to share a passage from it,
“Shepherds hate other people’s dogs near their sheep. Whilst our sheepdogs are our proudest and most loved servants, other people’s dogs pose thing but a problem to all of us, because a dog that hasn’t been trained and is left off the lead near sheep can get too excited and go into full hunting mode. It can be difficult to get dog owners to understand the threat, but about once every two years, throughout my adult life, a dog has given chase to a sheep or a lamb and before you know it the sheep is pulled down, or lies down, exhausted. Because the dog has not been trained to control itself in these situations, it tears at the wool or the skin, until you have a sheep it its ears torn, or its throat ripped out. About once every month we have a dog incident that threatens to escalate… One person’s freedom is another man’s misery.”
The problem of course, isn’t with all canines. It’s not inherent in the canine species to behave this way. Foxes and wolves don’t do this. They hunt to kill and eat. Wild animals do not kill for sport. They have been raised in the wild and been mentored by the older animals in their packs. They’ve seen how it is and how to behave. They know that there is no bowl of food waiting for them at home to feed them.
Other trained sheepdogs would not do this. They know how to behave around sheep. They know they have a bowl of food at home and that, with these animals, their role is that of protector, not predator. They’re there to corral them, not kill them.
Feral animals do this. A feral animal is stuck between domesticated life and their inner wildness. They’re neither fully trained neither fully wild and so, when their blood gets up, they don’t know what to do with those feelings. And so animals get chased and mauled but then not eaten. I suppose to the feral animals, it’s all good sport. It’s fun. I don’t imagine there are any bad intentions on the dog’s part. Being stuck in between worlds, they don’t see what a violation of the natural way of things it is. They are simply doing what feral dogs know to do.
Of course, the shepherd isn’t really mad at the dog. They dog is just doing what comes naturally to it. They’re mad at the dog’s owner for letting them off their leash. Some owners have no idea the havoc their dogs can wreak. Others do but, perhaps thinking they’ll get away with it, or because they see no sheep nearby or just because, at the end of the day, they value their freedom to go for a beautiful countryside walk more than they value sheep of the farmers and the farmer’s time and emotional well being.
It seems to me that there are parallels here between this and the ways that I have seen white men approach conversations about racism. It seems like a feral approach. And yet, white people can’t seem to understand why people of colour do not want them anywhere near their carefully tended flocks of conversations and experiences around racism. People of colour have had so many experiences of white people, tethered to no one or nothing that might know better about how to engage or not engage with this exciting new thing, who simply charge into the fray, their nervous systems shot to overwhelm and lacking a deep, indigenous and respectful approach or any training on how to contend with these issues. And they’ve seen the damage it causes while the white people trot off, pleased with themselves and the fun they’ve had while their flock has been badly frightened and some injured or killed.
A wild animal is tethered to its wildness and its pack.
A domesticated animal is tethered to its training and owners.
A feral animal is tethered to nothing.
And, in this modern, freedom-addicted, limit-hating and growth-obsessed world, white men seem to be tethered to nothing at all. Not to land. Not to people. Not to community. Not to consequence.
People of colour have had well intentioned white people, who should know better, bring friends to diverse events and seen those friends act in ways were destructive to the event itself. And they look to the one who brought them as if to say, “What the fuck were you thinking?”
I recall hosting a party once and a woman who, until that moment, I had deeply respected, brought two guests: a husband and wife. The wife carried a spiritually aloof vibe that was strange but forgivable. The husband wandered around making all of the women uncomfortable with how much he was touching them. When they told him not to touch them, he told them they shouldn’t go to parties if they didn’t want to be touched.
I sent a terse email to my friend letting her know that those people were not welcome at my parties anymore.
But, of course, I imagine shepherd’s might sometimes find themselves facing a feral dog with no owner in sight. There’s no dog owner to cuss out and so the anger is directed towards these damned city dwelling, tourists and their dogs.
And so, it’s no wonder when people of colour express their exasperation at ‘white people’ for the way they behave and how that frustration boils over when white people, imagining they know so much, tell people of colour that they shouldn’t be so angry with white people. It must boggle their minds.
White people don’t see the damage that this system of white supremacy wreaks on the lives of people of colour and we don’t easily see the ways that we act as instruments of it. And we don’t see the consequence of our doing nothing about it.
For white people, conversations about racism are often intellectual banter, a chance to flex debating skills and to play our favourite game, Devil’s Advocate. For people of colour, racism isn’t a conversation. It’s a daily, life and death reality.
If I were a person of colour, I imagine I’d be deeply suspicious of white people appearing in social justice circles as well. The track record is not good.
Consider the words of Muhammed Ali, “There are many white people who mean right and in their hearts wanna do right. If 10,000 snakes were coming down that aisle now, and I had a door that I could shut, and in that 10,000, 1,000 meant right, 1,000 rattlesnakes didn’t want to bite me, I knew they were good… Should I let all these rattlesnakes come down, hoping that that thousand get together and form a shield? Or should I just close the door and stay safe?”
James Rebanks continues by recounting a particular story of a dog owner to whom the riot act was read.
“When I was growing up, I thought my father and his peers were needlessly rough in their handling of situations like that. They would swear and give people and old-fashioned rollicking if they had their dogs off leads where they shouldn’t have. I used to think that some gentle explaining would suffice. But you live and learn. I’ve tried the gentle friendly approach until I am blue in the face and it generally results in the other people carrying on regardless. So now I rant and rave and generally do a great impression of a furious farmer who will shoot their dogs with immediate effect unless they are put on a lead. It works much better.”
It seems to be something like that.

This is the summit of contemplation, and
no art can touch it
blue, so blue, the far-out archipelago
and the sea shimmering,
no art can touch it, the mind can only
try to become attuned to it
to become quiet, and space itself out, to
become open and still, unworlded
knowing itself in the diamond country, in
the ultimate unlettered light.
– Kenneth White, A high blue day on Scalpay

Dr. Elizabeth Sawin:
Please,” she said reasonably, with a smile, with just the right amount of deference, just the right mix of data and passion, with charts and narrative, with cost curves, and high res video of corals and icecaps, “might we have a livable planet for future generations?

Dr. Elizabeth Sawin:
If one part of your theory is invalid, your theory is invalid. For instance if your theory posits an infinite planet, I’m not super concerned with its finer points. Would instead recommend a new theory

A Persian word for ‘beautiful’ or ‘enchanting’ is ‘del-āvīz’ which means ‘heart-hanger’ or ‘something the heart hangs onto.’
– @PersianPoetics

The true call of the desert, of the mountains, or the sea, is their silence – free of the networks of dead speech.
– Freya Stark, Perseus in the Wind

In fact I think we’d be fooling ourselves if we had a audience this large and didn’t realize that there were some enemies present.
– Malcolm X

by Florence Ripley Mastin

The gray path glided before me
Through cool, green shadows;
Little leaves hung in the soft air
Like drowsy moths;
A group of dark trees, gravely conferring,
Made me conscious of the gaucherie of sound;
Farther on, a slim lilac
Drew me down to her on the warm grass.
“How sweet is peace!”
My serene heart said.

Then, suddenly, in a curve of the road,
Red tulips!
A bright battalion, swaying,
They marched with fluttering flags,
And gay fifes playing!

A swift flame leapt in my heart;
I burned with passion;
I was tainted with cruelty;
I wanted to march in the wind,
To tear the silence with gay music,
And to slash the sober green
Until it sobbed and bled.

The tulips have found me out.

Although few of us attract any really vicious enemies, we always have to deal with people who irritate us. For beginners, quietly to avoid confrontation can be considered a practice. But if you ever get stuck with the most exasperating person on the planet, take a leaf out of Lord Atisha’s book. When he travelled to Tibet, Atisha kept the most infuriating person he knew close to him to make certain he had plenty of opportunities for practising patience. We may not be able to go quite that far, but faced with an unavoidable and exasperating companion, the least we can do is use the opportunity to take irritation as the object of our practice. The point the Buddha was making, though, is that the state of our minds is inevitably reflected in our everyday reactions.
For example, how quickly does your mood change when your plans are frustrated? One minute you feel fine, then a north wind blows up a whole host of memories of past emotional crises and you find yourself reliving every painful detail over and over again. You get into such a state that you cannot keep your unhappiness to yourself and you phone a friend. He listens attentively as you exhibit your pain with no thought of the effect you are having, and soon your friend is as depressed and unsettled as you are. What’s the point?
As an aspiring bodhisattva, if you feel the need to indulge your sufferings, do it alone. Don’t drag anyone else into your emotional extravaganza, particularly if you are a tonglen practitioner and committed to taking on the suffering of all sentient beings rather than sharing it out. Basically, it is high time the dharma actually penetrated the minds of dharma students, especially those who, like myself, have been around a while. And even if you only manage to pull off that kind of penetration once in a hundred attempts, it is an achievement worthy of a medal.
– Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse, Not for Happiness

At the same time I’ve seen quite different effects doing therapeutic Gestalt dreamwork than from doing high doses of vipassana-insight meditation, so there are real patterned differences between different methodological approaches to the mind, and that’s important.

At the end of the day though, it takes a lot of experiential training on both sides to begin to have a nuanced dialogue about this. Not many have the training required to join that conversation…
– Vince Fakhoury Horn

Second only to freedom, learning is the most precious option on earth.
– Norman Cousins

I want to feel both the beauty and the pain of the age we are living in. I want to survive my life without becoming numb. I want to speak and comprehend words of wounding without having these words become the landscape where I dwell. I want to possess a light touch that can elevate darkness to the realm of stars.
– Terry Tempest Williams

I’m reading about the birth of MTV in AARP in case you want to feel old.
– Aileen Weintraub

Imagine having the ability to not just speak rudely to the powerful, but to publicly humiliate them in front of the nation. We can’t really do that now, the public sphere is too diverse — bifurcated and branched out in every possible direction — but 2,500 years ago in Athens you could. Citizens had the right of parrhesia, a kind of radical free speech that allowed them to share their thoughts on any subject or any person, and no one used it more effectively than the comic playwrights of the period.
– Mark Haskell Smith

Glimpses are one of the simplest
and most effective ways
to learn effortless mindfulness.
A glimpse is a type of micro-meditation
that allows you to shift, let go, and open
to an expansive, pervasive awareness grounded in essential peace, love, and wisdom. This awareness is always with you
but is usually obscured by mental chatter
and a self-limited point of view.
Different glimpses work for different people. Try a few and give them several seconds
to several minutes to see if you feel the shift
in your perspective and sense of self.
GLIMPSE: Wordless Awareness
1. Close your eyes. Picture a time when you were doing something like hiking in nature. In your mind, see and feel every detail of that day. Hear the sounds, smell the smells, and feel the air on your skin; notice the enjoyment of being with your companions or by yourself; recall the feeling of walking those last few yards toward your destination.
2. Visualize and feel yourself as you have reached your goal and are looking out over the wide-open vista. Feel that openness, connection to nature, sense of peace and well-being. Having reached your goal, feel what it’s like when there’s no more striving and nothing to do. See that wide-open sky with no agenda to think about, and then simply stop. Feel this deep sense of relief and peace.
3. Now, let go of the visualization, the past, and all associated memories slowly and completely. Remain connected to the joy of being that is here within you.
4. Open your eyes. Realize that the well-being that was experienced then is also here now. It does not require you to go to any particular place in the past or the future once it’s discovered within.
It’s often effective to record the mindful glimpses you like best in your own voice, at a pace that seems right for you. Then listen to your own voice lead you home.
– Loch Kelly

Keep in mind always the present you are constructing; it should be the future you want.
– Alice Walker

If we want to see a more peaceful world, we have to learn to collaborate. Young people shouldn’t follow previous patterns of behaviour. New conditions, like our interdependent, globalised world, require new ideas. Dividing people into ‘us’ and ‘them’ is out of date.
– Dalai Lama

The conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a sound. He depends, for his power, on his ability to make other people powerful.
– Benjamin Zander

One of most important things I have learned seems terribly obvious.

You cannot explicitly change that which is implicit.

And this is where the Warm Data work has been so difficult to defend in a world that seems to have forgotten the potency of the implicit.

It is also so juicy.

– Nora Bateson


Peony, my love,
Chinese flower,
June flower,
garish ball of
sweet perfume,
red, pink, white.

In the house a vase-full
makes the whole place
redolent of peony.

The essence of the start of summer.

– David Budbill, Tumbling Toward the End

Forget the suffering
You caused others.
Forget the suffering
Others caused you.
– Czeslaw Milosz

The “don’t-know” attitude lauded in contemporary Buddhist and mindfulness discourse might serve to deescalate internal tensions ratcheted up by false assumptions and petty judgements.
– Matthew Remski

There is no such thing as permanence at all.
Everything is constantly changing.
Everything is in a flux.
Because you cannot face the impermanence
of all relationships, you invent sentiments,
romance, and dramatic emotions
to give them certainty.
Therefore you are always in conflict.
– U.G. Krishnamurti

I don’t know where a poem comes from until after I’ve lived with it a long time. I’ve a notion that a poem comes from absolutely everything that ever happened to you.
– Donald Hall

Three years after my life collapsed, and I’m still surprised (hurt) when people completely ghost me. They’re always poetry-world people. Poets, if you’re a cowardly cog of a human being, just leave me alone. I have real friends now. And real work to do.
– Joseph Massey

I was never more hated than when I tried to articulate exactly what I felt to be the truth.
– Ralph Ellison

Zen has stolen
all that I know
…Thank you!
– Shinzen

Once you understand symbolic things, you, too, will see symbols everywhere.
– Joseph Campbell

Yeah meditation is cool, but have you tried living a life of integrity on-and-off the cushion?

What’s keeping you from opening to Big Heart?

– Vincent Horn

Thank you for your anger
That says so clearly
“Something is off
Some dignity has not been honored”
Thank you for your messiness
And chaos,
Those perfect responses
To expectations of being in control
And keeping it all together
Being inhumanely tight
Thank you for your shadows
Those permission slips
Into deeper wholeness
Thank you deeply
For those things you’ve called
Your flaws
Those who courageously overthrow
The great oppressor
Dear one!
These cracks are not problems
They’re entrance points
Into authenticity
Our deepest wounds
Are not things to be ashamed of
Accepting them
Is the great shortcut
To God.
– Chelan Harkin

A striking number of political prisoners who wrote memoirs attribute their survival to their ability to tell stories […]. In the world of the camps and the prisons, where books were scarce and films were rare, a good storyteller was highly prized.

Leonid Finkelstein says that he will be forever grateful to a thief who, “on my first prison day, recognized this potential in me, and said, ‘You’ve probably read a lot of books. Tell them to people, and you will be living very well.’ And indeed I was living better than the rest. […] I ran into people who said, ‘You are Leonchik-the-storyteller, I heard about you’ […].”

Alexander Wat retold Stendhal’s The Red and the Black to a group of bandits while in prison. Alexander Dolgun recounted the plot of Les Miserables. Janusz Bardach told the story of The Three Musketeers: “I felt my status rise with every twist of the plot.”

Others found the same. On her hot, stuffy train to Vladivostok, Evgeniya Ginzburg learned that “there were material advantages in reciting poetry … For instance, after each act of Griboyedov’s The Misfortune of Being Clever, I was given a drink of water out of someone else’s mug as a reward for ‘services to the community.

– Anne Applebaum

Stress is caused
by being
wanting to be
– Eckhart Tolle

Kaleidoscopic Empathy via Sophie Strand
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn,” writes T.H. White on the education of the young King Arthur. Arthur, like the sixth century Bard Taliesin, learns not by book, but by becoming. The sixth century poem attributed to Taliesin, reads, “I have been a blue salmon,I have been a dog, a stag, a roebuck on the mountain… A stallion, a bull, a buck, I was reaped and placed in an oven”. In order to become a storyteller, an advisor to kings, and a spiritual intermediary, Taliesin has had to live other lives, other stories. But the most important overlap between the young Arthur and Taliesin is that they learn not by becoming other human beings. They learn by entering into badgers and fish and insects: the minds of the more-than-human world.
The best thing for being sad is interrupting your individuality. Imagine lengthening, feeling your skin polish into sheerness, crystal into glass, your mind fluid, placid. You are a cup of water. And then slowly, purposely, pour yourself into another mode of consciousness. Take on what biologist Jakob von Uexküll called a creature’s “umwelt”: their particular somatic body map, their situated sensory experience of world. Western materialism warns against anthropomorphism. And I agree that the exercise will necessarily fail. Unlike an octopus, my nervous system is not concentrated in my arms. Unlike the mistletoe, I do not know what it is like to parasitically, intimately, invade the body of a cactus. But that does not mean using our imaginative muscle for greater empathy is unimportant. I think, in fact, it is the most important skill for us to be developing as storytellers, artists, scientists, activists, and anyone anguished by escalating extinctions and ecological collapse. The best thing for being sad is practicing being more-than-human.
The injunction against anthropomorphism seems like a misdirection to me. Believing that the world is mindless, mute, matter might be more dangerous than believing that a housecat has a personality, and that a mountain could possess its own lithic eroticism. In fact, it could be argued that the fictional “objectivity” of material reductionism is a grander type of anthropomorphism. Everything belongs to the human. Everything is blanketed by capitalism, our predetermined expectations, our teleology. Everything isn’t necessarily made human, but seen as made “for” humans. Everything is our standing reserve.
This is not a universal belief. Indigenous cultures the world over had known that animals, insects, fungi, landscapes, and weather are other “people”. They don’t behave like us. They don’t even live on the same timescales. But it is deeply important that we tell stories about their experiences. That we actively try to inhabit their wants and needs, so we are not always making decisions from a singular, human perspective. Everything we do is entangled with our ecosystem. Every breath we take loops us into relationship with the trees and grasses and soil around us. It only makes sense that we should try and understand how our decisions might feel and live inside another species body.
What if every time a logging company proposes to cut down a forest, they had to log an intimate story of the experience of every animal, fungi, insect, plant, and stone in that area? Each “chapter” would take into consideration the sensory apparatus, the scientific studies, the indigenous lore, the behavior of each being and then attempt to inhabit it and to experience what the clearcutting would feel like to that situated perspective. Then every logger, every investor, every person involved in the logging operation would have to attend a many weeks long conference where the report was read aloud.
There is much talk, these days, about neural plasticity and neurogenesis. We are concerned with keeping our brains limber and adaptive by challenging them with new tasks and by creating new neural pathways with the aid of psychedelics. Why not also practice empathic plasticity? I tend to like the metaphor and the visual play of the kaleidoscope. Invented by the Scotsman David Brewster in 1817, the optical instrument has been remarkably good at avoiding inclusion in usefulness. It is still, to this day, seen as a marvel and a child’s toy. I have a strong intuition that it is these tools of marvel and beauty, that as John O’Donohue writes, remain “immune to our strategies”, will be of the most help going forward.
Kaleidoscope derives from the Greek word kalos for beauty, eidos for form, and skopéō meaning to consider. Kaleidoscopes tilt mirrors towards each other at an angle, situated within a tube that often contains loose colored cells. Every rotation of the tube provides a stochastic arrangement of the cells, repeating the reflection to create a visually disorienting and stunning display. The view through the kaleidoscope is unpredictable and ever-shifting. Kaleidoscopes ask us to consider the mutable forms of beauty. And they ask us to do this without expectation and without aim. The kaleidoscope is a plaything, a child’s toy. It cannot be easily coopted by dominant paradigms.
I want to offer Kaleidoscopic Empathy as an important exercise for an age of ecological collapse and extinction. The aim is not to “perfect” or “correctly” inhabit another being’s experience. The aim is to play. And to strengthen the muscle of empathy. Practice, whenever you enter into a forest, or go on a walk, or sit by a river, pouring yourself into the mind of every bird, fly, bumble bee, bindweed, grub you see. Center yourself in the wind-buoyed swiftness of the kestrel and then rotate the kaleidoscope, slip into the shadow of the sturgeon below the river surface, beginning to feel the chemical prickle that will lead the fish upstream to spawn. Then again, faster, condense into a Wolbachia bacteria riding inside a mosquito. Get comfortable with being other beings. With considering their experience not just intellectually, but somatically. Go outside and lie down on a patch of grass and melt into a thousand hyphal strands, weaving embodied appetite into the soil. Imagine what it would be like to hear with your whole body, to eat with your whole face.
The aim is not to accomplish anything. The kaleidoscope teaches us agility and play. The aim is to expand our scope for empathy. If, like the boy Arthur, we want to care for the kingdom, we must know what it is like to “be” the kingdom. We must pour ourselves, empathically, curiously, into the world.

Healer’s dis-ease: The occupation of working on our healing BECAUSE we see ourselves as ill, broken, needing to be fixed, or corrected – as if something is wrong with us.
It’s not that there aren’t illnesses, traumas, and growth potentials. THERE ARE AND THEY CAN BE HELL.
BUT our vision of ourselves can become so focused on what’s wrong with us that we begin to think “I AM sick,” in other words, “Sick is who I am” – a kind of self-hypnosis.
This view can become insidiously shaming and damaging to the life project, with serious side effects, including:
– We can become blind to other ways in which our beauty, intelligence, power and divinity shine.
– We can stop forging connections to our depths – areas that may exist totally independent of our illnesses and difficulties.
– We can forget the profound gifts we were given that must be shared and used to build relationships.
– We can disown or disconnect from the enormous powers we have, seeing ourselves as ONLY unable, less than, or victim to our struggles.
– We may even fail to recognize the powers and radicalness inherent in how our difficulties differentiate us for the culture’s status quo.
– We can disonnect from our wildly radical creative impulses, especially if they express themselves outside the norm.
– David Bedrick

I think poetry essentially sensitizes you to the abuses and pleasures and delicacies of the world. It makes you more alert. But a heightened consciousness is often difficult to live with.
– Zeeshan Pathan

The recipe for perpetual ignorance is : Be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.
– Elbert Hubbard, The Philistine

It wasn’t until I moved to the East Coast that I realized that some people just…go somewhere else for the whole summer
– Amber Sparks

I don’t think a writer should speak for a community. You may do it inadvertently, but I don’t think it should be one of your aims.
– Pat Barker

Whether we want it or not, power remains one of the central issues in all of our lives.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Reviewing every once in a while: relationships, perspectives, beliefs, biases, daily habits (including what you eat, drink, consume, listen to, watch, buy, and do), is the way to conscious, empowered living. Step out of any programs not meant for you & choose what’s truly for you
– @IAmMyBestToday

constantly reminded of how, for women, writing about our lives is really rewriting. we are not only generating something new; we are pushing back against what has been written about us & reckoning with all we’ve been told about who we are & should be.
– Madeleine Barnes

Daring not to admit we may be our own deceivers, we anxiously seek someone to accuse of deceiving us.
– Daniel Boorstin

People who are experiencing homelessness get to have standards, preferences, and be picky because they’re people and live in a country where there’s ample resources. They don’t have to gladly accept whatever you give them.
– Dana White

May you exit circles where you feel the need to dilute, shrink, or hide. May your friendships and relationships expand you and cause you to shine.
– Dr. Thema

A clean slate, with your own face on
– @SylviaPlathBot

Whenever I lose faith in poetry I have to remember *which* poetry I’m losing faith in. That distinction is very important.
– Roy G. Guzmán

Emotions come and go. Conscious breathing is my anchor.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Imagine you had one precious lifetime and happened to pop-up during a planetary emergency. What would you do?
– Dr. Elizabeth Sawin

To be stupid, selfish, and have good health
are three requirements for happiness,
though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost.
– Gustave Flaubert

I think the reason
pawns can’t move backwards
is because if they could,
they’d kill their own kings
in a heartbeat.
– Guante

Some answers can be found by looking up or rising above.

Other answers can be found down below, digging in the ground.

– David Bedrick

Frank Ostaseki:

Wise words from an old friend help me orient this morning.

We must shift our allegiances from fear to curiosity, from attachment to letting go, from control to trust, and from entitlement to humility.
– Angeles Arrien

many strive to be extraordinary
setting goals
chasing dreams
pursuing passions
earning medals and honors
quoting sages
yet to be truly extraordinary
learn to be simple
eat when hungry
nap when tired
weed the garden when the soil hearkens
and walk in the woods
till you forget
your name.
– Shinzen

Forget playing
the field.

Do you have
any idea how wild
I could grow
in the flowerpot
beside your desk?
– Andrea Gibson

In reality, in nature, grandmothers are a stabilizing influence on packs and herds. Grandma elephants keep adolescent bulls from going rogue. The presence of a grandmother is the house is the single best predictor for a child’s health and well being. But the priests (of all religions) need to demote the grandmother in order for them to assert their dominance and expertise.
Recently I was visiting a church and saw the young pastor talking about this or that from the pulpit. And in the pew were (mostly) old women…who had birthed children, kept children fed on no money, fought for their families, kept them house, stayed up all night nursing them through fevers, had buried children and lovers. Who is the wisdom holder? To whom should we turn for guidance?
– Perdita Finn

I won’t always be here

wearing these sneakers
eating this oatmeal

I won’t always be here

writing these words
talking, not talking

I won’t always be here

loving who I love

– David Bedrick

A poet yesterday on a zoom said that it’s impossible to feed the spirit in a dense city; maybe that’s the reason for this weird symbiosis.
– Clifford Mynes

Faith is a simple practice, at its best.
– Les Butchart

everything that lives was born from a relationship. broken homes are relationships too. and so are broken hearts. death is the precise moment when we cease all relationships. but we ask: if the fundamental fact of life is the meeting between i and you, why so many failed relationships? we have devoted our mental energies to conquering the world, and some of us to conquering the mind, but we must redirect our searches and begin to learn the hardest of all tasks known to humankind: how to meet a being in genuine relationship. we search within and we search without, and some of us believe that there is a search beyond the within and the without. but the entirety of the human story is our search for lost betweens.
– hune margulies

Today, ten thousand people will die
and their small replacements will bring joy
and this will make sense to someone
removed from any sense of loss.
I, too, will die a little and carry on,
doing some paperwork, driving myself
home. The sky is simply overcast,
nothing is any less than it was
yesterday or the day before. In short,
there’s no reason or every reason
why I’m choosing to think of this now.
The short-lived holiness
true lovers know, making them unaccountable
except to spirit and themselves – suddenly
I want to be that insufferable and selfish,
that sharpened and tuned.
I’m going to think of what it means
to be an animal crossing a highway,
to be a human without a useful prayer
setting off on one of those journeys
we humans take. I don’t expect anything
to change. I just want to be filled up
a little more with what exists,
tipped toward the laughter which understands
I’m nothing and all there is.
By evening, the promised storm
will arrive. A few in small boats
will be taken by surprise.
There will be survivors, and even they will die.
– Stephen Dunn

Soon again the dead will outnumber
the living. Last night the moon was fat. I dreamt
so many dreams, and all were death. I can’t guess
where green goes. Sucked back under
the earth to brood and bear a brash, relentless crop
of weed and wing? Or into the sallow sky to drop
a pale green dusk or help a wan sun rise again,
a sickly dawn?

And what a wilderness to mourn in:
curbs lined with the rotting dead; this wailing in the wind;
the severed hands of sycamores awash downriver
bereft of wrist or limb. Just where
in our faith or physics did we ever consider
what would come of this veined, green
benediction suspended above us all summer?
– Marjorie Stelmach

The Once Invisible Garden

How did I come to be
this particular version of me,
and not some other, this morning
of purple delphiniums blooming,
like royalty—destined
to meet these three dogs
asleep at my feet, and not others—
this soft summer morning,
sitting on her screened porch
become ours, our wind chime,
singing of wind and time,
yellow-white digitalis
feeding bees and filling me—
and more abundance to come:
basil, tomatoes, zucchini.
What luck or fate, instinct,
or grace brought me here?—
in shade, beneath hidden stars,
a soft, summer morning,
seeing with my whole being,
love made visible.
– Laura Foley

Men must want to do things of their own innermost drives. People, not commercial organizations or chains of command, are what make great civilizations work. Every civilization depends upon the quality of the individuals it produces. If you over-organize humans, over-legalize them, suppress their urge to greatness — they cannot work and their civilization collapses.
– Frank Herbert, Children of Dune

How do I look away now that I have seen you?
– Rachel Mennies

At nineteen, I knew nothing about the inner workings of my own heart, let alone the hearts of others. Still, I thought I had a pretty good grasp of how happiness and sadness worked. What I couldn’t yet grasp were all the myriad phenomenon that lay in the space between happiness and sadness, how they related to each other. As a result, I often felt anxious and helpless.
– Haruki Murakami

It’s not too late to recover. You’re young, you’re tough. You’re adaptable. You can patch up your wounds, lift up your head and move on.
– Haruki Murakami

sky brimming blue
and cloudless
a perfectly good umbrella
lies on the sidewalk
confidently tossed
by someone who looked
up and decided for today
and for forever
they no longer believe
in the rain
– @olicketysplit

In Persian, the difference between ‘mercy’ and ‘difficulty’ is a single dot: ‘rahmat’ (رحمت) versus ‘zahmat’ (زحمت).
– @PersianPoetics

True translation is not a binary affair between two languages but a triangular affair. The third point of the triangle being what lay behind the words of the original text before it was written. True translation demands a return to the pre-verbal. One reads and rereads the words of the original text in order to penetrate through them to reach, to touch, the vision or experience that prompted them. One then gathers up what one has found there and takes this quivering almost wordless “thing” and places it behind the language it needs to be translated into. And now the principal task is to persuade the host language to take in and welcome the “thing” that is waiting to be articulated.
– John Berger

Somehow, we need to create a new “habit of mind,” as individuals and as a society. We need a mental attitude that values and protects stillness, privacy, solitude, slowness, personal reflection; that honors the inner life; that allows each of us to wander about without schedule within our own minds.
– Alan Lightman

Stanley Kunitz, poem on Roethke
There was a big blond uncle-bear,
wounded, smoke-eyed, wild,
who shambled from the west
with his bags full of havoc.
He spoke the bears’ grunt-language,
waving his paws
and rocking on his legs.
Both of us were drunk,
slapping each other on the back,
sweaty with genius.
He spouted his nonsense-rhymes,
roaring like a behemoth.
You crawled under the sofa.

A patchwork of unfinished phrasings,
Fragmented feelings and forgotten meanings.
The frustration and fatigue of this moonlight poetry.
– J. K. McDowell

Everything is an elegy these days, all chipped rings, / clipped wings.
– @stumpyduong

Ground doesn’t mind spit
Soup is one of the oldest words
Loves comes sideways
Thoughts don’t have to align
– George Gorman

We can mourn what’s lost AND cherish what’s left. We can absolutely do both. We don’t really have a choice.
– Mary Annaïse Heglar

Feeling you outside my window
seeing just a glimpse of you entering
l follow
into the sublime
– Wendy Robertson Fyfe

I’m like a traveller who suddenly finds himself in a strange town, without knowing how he got there, which makes me think of those who lose their memory and for a long time are not themselves but someone else.
– Fernando Pessoa

There’s an English idiom, ‘Stop and think.’ Nobody can think unless he stops.
– Hannah Arendt

in a jerusalem day you hear prayers all the time. in almost every language and religious confessions. people walk past each other with their minds immersed on many beliefs and their hearts surrendered on him in whom they belief. but i seek the small gestures: like the smiles, the signs of delight at the smells, the little kids weaving dangerously with broken bikes, or the couples hiding behind a narrow alley to look at each other and just touch, thinking no one can see them! these gestures alone are proof of holiness in the heart and in the deeds. perhaps holiness is a word we use to distract our hearts and deeds from the search for the poetry of true encounter. but if you ever feel the night breezes on your skin, perhaps you would see what i see and hear what i hear and allow yourself to just be. to encounter is to be.
– hune margulies

Without writing, the literate mind would not and could not think as it does, not only when engaged in writing but normally even when it is composing its thoughts in oral form. More than any other single invention writing has transformed human consciousness.
– Walter J. Ong

Hey, you know what’s scarier than 114 heat and 20 mph winds when you live in the west?
– @Liz_Prato

Purged of all impurities of attachment, aversion and confusion, the Buddha is worthy of oblations, offerings, respect and homage.
– @_Buddha_Quotes

A reminder that these heat waves aren’t tragedies, they’re crimes.

The fossil fuel industry knew decades ago that this is what their pollution was causing, so they spent billions to lie to the public and block climate action.
– @jamieclimate

Just a reminder that not only are we all suffering from the west coast heat wave, migrating salmon cannot survive in raised water temperatures.

We’ve fucked up real bad, is what I’m saying.
– @Fox_E_Lori

All finite things reveal infinitude:
The mountain with its singular bright shade
Like the blue shine on freshly frozen snow,
The after-light upon ice-burdened pines;
Odor of basswood on a mountain-slope,
A scent beloved of bees;
Silence of water above a sunken tree:
The pure serene of memory in one man, —
A ripple widening from a single stone
Winding around the waters of the world.

I will not die an unlived life
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,

to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
– Dawna Markova

by Czeslaw Milosz

So lasting they are, the rivers!” Only think. Sources somewhere in the mountains pulsate and springs seep from a rock, join in a stream, in the current of a river, and the river flows through centuries, millennia. Tribes, nations pass, and the river is still there, and yet it is not, for water does not stay the same, only the place and the name persist, as a metaphor for a permanent form and changing matter. The same rivers flowed in Europe when none of today’s countries existed and no languages known to us were spoken. It is in the names of rivers that traces of lost tribes survive. They lived, though, so long ago that nothing is certain and scholars make guesses which to other scholars seem unfounded. It is not even known how many of these names come from before the Indo-European invasion, which is estimated to have taken place two thousand to three thousand years B. C. Our civilization poisoned river waters, and their contamination acquires a powerful emotional meaning. As the course of a river is a symbol of time, we are inclined to think of a poisoned time. And yet the sources continue to gush and we believe time will be purified one day. I am a worshipper of flowing and would like to entrust my sins to the waters, let them be carried to the sea.
– Translated by Robert Hass

The more I learn of physics, the more I am drawn to metaphysics.
– Einstein

bide in non-abiding — don’t land anywhere.
– Adyashanti

Go ahead: say what you’re thinking. The garden
is not the real world. Machines
are the real world. Say frankly what any fool
could read in your face: it makes sense
to avoid us, to resist
nostalgia. It is
not modern enough, the sound the wind makes
stirring a meadow of daisies: the mind
cannot shine following it. And the mind
wants to shine, plainly, as
machines shine, and not
grow deep, as, for example, roots. It is very touching,
all the same, to see you cautiously
approaching the meadow’s border in early morning,
when no one could possibly
be watching you. The longer you stand at the edge,
the more nervous you seem. No one wants to hear
impressions of the natural world: you will be
laughed at again; scorn will be piled on you.
As for what you’re actually
hearing this morning: think twice
before you tell anyone what was said in this field
and by whom.
– Louise Glück

Watching the first sunlight
touch the tops of the palms
what could I ask […]

I dream I am here
in the morning
and the dream is its own time […]

There I am
morning clouds
in the east wind

No one is in the garden
the autumn daisies
have the day to themselves […]

I needed my mistakes
in their own order
to get me here […]

I call that singing bird my friend
though I know nothing else about him
and he does not know I exist […]

In my youth I believed in somewhere else
I put faith in travel
now I am becoming my own tree.

– W.S. Merwin, Wild Oats

Hold me
to you and I’ll inherit the aching. We never can
tangle ourselves in a way that won’t be


– Sarah Brockhaus

Our lives disconnect and reconnect, we move on, and later we may again touch one another, again bounce away. This is the felt shape of a human life, neither simply linear nor wholly disjunctive nor endlessly bifurcating, but rather this […] sequence of bumpings-into and tumblings-apart.
– Salman Rushdie

Whenever someone who knows you disappears, you lose one version of yourself. Yourself as you were seen, as you were judged to be. […] those who know us construct us, and their several knowings slant the different facets of our characters like diamond-cutter’s tools. Each such loss is a step leading to the grave, where all versions blend and end.
– Salman Rushdie

The common idea that I am an atheist is based on a big mistake. Anyone who interprets my scientific theories this way, did not understand them.

The sacred radiance of our original nature never darkens.
It has shined forth since beginningless time.
Do you wish to enter the gate that leads to this?
Simply do not give rise to conceptual thinking.
– Zen Master So Sahn

I advise my companions on the Way: establish an enduring commitment and maintain a steady mind; remove errant thoughts and give prominence to the undertaking of Nature and Existence; inquire into the principles of creation and transformation with an unwavering mind. Advance by removing one layer after the other: when you remove one layer, continue to the next one until you finally reach the inner core of all things. Then you will be able to see that all the dust of this world is a precious jewel.
Rambling at will, you will go anywhere you like, and everywhere will be the truth. Entirely awakened and entirely realized, you will move without obstructions.
Why should you fear that you will not fulfill your Nature and your Existence?
– Liu Yiming, Cultivating the Tao

Yet falling in love is not the same as being able to love.
– Czeslaw Milosz

It’s hard for me to know that you’re really enjoying the moment, that you’re really happy, if I don’t hear that you know that it’s temporary.
– Fusilier

In the beginning nothing comes, in the middle nothing stays, in the end nothing goes.
– Milarepa

We are allowing a handful of corporations to boil us alive so they can have more money to spend in an economy that will not exist.
– Anat Shenker-Osorio

Our country and our government needs to develop the moral courage to admit mistakes, when they have been made. Instead, we are witnessing the rise of an ugly spirit threatening the right of free expression and freedom to dissent.
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Sometimes I imagine history and science and memory are puppets, and I’m pushing them onto the stage of inquiry and asking them to have a conversation—to share their knowledge, to argue with each other… what explosions are uniquely possible in combination?
– Leslie Jamison

One needn’t fly to the stars to study the Universe.
– James Scott Smith

Light’s colors fold into arias
What color is spirit?
What color am I?

Feel the sounds colors give
Flow you in blue
Lie you in green
Bathe you in gold
Robe you in red
Champagne you in white
Sleep you in black
Grow you in violet

Touch the sound of color
Water the blue flow
Springtime the green
Summer suns golden
Autumn wears red robes
Winter snows white
Night tenders black
Goodness, soft violet

Hear the sounds light makes
Cascades in the waterfalls
Throbs in the surf
Thrills patterns through trees
Sighs in the marshes
Soars geometry in mountains
Measured, tread animals
Inspired, the winged
Dulcet nod wildflowers
Pulsing the wheat

Using our own hands
Creating’s the beat

– Bobbie Gorman

Fear and Loathing (Comin’ and Goin’)
I come to party, I show up alone,
I feel the beat on my feet, and I’m soloing.
I sing sunshine hits in the club.
Sunshine hits baby. That’s just how I live, lawd—

And Lord was like—
I fled the scene,
done all I possibly could. The way it works is,
sunshine hits something and so, there issomething.
Gradually, you become unlike that something

You used to hold. I had held a cassette tape
in my hands, had held
a church in my hands,
had held it with heavy hands, had felt love

Like adrenaline, to which no one in the church spoke.
I had heard music emanating
from a cassette player, had heard it in church,
had looked into the pastor’s eyes, had held her eyes

In my hands, had felt her love like a fee.
Evil eyes,
everyone knows
what your poems are about. Whatever it is
got me laughing.

– Anaïs Duplan

Happiness is the art of being broken
With least sound. The old, whom circumstance
Has ground smooth as green bottle-glass
On the sea’s furious grindstone, very often
Practice it to perfection. (For them, death
Is the one definitive shrug
In an infinite series, all prior gestures
Take relevance from this, as much express
Sorrow for stiff canary or cold son.)

Always the first fragmentation
Stirs us to fear…Beyond that point
We learn where we belong, in what uncaring
Complex depths we roll, lashed by light,
Tumbling in anemone-dazzled fathoms
Seek innocence in surrender,
Senility an ironic act of charity
Easing the agony of disparateness until
That day when, all identity lost, we serve
As curious for children roaming beaches,
Makeshift monocles through which they view
The same green transitory world we also knew.
– Bruce Dawe

Followers of the Way, you take words that come out of the mouths of old teachers and think this must be the Way. Blind idiots! You go through life betraying your own two eyes!
– Lin-chi

Fundamentally, preserving art as a space for exploration, transgression, and new ways of thinking is more important than making sure no one is offended or might misread something… especially (I think) for marginalized groups.
– Lincoln Michel

One practice that I especially like is taking mental snapshots. You can begin by closing your eyes. Then turn your head in any direction—up, down, sideways. It doesn’t matter which way. The idea is that you’re not exactly sure what you’ll see when you open your eyes.

Then, abruptly open your eyes and see what’s in front of you. Almost immediately, you will revert to labeling everything, but try to observe that moment before the labeling happens. In a relaxed and open way, try to take a mental snapshot of that instant, which is empty of imputed meaning.

– Pema Chodron

Thoughts rise to the surface which reach back into the centuries. At times I feel as if I’m spread out over the landscape and inside things, and I myself am living in every tree, in the clouds and the procession of the seasons ..
– Carl Jung

Depths and surfaces should mix .. so that new life can develop. New life does not develop outside us, but within us.
– Carl Jung

Like the human heart, societies and economies, too, are subject to premature beats, local tachycardias, fibrillations and flutters … chaotic irregularities, and paroxysms.
– Alvin Toffler

Our wounds need nurturing care in order to heal. If we are to nurture and heal, we must admit that the wounds exist.
– Iyanla Vanzant

What, then, would be the meaning of human life?
There is none for me. I endure life by creating order in a small sphere. Order is not the right term – by creating coherence with my artistic work.
– Anselm Kiefer

The body is a haunted terrain—a living record of personal, familial, social, and epigenetic memory. To look at my father’s body now—the way he shuffles when he walks, the atrophy in his once-nimble fingers, the nerve pain in his feet, the cloudiness in his eyes as he loses his sight—it too is a record of a forgotten life, and of the systems that failed it. I carry the memory of him in his splendor and his decline. And what I carry of him is also connected to the land, its seam connecting memory, legacy into the future. Memory itself is a kind of map, linked to textures, smells, songs, places, the act of remembering in and of itself a kind of haunting. Music is one of the few portals I have into my fragmented memory, and writing the only way I know to recover my people from the nothing of forgetting, to resist the erasure of the border and its constant overwriting of history, to salvage what is disappearing.
– Vanessa Angélica Villarreal

Dear Day,
by Catherine Pierce

Lately I am more aware of how easily
you might lope carelessly off into a fog
of never and gray, and so when you come

in the morning with your pincers on,
when you wake me with your snorts
and hacks, when you lie down next to me

with your scales poking all my soft places,
I hold you to me. The bruises will heal,
and it isn’t your fault you’re so spiny.

Day, you lower your monstrous head
and let me pat it. You are gleaming
and everything. You are genus unknown,

phylum unnamed. You glint and lumber,
you drool and growl. Soon, maybe,
you’ll let me climb on your back. Soon,

maybe, we’ll bullet together into forests
and glades and gladness. So stay. Walk
beside me with your armor on, breathe

flames at the beasts that bite. If I get singed,
it’s okay. I’d pay levy upon levy
for your glittering shadow beside me.

I wish I could buy everyone’s books and everyone’s art. I’m sorry that I can only do a few. I do what I can. But I respect the hell out of all of you.
– Leah Callen

Every time Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car comes up on my playlist, I’m like “awww shit, man, buckle up…” as she then performs an oral recitation of one of the best American short stories from the last 30 years and I know I’ll be reduced to sobs in less than 4 minutes…
– E.A. Newman, Writer

How evil do you have to be to be a fossil fuel executive in 2021? After all this?

There is zero social license remaining for this planet-wrecking technology. None. We don’t need them. And even worse, they are a clear and present threat to our survival.

– Eric Holthaus

Our Happiness
by Eileen Myles

was when the
lights were

the whole city
in darkness

& we drove north
to our friend’s
yellow apt.
where she had
power & we
could work

later we stayed
in the darkened
apt. you sick
in bed & me
writing ambitiously
by candle light
in thin blue

your neighbor had
a generator &
after a while
we had a little
bit of light

I walked the
dog & you
were still
a little bit

we sat on a stoop
one day in the
late afternoon
we had very little
money. enough for
a strong cappuccino
which we shared
sitting there &
suddenly the
city was lit.

Suffering is what happens when you stop creating.
– Brianna Wiest

‘For a while’ is a phrase whose length can’t be measured. At least by the person who’s waiting.
– Haruki Murakami

The woods were made for the hunter of dreams…
– S.W. Foss

Seeing the Sky
Seeing the sky is one analogy used for the practice of a sudden glimpse of nowness. Another analogy is looking at one’s own eyes without using a mirror. This practice is not like meditation at all. It is non-meditation, because in looking at one’s own eyes without a mirror there is nothing to see and no one to look. One just makes the gesture of looking. Looking at space or looking at the sky is the same thing: one cannot see anything in space. One just make the gesture of focusing one’s eyes on space.
– Chögyam Trungpa

An empty stomach, an empty wallet, and a broken heart can teach you some of the best lessons in life.
– Robin Williams

The spirit which I think I can discern is loaded with the spoils of matter. I now see all the grandeur, all the physical and historical attributes with which science has been loading matter for the last hundred and fifty years–I see all these transferred to one characteristic stuff which includes all things. Entropy has been replaced for me by ‘the highest consciousness’ as the essential physical function of the universe. The world seems to me to ‘tumble’, if I can so put it, forward and upward upon the spiritual ; and this inversion of cosmogony has the consequence of giving a cosmic consistency to the centres of consciousness–to the monads : this personal treasure, the centre within every soul, is imperishable, and the supreme Centre must be both lovable and loving.
– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Letters from a Traveller

…to learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.
– Stephen Covey

Nobody gets me but the riverwash
– Nicholas Pierotti

Two Gardens
You have two gardens,
your own garden and that of your beloved.
First you have to take care of your own garden and master the art of gardening.
In each one of us there are flowers
and garbage. The garbage is the anger, fear, discrimination, and jealousy within us.
If you water the garbage,
you will strengthen the negative seeds.
If you water the flowers of compassion, understanding, and love,
you will strengthen the positive seeds.
What you grow is up to you.
If you don’t know how to practice
selective watering in your own garden,
then you won’t have enough wisdom
to help water the flowers
in the garden of your beloved.
In cultivating your own garden well,
you also help to cultivate her garden.
Even a week of practice
can make a big difference. You can do it.
Every time you practice walking mindfully, investing your mind and body in every step,
you are taking your situation in hand.
Every time you breathe in
and know you are breathing,
every time you breathe out and smile
to your out-breath, you are yourself,
you are your own master,
and you are the gardener of your own garden. We are relying on you to take good care
of your garden, so that you can help
your beloved take care of hers.
If you have a difficult relationship,
and you want to make peace
with the other person,
you have to go home to yourself.
Go home to your garden
and cultivate the flowers of peace, compassion, understanding and joy.
Only after that
can you come to your partner
and be patient and compassionate.
– Thich Nhat Hanh, Fidelity

In a philosopher’s garden:
Our gardens are symbols of home rather than seduction. Young people with fire in their blood are seldom found in them. The garden is the scene of middle age, of the slow passage from sexual excitement to domestic routine.
– Roger Scruton

Academia treats Indigenous knowledge and language like something to steal a piece of before we inevitably go extinct. This relationship isn’t reciprocal, it’s not respectful.
– @chapwelilthings

It has taken me all these years to make the simplest discovery: that I am surrounded by two classes of maniacs. The first are the believers, who think they know the reason why we find ourselves in this ludicrous predicament yet act for all the world as if they don’t. The second are the unbelievers, who don’t know the reason and don’t care if they don’t.
– Walker Percy

[…A]n entry in my journal about the appetite of silence. Is silence a form of hunger, I wrote, and then answered my own question: yes and no. Reading this now, I am disappointed in the wishy-washy quality of my thinking, I would like to go back and erase that answer. Yes, I would write, silence is a hunger for the anatomy of a moment, for the inside of things.
– Bob Hicok

From Tanka Diary
by Harryette Mullen

The botanical garden is just as I remember,
although it is certain that everything
has changed since my last visit.

How many hilarious questions these fuzzy
fiddleheads are inquiring of spring
will be answered as green ferns unfurl?

Walking the path, I stop to pick up
bleached bark from a tree, curled into
a scroll of ancient wisdom I am unable to read.

Even in my dreams I’m hiking
these mountain trails expecting to find a rock
that nature has shaped to remind me of a heart.

I watch how desperately we need political memory, so that we are not always imagining ourselves the ever-inventors of our revolution.
– Cherríe Moraga

Fishing on the Susquehanna in July
by Billy Collins

I have never been fishing on the Susquehanna
or on any river for that matter
to be perfectly honest.

Not in July or any month
have I had the pleasure—if it is a pleasure—
of fishing on the Susquehanna.

I am more likely to be found
in a quiet room like this one—
a painting of a woman on the wall,

a bowl of tangerines on the table—
trying to manufacture the sensation
of fishing on the Susquehanna.

There is little doubt
that others have been fishing
on the Susquehanna,

rowing upstream in a wooden boat,
sliding the oars under the water
then raising them to drip in the light.

But the nearest I have ever come to
fishing on the Susquehanna
was one afternoon in a museum in Philadelphia

when I balanced a little egg of time
in front of a painting
in which that river curled around a bend

under a blue cloud-ruffled sky,
dense trees along the banks,
and a fellow with a red bandanna

sitting in a small, green
flat-bottom boat
holding the thin whip of a pole.

That is something I am unlikely
ever to do, I remember
saying to myself and the person next to me.

Then I blinked and moved on
to other American scenes
of haystacks, water whitening over rocks,

even one of a brown hare
who seemed so wired with alertness
I imagined him springing right out of the frame.

The life of our community was simple
and sane, and I threw myself into it
with all my love and energy.
I did this with all the skill of a very strongly formed and defended personality.
Deep prayer and meditation experiences sustained me for a long time.
After some years I felt I could trust
the community, so I rested for a breather. Around this time, one of the older sisters died.
I had been close to her, and it triggered
a succession of memories:
the death of my twin brother at our birth,
the near-death of my mother,
the distance, hatred, and loss of my father.
I realized how split off my life had been because of my sorrow.
I saw that even in the monastic community
I had lived on the surface,
had been running from the grief
and emptiness. I finally stopped.
That realization started years of healing work to find the place where the grief,
the monastery, the pain of my own life,
and the pain of the world could be held
in the same sacred heart.”
“When I came back it was as if
my 12 years of experiences in India and Tibet were a dream. The memory and value
of those transcendental experiences
was in some way a dream
challenged by the culture shock
of returning to my family
and to work in the West.
Old patterns came back surprisingly quickly.
I got irritable, confused.
I wasn’t taking care of my body,
I worried about money, about relationship.
At the worst point I feared
that I was losing what I had learned.
Then I realized I couldn’t live
in some enlightened memory.
What became clear is that spiritual practice
is only what you’re doing now.
Anything else is a fantasy.”
‘A clearly enlightened person falls in the well. How is this so? After any powerful spiritual experience, there is an inevitable descent,
a struggle to embody what we have seen.’
The well we fall into can be created
by clinging to our experience
and spiritual ideals or by holding inflated ideas about our teachers, our path, or our self.
The well can be the unfinished business
of our psychological and emotional life —
an unwillingness to acknowledge
our own shadow, to include the human needs, the pain, and the darkness that we carry,
to see that we always have one foot
in the dark. As bright as it is,
the universe also needs us to open
to its other side.
– Jack Kornfield

We are required, I think, to be polite and considerate of others: This is a sort of social compact we have with each other–and very few people honor it, I might add. I’ll stay out of your way, smiling all the time, and you stay out of mine. If I stumble or my tire goes flat or I appear to be short of funds or food, I’ll happily drop by and help out. But, for the most part, you stay over there and I’ll stay over here. You’ll learn as you live a bit longer that there are very few people who are really interested in who you are and what you’re doing: That handful who do care and who do want to see you do well are treasures. Hold them very dear and very close to you. Forgive them almost anything. Be there for them. But most of life is solitary and hard–you work and you study and you fail and you do the damned things over and over again. And this is your responsibility. Most people, as I’ve said, are stupid and lazy and really only concerned with getting through the next couple of hours with silliness and stimulation and something to eat. Be polite. Look ahead. Ignore them. Do the work. Move forward.
– Katharine Hepburn/Interview with James Grissom

The most profitable consumer is an addict, much like the most profitable business is a monopoly.
– Jacob Wren

I am interested in why people stay attached to lives that don’t work, as though people would not survive the wholesale transformation of those attachments…as though they would rather be miserable, stuck, or numb than tipped over in the middle of invention.
– Lauren Berlant

The eyes understand wordlessly — for words conceal more than they reveal.
— Lawrence Durrell

Still Waiting
by Harryette Mullen

for Alison Saar

Please approach with care these figures in black.
Regard with care the weight they bear,
the scars that mark their hearts.
Do you think you can handle these bodies of graphite & coal dust?
This color might rub off. A drop of this red liquid
could stain your skin.
This black powder could blow you sky high.
No ordinary pigments blacken our blues.
Would you mop the floor with this bucket of blood?
Would you rinse your soiled laundry in this basin of tears?
Would you suckle hot milk from this cracked vessel?
Would you be baptized in this fountain of funky sweat?
Please approach with care
these bodies still waiting to be touched.
We invite you to come closer.
We permit you to touch & be touched.
We hope you will engage with care.

What works the best for me, without fail, is to create a very scary mind map of what I definitely do not want to mention, and then methodically address each one of those boulders.
– Jacqueline Jones LaMon

The origins of poetry are clearly rooted in obscurity, in secretiveness, in incantation, in spells that must at once invoke and protect, tell the secret and keep it.
– Mary Ruefle

What Jung espouses is not the abdication of the ego but the participation of the ego in conversation with the unconscious. The ego is under no obligation to accept, without demur, the alternative perspectives that the unconscious presents.
– Michael Vannoy Adams

Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.
– Dr. Alexis Carrel

We expect God to speak in words, while in reality God mostly speaks in wordless signs, silences, circumstances, movements, synchronicities, geometry, tensions, passages of time, meetings, failures, victories.
– @mikael_jibril

Trying to keep a fast moving river the same
is a fool’s game.
It is continuously flowing,
carving banks, shifting bottom-side,
smoothing stones.
When I ponder this aging process
I too am a flowing river
with subtle changes too small
for the outside observer to see
except for the graying hair
and wrinkly skin.
This body riddled with discomfort
can no longer free spar safely and
rolling too triggers vertigo and balance issues
I prefer to avoid.
Now kata and katana focused
I enjoy the journey and flow of carving
new banks, polishing new stones…
and yet
even this will change
as time marches on
but no worries
no frets —
I have tributaries.
– Shinzen

As far as I’m concerned, there is only one study and that is the way in which things relate to one another.
– Wayne Thiebaud

As you’re recovering
from the old, dying god
we’ve inherited
from our forefathers
that hasn’t served you,
as we all are,

and the boss of your heart
has finally gained the courage
to be open to hire
a more loving candidate
for Lord of The Universe—
this time around
it’s time to get
some standards:

This time, make sure God
feel like a close sister
holding you on your worst days.

Insist that God be big enough
for the full range of your collapse

Tell this God
She must be available
to buoy your joy

You’re tired of being shamed
and gaslit
by the Creator,
creating us imperfect
and then blaming us for it

Tell Her you’ve long deserved something better

You want Her to be as attentive
as each breath,
you want Her to be your watering hole,
a place where your soul
can reliably drink

No more hiding your heart
and tiptoeing
around some myth
of Her wrath

Let it be known
you’re no longer afraid
to hurt God’s feelings
with your truth,
and quite frankly
the fragile/abusive old god paradigm
could stand to grow
in resilience

Announce that you’re tired
of being a martyr
and ready to pull life close
to tell it exactly what you want

It’s time to set some boundaries:
Tell Her you’re not looking for a rebound
and if She doesn’t have the qualifications
you’re looking for
you’ll settle for celestial anarchy
until you until you find
the right fit.

– Chelan Harkin

The thousand-tongued delirium of the human heart
Entices me again into the liquid room
Of generation where imaginative souls conspire

We have believed in everything from dawn to doom,
In all things dreaming, lounging, crooning ancient tunes
For what clandestine reasons there are always these:

A breaking wave that will not stay on any shore
A silver fire that feeds the inveterate will to life
A hungry heart that will not suck for platitudes

Time is the way we dream and space is the way we love
The farthest stars are the pennies we tossed in a wishing well
You and I are the way all tales begin and end
We have to remind ourselves again and again of the truth

Take my hand. We are always going far away.
Take my heart. We are all confederates in this storm.

– George Gorman

May your
great ambition be
to alchemize
any ordinary moment
into pure gold
by saturating it
with your joy.
– Chelan Harkin

Waking in the Middle of the Night
by Robert Bly

I want to be true to what I have heard. It was
Sweet to hear music last night. There is so
Much joy in being afraid of the world together.

The snow in the branches, the sadness in your hands,
The foot tracks in the mud, the old Inca faces,
The trout who wait all year for the acorns to descend.

The sitar player is so much like the crow, who rises
Each morning in the sky above the black branches
And cries six cries with no memory of the light.

Every musician wants his fingers to play faster
So that he can go deeper into the kingdom of pain.
Each note on the string calls for one note more.

The hand that has written all these sounds down
Is like a bird who wakes in the middle of the night
And starts out toward its old nest on the mountain.

Robert, I don’t know why you would have such
Good luck these days. Those few lines about the crows
Crying are better than a whole night of sleep.

The love unit most damaged by the Industrial revolution has been the father-son bond.
– Robert Bly

That which you most need will be found where you least want to look.
– Carl Jung

If desires are not uprooted, sorrows grow again in you.
– Buddha

We can sit in our corners mute forever while our sisters and ourselves are wasted, while our children are distorted and destroyed, while our earth is poisoned; we can sit in our safe corners mute as bottles, and we will still be no less afraid.
– Audre Lorde

If you’ve made mistakes in the past but have now learned not to repeat them, you brighten the world like a moon when released from a cloud.
– Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Why Shame Gets a Bad Rap

At every level within a self-organizing system, the common self-regulatory task is to mediate the optimal balance between internal and external realms—between “self” and the “not-self” environment, in order to maintain flexible boundaries (in both time and space) in the face of ongoing change….these functional “self-regulatory” services are all provided by emotional qualia.
– Katherine Peil Kaufmann

This is the age of personal revolutions and that’s when people and things change.
– Cat Stevens

We learn something every day, and lots of times it’s that what we learned the day before was wrong.
– Bill Vaughn

As you know, there was a famous quarrel between Max Planck and Einstein, in which Einstein claimed that, on paper, the human mind was capable of inventing mathematical models of reality. In this he generalized his own experience because that is what he did. Einstein conceived his theories more or less completely on paper, and experimental developments in physics proved that his models explained phenomena very well. So Einstein says that the fact that a model constructed by the human mind in an introverted situation fits with outer facts is just a miracle and must be taken as such. Planck does not agree, but thinks that we conceive a model which we check by experiment, after which we revise our model, so that there is a kind of dialectic friction between experiment and model by which we slowly arrive at an explanatory fact compounded of the two. Plato-Aristotle in a new form! But both have forgotten something- the unconscious. We know something more than those two men, namely that when Einstein makes a new model of reality he is helped by his unconscious, without which he would not have arrived at his theories…But what role DOES the unconscious play?…either the unconscious knows about other realities, or what we call the unconscious is a part of the same thing as outer reality, for we do not know how the unconscious is linked with matter.
– Marie-Louise von Franz

Always be adaptable.

What got you to where you are now might not necessarily get you to where you want to go.

– @TheMentalBreak

He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald

True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen.
– Francois de La Rochefoucauld

We don’t think upon a low level.
We think high.
– Bob Marley

The root cause that makes us wander in samsara is the chaining of our thoughts, and it is said that discursive thought is the ‘great ignorance’, that makes us fall into the ocean of samsara. Unless we do something about it, this chaining of thoughts will go on and on forever. So it is very important to employ the correct remedy, and here the main remedy is to cultivate the state free from wandering thoughts.
– Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

i wish poems could just end on cliffhangers like a tv episode. like it’s just “oooh how will the speaker get out of this pickle??? tune in next poem to find out!!!
– Chen Chen

A Very Strange and Solemn Feeling Came Over Me as I Stood There
With No Sound but the Rustle of the Pines, No One Near Me
And the Sun So Glorious, as for Me Alone
It Seemed as If I Felt God as I Never Did Before
And I Prayed in My Heart That I Might Keep
This Happy Sense of Nearness All My Life
– Louisa May Alcott

but what is poetry anyway?
More than one rickety answer
has tumbled since that question was first raised.
But I just keep on not knowing, and I cling to that
like a redemptive handrail.
– Wisława Szymborska

have you lived with utmost care?—
have you articulated emotions like the edges of leaves?—
– Arthur Sze, Transpirations

Society is so afraid of desire that it was transformed into consumption.
– Nikki Wallschlaeger

A kiss is a lovely trick to stop speech.
– Ingrid Bergman

Today, as never before, the fates of men are so intimately linked to one another that a disaster for one is a disaster for everybody.
– Natalia Ginzburg

Your goal in life is to find out the people who need you the most, to find out the business that needs you the most, to find the project and the art that needs you the most. There is something out there just for you.
– Naval Ravikant

The heart, like the stomach, wants a varied diet.
– Gustave Flaubert

There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun.
– Pablo Picasso

A writer never takes a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.
– Eugène Ionesco

A Brave Insouciance

When a flock of birds articulates
Its wild wing-beating dance
In unison without misstep
That’s more than plan or a chance

“Design or pure happenstance?”
Is missing the point
Something comes from neither one
Whenever a choice is made

Such brave insouciance
Thrives in wild dealings
Which won’t hew to human aims
Except through feeling-speech

As when a dolphin heeds the cry
Of a desperately drowning man
Every life is hobbled
By its own particular virtues

A coconut tree
Doesn’t mind standing still
As it transforms sun
And rain into life

A mole may not see much
But he can still dig it
A dolphin walks not at all
As she swims a blue streak

Through life’s many specialized
Devil-may-care decisions
Are the greatest conversations
And ecosystems made
– George Gorman

Normal consciousness is a state of stupor, in which sensibility to the wholly real and responsiveness to the stimuli of the spirit are reduced. The mystics, knowing that [humans are] involved in a hidden history of the cosmos, endeavor to awaken from the drowsiness and apathy and to regain the state of wakefulness for their enchanted souls.
– Rabbi Abraham Heschel

Each day before our surroundings
become flat with familiarity
and the shapes of our lives click into place,
dimensionless and average as Tetris cubes,

before hunger knocks from our bellies
like a cantankerous old man
and the duties of the day stack up like dishes
and the architecture of our basic needs
commissions all thought
to construct the 4-door sedan of safety,

before gravity clings to our skin
like a cumbersome parasite
and the colored dust of dreams
sweeps itself obscure in the vacuum of reason,

each morning before we wrestle the world
and our hearts into the shape of our brains,
look around and say, “Wow!”
Feed yourself fire.
Scoop up the day entire
like a planet-sized bouquet of marvel
sent by the Universe directly into your arms
and say, “Wow!”

Break yourself down
into the basic components of primitive awe
and let the crescendo of each moment
carbonate every capillary
and say, “Wow!”

Yes, before our poems become calloused
with revision
let them shriek off the page of spontaneity

and before our metaphors get too regular,
let the sun stay
a conflagration of homing pigeons
that fights through fire
each day to find us.
– Chelan Harkin

Ultimately, cynicism is the great mask of the disappointed and betrayed heart.
– bell hooks

Every story is a palimpsest, composed of layers of tellings and retellings, and every time we think we are parroting a well-known anecdote the words shed their feathers and sprout new ones for the occasion.
– Alberto Manguel, Packing My Library

Please don’t hurt others…
Please try to work with people and be helpful to them.
A fantastically large number of people need help.
Please try to help them, for goodness sake, for heaven and earth.
Don’t just collect Oriental wisdoms one after the other.
Don’t just sit on an empty zafu, an empty meditation cushion.
But go out and try to help others, if you can.
That is the main point…
Your help doesn’t have to be a big deal.
To begin with, just work with your friends and work with yourself at the same time.
It is about time we became responsible for this world.

Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.
– Albert Szent-Georgi

Maybe happiness is this: not feeling like you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else.
– Isaac Asimov

I tell you, sir, it’s the end of the world. Never have we known such behavior from the students. It’s all those accursed new inventions that are ruining everything. Artillery, serpentines, bombards, and especially printing, that other plague from Germany. No more manuscripts! No more books! Printing is killing the bookshop. The end of the world is at hand.
– Victor Hugo

Thought becomes inspired when it resembles the world and evokes the mystery without which there would be no thought and no possibility of a world. Inspired thought is always possible—if not present—whatever happiness and unhappiness may be in attendance.
– René Magritte

To believe that your mind is in need of change – and is changeable – through following a spiritual friend and applying the teachings for transformation—how many people do we know that really believe that? Those who have that inspiration are very, very rare. Like stars in the daytime, as it is said. However, to not undertake the path is to miss the point of life.
– Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

In the soul-spiritual world from whence we come, to which we return at death – and which, in an importnat sense, we never leave – communication with other beings takes the form of wordless soul resonance. Its medium is not audible sound tones but soundless tones of feeling – soul tones. We ride and ‘read’ our felt resonance with other beings, as we might ride out resonance with a piece of music and ‘read’ the wordless meanings it conveys. In this world, music is a universal language, In that world, feeling tones are the meium of musical resonance linking one soul with another. They do not simply travel through us like surface emotions that rise and fall, come and go. Instead we travel through them, transported as by music into those qualitative dimensions of our own soul that constitute our resonant link with other souls and the world of soul. Behind the visual world of our dreams themselves is a tonal world. And if dreams are a type of stage on which we allow ourselves to personify and dramatise our life of soul, then beneath this stage is an inner orchestra. The music it plays – the music of feeling tone – is what then finds expression in the nightly dramas of our dreams.
– Peter Wilberg, Head, Heart and Hara

Please do not understand me too quickly.
– André Gide

The soul becomes dyed by the color of its thoughts.
– Marcus Aurelius

It’s the music that counts.
– Stevie Ray

At last I can be with you!
The grinding hours
since I left your side!
The labor of being fully human,
working my opposable thumb,
talking, and walking upright.
Now I have unclasped
unzipped, stepped out of.
Husked, soft, a be-er only,
I do nothing, but point
my bare feet into your
clean smoothness
feel your quiet strength
the whole length of my body.
I close my eyes, hear myself
moan, so grateful to be held this way.
– Meredith Holmes

The universe is full of radiant suggestion.
– Mary Oliver

…if we are really to understand the nature of knowledge, then we are going to have to delve much deeper into the nature of all living things…and realize that knowing is living and surviving.
– Henry Plotkin, Darwin Machines and the Nature of Knowledge

maybe it was your great, great grandfather who stood in his stirrups while riding cobbled streets to catch a final glimpse of the british clippers as they tucked tail and ran back to england.

another nation is born, this time an odd duck who’s identity is an infantile mish mash of nationalities
with potential for eagle wings more heartachingly beautiful than the holding hands chorus of We Are the World… an unsung ideal gestates sung by a statue that’s nowadays all crumbing:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
“Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

but ideals are for fools and cowards and worse, hopefuls.
here and there these days come moments of unabashed giving, loving and ‘here i AM!’ living that i see in the fiery eyes of a 9 year old dancing her ass off, the wet soft gaze of a dying, but newly born great grandmother meeting an infant who’s yet to even open her eyes fully.

this independence day a kind of sovereignty recalls itself in me and a fierce pride is here that i can’t place anywhere…
a native kid finds his spot in the wilds after a week or so into a vision quest, but the spot also finds him, see?
there is only life
there is only life

there is only this inclusion before the rebirth of a house allowing a dream of walls and skin and names to begin with
but fucking anyhow,
here i AM!!!

happy independence day
to you with the balls to walk this place as you are –
a hello from the touchpoint of sky and ground
fresh as the scream of a cougar or the laugh of some wild kid.

for my part, thanks for being here.
you’re amazing.

– Mateo Geoly

There are so
many different
ways of being tender
with yourself-
Here is one –
the world builds
a fancy little box
for you to fit in.
you look at the box
carefully and say,
no thanks!
you tell them you
are a wild ocean and
the ocean cannot fit
inside a box even if
it is made of gold
or rainbow, it is
still a box.
even if it is put
together by a highly
skilled carpenter,
it is still a box.
you tell them the ocean
can only be contained
by its own eloquence.
tell them you are a falcon
and you caress the sky
with your wings.
tell them the world
itself is a box made of
beliefs and ideas.
– Guthema Roba

People these days use whatever little dharma they know to augment afflictive emotion, and then engender tremendous pride and conceit over it. They teach the Dharma without taming their own minds. But as with a river rock , not even a hair’s tip of benefit penetrates the other people. Even worse, incorrigible people [are attracted] to this dharma that increases conflict. When individuals who could be tamed by the Dharma encounter such incorrigible, their desire for the sacred Dharma is lost. It is not the fault of the Dharma; it is the fault of individuals.

Summer Stars
Bend low again, night of summer stars.
So near you are, sky of summer stars,
So near, a long-arm man can pick off stars,
Pick off what he wants in the sky bowl,
So near you are, summer stars,
So near, strumming, strumming,
So lazy and hum-strumming.
– Carl Sandburg

I came into poetry feeling as though, on some level, these words were not just mine but my grandparents’, their parents’.
– Joy Harjo

they visited / me in a stanza where we could be nearest each other / breathing
– Layli Long Soldier

If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.
– Julian of Norwich

I could never be one of two I could never be two in one as married couples do and can, I am but one all one, one and all one, and so I have never been married to any one.
– Gertrude Stein

We’ve all been repeatedly shaken up
like being in a top-loader washing machine, churning and churning.
This deep trauma lasted nearly 18 months.
And now we are expected to come out of it
and be “normal” again. No way.
We are still churning. How can we emerge gracefully and come out whole?
Being gentle to ourself and recognizing
the extreme trauma we’ve been through
is a start. Give ourself some space to heal. Remembering that all 7 billion people
have suffered similar emotional trauma
helps open our heart again.
Send them whatever healing you and they need. Send it on light-beams
sparkling with 5-colored light.
Do this repeatedly. Emaho!

This life is noble
and we are noble women and men.
At least the potential for nobility is present.
It is our Buddha nature that allows us
to become fully enlightened.
Nobility is equated not with aristocracy,
but something far more valuable.
It is equated with being an Arya.
An Arya directly “sees” emptiness,
without a conceptual intermediary.
So, we are all potential nobility.
While nobility is not yet enlightenment,
it is a very advanced state of being
getting close to enlightenment. Emaho!

– Dr. Barry Kerzin

Posterity — you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.
– John Quincy Adams

Many of us seek diversions—
going to the city, traveling,
seeing films and so forth.
If one recognizes the nature of one’s own mind, then that itself is the real entertainment,
the real display. Simply to rest in Mahamudra, in the nature of mind, one will come
to an understanding of all situations
in samsara and nirvana.
Then it will not be necessary
to go looking for entertainment.

When we practice meditation
in a place where there is no other person,
then we have the conditions for realizing
and stabilizing awareness of mind’s nature. From this perspective we understand
the meaning of Tilopa’s words—
that not seeing is the supreme insight.

If we have this kind of realization
in our practice, then there is no need
to seek any kind of diversion or entertainment.

– Garchen Rinpoche

Only when you are taking others casually and yourself as very important do we cause harm to others. When you are taking others as somewhat secondary to your own needs, wants, and the whimsical self-serving habits of your own old ego, which is a very familiar old mindset, then there’s not really any balance. You have so much love for yourself and very little care for others; you are protective of yourself but not of others; your sensitivity is to how you feel and are doing-are your needs being met or not- but you feel no sensitivity at all for others.

When this is happening, it is like when the ice and the snow are melting up in the mountains and the river is gorging and volume of the water is increasing and there’s a danger of flooding. You know you ought to do something before the river lands at your doorstep. Because it’s very difficult in that moment, in that very short time before the water floods your home, to manage to divert the river.

Similarly, in order to keep our habit of cherishing ourselves above others in check, mind training and a good amount of discipline practice in body, speech and mind are needed long before we reach that critical juncture and might cause others harm.

– Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

As in nature, the soul and the spirit have resources that are astonishing. Like wolves and other creatures, the soul and spirit are able to thrive on very little, and sometimes for a long time on nothing. To me, it is the miracle of miracles that this is so.
– Clarissa Pinkola Estés

People think they live more intensely than animals, than plants, and especially than things. Animals sense that they live more intensely than plants and things. Plants dream that they live more intensely than things. But things last, and this lasting is more alive than anything else.
– Olga Tokarczuk

lotuses in bloom— /
on my cheeks the morning sun /
isn’t yet warm
– Sugita Hisajo

Your “rebellious” behaviors—too much ice cream, an excess of TV, too much caffeine, refusal to exercise, to mediate, to improve—whatever it may be, are often a rebellion to your demands that you be perfect and that you control yourself. Part of us refuses to be treated this way. This advocating for more just treatment, for our wholeness to be related to with more respect is often what is mislabeled as self-sabotage. This “self-sabotage” never happens in vacuum. It is the part of you that speaks up to say, “actually, I’d rather be human and whole than maintain a polished front.” If we are to integrate the controlling and the rebellious fragments into a healthier whole, both sides must listen to the underlying fears and desires that are driving the behaviors. Both sides must weep out how far they’ve been from compassionate understanding of themselves and each other. Both sides must find a way to genuinely embrace.
– Chelan Harkin

My brain is stuck on an 19th century literary sand bank, and most times I am unaware the river is passing me by.
– Richard Toews

Mystery arises when there is communication between different kinds of beings.
– Kenneth Burke, The Western Round Table on Modern Art

What if instead of running a Billionaire Boy’s Club “mine’s bigger than your’s” space race Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Yuri Milner met for breakfast at Pancake House to work out a plan for ending world hunger?
– Charles Coe

When first asked, ‘Where are you from?’ I was hardly old enough to hold my sentences together, barely graduated from my mother’s back.
– Akosua Zimba Afiriyie-Hwedie

One should not be displeased by the thing sent by the Beloved. This is against etiquette of love.
– Lalaji

Don’t let your solitude obscure the presence of something within it that wants to emerge. Precisely this presence will help your solitude expand. People are drawn to the easy and to the easiest side of the easy. But it is clear that we must hold ourselves to the difficult, as it is true for everything alive. Everything in nature grows and defends itself in its own way and against all opposition, straining from within and at any price, to become distinctively itself. It is good to be solitary, because solitude is difficult, and that a thing is difficult must be even more of a reason for us to undertake it.

To love is good, too, for love is difficult. For one person to care for another, that is perhaps the most difficult thing required of us, the utmost and final test, the work for which all other work is but a preparation. With our whole being, with all the strength we have gathered, we must learn to love. This learning is ever a committed and enduring process.
– R.M. Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Black boys can’t afford to play cops and robbers when we’re always considered the latter, don’t have the luxury of playing war when we’re already in one.
– Javon Johnson

Extinguish my eyes, I’ll go on seeing you.
Seal my ears, I’ll go on hearing you.
And without feet I can make my way to you,
without a mouth I can swear your name.

Break off my arms, I’ll take hold of you
with my heart as with a hand.
Stop my heart, and my brain will start to beat.
And if you consume my brain with fire,
I’ll feel you burn in every drop of my blood.

– Rainer Maria Rilke

There is no right or wrong in spiritual experience. There is only that which is, to which we must surrender. It is the mind’s lack of capacity to accept spiritual experience that destroys its energy. Without this nourishment the brain will not grow in the direction that is necessary for the next level of experience to take place, and so the person receiving these gifts with the limitation of their own personality will grow on a tangent until they become the expression of their own limitation. If God wishes to enter you through the ear, he enters through the ear; if he wishes to enter you through the nose, he enters through the nose. It is not for us to judge how spiritual energy operates. We must gratefully receive it in any way that it comes. It is a waste of time to try to explain the nature of God.
– Rudi

When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.
– Friedrich Nietzsche

Stop thinking of the end of the world as a singular event.
– @fictionalbeck

Harder to measure is insignificance. A nonevent. Insignificance creeps, it dawns, it gives you hope, then delusion, then one day, when you’re not looking, it’s there, at your front door, on your desk, in the mirror, or not, not any of that, it’s the lack of all that. One day, when you are looking, it’s not looking, no one is. You lie in your bed and realize that if you don’t get out of bed and into the world today, it is very likely no one will even notice
– Charles Yu, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

Buddhism is not concerned just with private destiny, but with the lives and consciousness of all beings…Any attempt to understand Buddhism apart from its social dimension is fundamentally a mistake. Until Western Buddhists understand this, their embrace of Buddhism will not help very much in the efforts to bring about meaningful and positive social change, or even in their struggle to transform their ego.
– Sulak Sivaraksa

The mystery of storytelling is the miracle of a single living seed which can populate whole acres of human minds.
– Ben Okri

I will not die an unlived life
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,

to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
– Dawna Markova

strange earth, strange
that we will die into

this bright, blue oblivion
though the day is beautiful

& later, the night will
also be (beautiful)

– Aracelis Girmay, the black maria

Simply seek happiness, and you are not likely to find it. Seek to create and love without regard to your happiness, and you are likely to be happy much of the time.
– Dr. M. Scott Peck

We can get stuck in a life we don’t like bc we lack the access & opportunities. Sometimes, though, we may be missing the humility to learn how to be faithful to our vision, to fail & follow through. Poetry (the process, not the product) taught me the latter. I count myself lucky.
– Cynthia Dewi Oka

Admiring anyone and everyone who is being productive because, let me tell you, I am decidedly not.
– Sarah Weinman

Poems do not endure as objects but as presences. When you read anything worth remembering, you liberate a human voice; you release into the world again a companion spirit.

I read poems to hear that voice. And I write to speak to those I have heard.

– Louise Glück

I firmly believe that in small towns all over the US, there is art and music and writing that would be considered important but will never be experienced by the masses. Much of this work is being created by the financially disadvantaged.
– Jenny Cresswell

“I was wrong” often means “it was a phase.” It wasn’t that you were absolutely wrong, it’s just that you didn’t have a fuller picture & heart available to you at that time.
– Vince Fakhoury Horn

I know a lot of creatives who are worried that we’ll never make it, but you already have the traits of a true artist: crippling anxiety, perpetual self-doubt, a boundless ability to procrastinate
– Owl! at the Library

It is an alternative to violence… stay in bed and grow your hair.
– John Lennon

I write, erase, rewrite
erase again, then
a flower blooms

– Hokusai

I have trained my daughter—every time we leave our apartment—to exclaim “Let’s do this like Buddhists!”

It’s one of the crowning achievements of my life as a parent so far.
– Ethan Nichtern

A proposal: all international climate negotiations should be held in 45 degree C rooms.
– @rutherdan

Three friends who care about you are better than a million followers.
– @ethannichtern

There’s no reason why every line must begin at the left hand margin. A silly habit, as if all the thoughts in the brain were lined up like a conscript army.
– Allen Ginsberg, Indian Journals

For if the whole world praised him he would not be moved. If the whole world blamed him he would not be discouraged. He knows the difference between that which is within, and that which is without.
– Chuang Tzu

Mindful among the mindless, awake while others dream, swift as the race horse, the wakeful outstrip the field.
– The Buddha

We Live in the Most Exquisite Terrarium
by Catherine Pierce

The fresh macadam is glossed with rain
and from the roadside, garden zinnias shout
their unabashed reds and fuchsias.

In a department store, a man
deftly arranges lipsticks by gradations
of purple, Velvet Violet to Punch-

Drunk Plum. A college radio deejay
follows new folk with old punk;
she knows it’s important to keep

the airwaves sparking. This yard is soft
with Bermuda grass. This yard is coarse
with tall fescue. Look at our Climate

Controlled Storage Units. Look at
our socks rolled together in pairs.
Look at the emails we’ve crafted

in order to make someone think of us
once the lights go out. We curate
this place with such care. As if there’s

nothing outside its blue dome. Or
as if we get to stay in here forever.

Cool summer nights.
Windows open.
Lamps burning.
Fruit in the bowl.
And your head on my shoulder.
These the happiest moments in the day.
Next to the early morning hours,
of course.
And the time
just before lunch.
And the afternoon, and
early evening hours.
But I do love
these summer nights.
Even more, I think,
than those other times.
The work finished for the day.
And no one who can reach us now.
Or ever.
– Raymond Carver

The moon rose over the bay. I had a lot of feelings.
by Donika Kelly

I am taken with the hot animal
of my skin, grateful to swing my limbs

and have them move as I intend, though
my knee, though my shoulder, though something
is torn or tearing. Today, a dozen squid, dead

on the harbor beach: one mostly buried,
one with skin empty as a shell and hollow

feeling, and, though the tentacles look soft,
I do not touch them. I imagine they
were startled to find themselves in the sun.

I imagine the tide simply went out
without them. I imagine they cannot

feel the black flies charting the raised hills
of their eyes. I write my name in the sand:
Donika Kelly. I watch eighteen seagulls

skim the sandbar and lift low in the sky.
I pick up a pebble that looks like a green egg.

To the ditch lily I say I am in love.
To the Jeep parked haphazardly on the narrow
street I am in love. To the roses, white

petals rimmed brown, to the yellow lined
pavement, to the house trimmed in gold I am

in love. I shout with the rough calculus
of walking. Just let me find my way back,
let me move like a tide come in.

My mother forbade us to walk backwards. That is how the dead walk, she would say. Where did she get this idea? Perhaps from a bad translation. The dead, after all, do not walk backwards but they do walk behind us. They have no lungs and cannot call out but would love for us to turn around. They are victims of love, many of them.
– Anne Carson

listen! everyone! you have your own poem now
it’s yours as much as your heart as much as your own life is
– C. K. Williams

Why all this need to get out
of your comfort zone?
That’s impossible.
The whole cosmos is a comfort zone.
Stars and planets never veer
from their orbits and spheres.
Yet they’re not complacent about it.
They tremble through a continuum
of ecstasy, ever-amazed
that they don’t collide.
The daffodil returns to its seed,
only to sprout again, content
in bulb, leaf, or blossom,
never complaining,
“I’m too comfortable here!”
We humans are the only whiners
in the universe,
which to all other creatures
is a constant ceremony of intoxication,
ever-recurring yet never the same.
Galaxies, flowers, electrons,
even panthers dance in their zone.
Why doesn’t your body remember
that comfort of the wild,
ambling down its atavistic path,
easy in fang, feral in pleasure?
The only thing in heaven and earth
that isn’t comfortable
is your mind.
Don’t expand your comfort zone.
Expand your awareness.
Then you’ll comprehend
how full of miracles is one
square inch of black loam,
the adventure of Being
right where you are.
How you’re always hanging
without a rope over the cliff
of this moment, about to drop
a thousand feet into
another Now.
Don’t worry.
You’re caught and kept.
The Comforter enfolds you.
– Alfred K. Lamotte

Here, take this palmful of raspberries
as my gift. It isn’t much

but we’ve often said our needs
are simple, some quiet

time alone on the patio
in the cool morning, coffee,

a few words over the newspaper.
I’ve rinsed these berries

so you can tumble them
right into your cereal, one minute

on the vine, the next in your bowl,
my hand to your mouth.

Let’s say my words were as simply
sweet as these berries, chosen

as carefully, plucked and held,
then delivered as perfect

morsels of meaning. Not
what you hear, which is never

what I mean to say. Will you take
these berries? Will you feel their weight

on your tongue, taste their tang
as they slide into you, small, bright, honest:

the only gift I have to give?

– Albert Garcia

Our fundamental nature is intrinsic.
No sane, intelligent human being
is impeded from being in touch
with this basic nature.
There is no one standing between you and it, no one is appearing like a mara
to perform dances of distraction.
At any given moment, each one of you —
even with no understanding of Buddhism — has the natural potential to realize
you are completely and inseparably united
with your intrinsic wisdom nature.
You have never been separate from it
for a moment. It is not a sometimes-there-sometimes-not quality
or an adornment that’s been attached
or added on to you.
– Khandro Rinpoche

We’ve traded in drinks for mantras, drugs for altered states of consciousness, and blaming for moral righteousness.
– Jessica DiNisco


Response To A Logician

I bow at the feet of my teacher Marpa.
And sing this song in response to you.
Listen, pay heed to what I say,
forget your critique for a while.

The best seeing is the way of “non-seeing” —
the radiance of the mind itself.
The best prize is what cannot be looked for —
the priceless treasure of the mind itself.

The most nourishing food is “non-eating” —
the transcendent food of samadhi.
The most thirst-quenching drink is “non-drinking” —
the nectar of heartfelt compassion.

Oh, this self-realizing awareness
is beyond words and description!
The mind is not the world of children,
nor is it that of logicians.

Attaining the truth of “non-attainment,”
you receive the highest initiation.
Perceiving the void of high and low,
you reach the sublime stage.

Approaching the truth of “non-movement,”
you follow the supreme path.
Knowing the end of birth and death,
the ultimate purpose is fulfilled.

Seeing the emptiness of reason,
supreme logic is perfected.
When you know that great and small are groundless,
you have entered the highest gateway.

Comprehending beyond good and evil
opens the way to perfect skill.
Experiencing the dissolution of duality,
you embrace the highest view.

Observing the truth of “non-observation”
opens the way to meditating.
Comprehending beyond “ought” and “oughtn’t”
opens the way to perfect action.

When you realize the truth of “non-effort,”
you are approaching the highest fruition.
Ignorant are those who lack this truth:
arrogant teachers inflated by learning,
scholars bewitched by mere words,
and yogis seduced by prejudice.
For though they yearn for freedom,
they find only enslavement.

***1,000 Songs

Poetry, plays, novels, music, they are the cry of the human spirit trying to understand itself and make sense of our world.
– L.M. Elliott

The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.
– Albert Einstein

People who speak or act in an ordinary fashion are most likely to be those who have been the recipients of higher experiences. But because they do not rage around, wild-eyed, people think that they are very ordinary folk and therefore not aware of anything unknown to the general run of man.
– Idries Shah

Food is not nutrients.
It’s a vast range of relational processes holding together microbiome, soil, agriculture, family, ceremony, and communication.

Communication is not signal.
It’s a vast range of transcontextual tonalities limiting what is possible to commune.

Health is not a state of being.
It’s a vast range of both ancient and spontaneous tending to transcontexual memberships… in ways that tickle mutual learning into vitality.

– Nora Bateson

a poem of unwanted forgettings.
by hune margulies

the streets of jerusalem
are like any others.
except for the sun.
the moon.
and the tears.

when i walk in the streets of jerusalem.
i hold my hands behind my back.
if you ever loved a woman
in the streets of jerusalem
you would know why.

in the streets of jerusalem
some people smile
some don’t.
i’ve seen this elsewhere too.
and i’m puzzled.

the streets of jerusalem will teach you.
they will take away your poems of despair.
i listen to the smells of zaatar and olive oil.
and to the memories of nitza in the little alley.
just like in any other street.

– hune margulies

Existential philosophy didn’t teach me that “nothing matters”, what it did teach me was that most things matter very, very little, and a few things matter a great deal. Learning to distinguish between the two is one of most important skills in life.
– Existential Comics


Don’t take a walk,
give one.
Barefoot or
bootshod, pause
ever so briefly as you
press the earth
with the softest center
of your climb.
Hikers of steep trails
call it the rest-step,
which is a kind of prayer
at the core of going.
Remember that
this whole planet feels
the wandering harmony
of your body and breath
as you pathlessly meander
through trillium silence
or scrub pine,
never quite arriving, just
caressing the loam
with your sole.
– Fred LaMotte


What do you care about?
Have you asked yourself the question?

What do you care about?
I mean, really.

A hell of a lot of things are going wrong in this world.
Hell of a lot of things we could do better.
You know what they are.
Do you care?

Or do you just want to sit back and
Watch Television?

Let the world go to hell, you say?
Is that it?

Fair enough.
Who am I to say? I’m just a poet.

But I just wanted to make sure
You asked yourself the question.

Because the world is dependent
One way or another

On the sincerity of your answer.

– Laurence Overmire

Man is a microcosm, or a little world, because he is an extract from all the stars and planets of the whole firmament, from the earth and the elements; and so he is their quintessence.
– Paracelsus

Dying man couldn’t make up his mind which place to go to — both have their advantages, ‘heaven for climate, hell for company!
– Mark Twain

There is something about you brighter than the sun and more mysterious than the night sky… Who are you when you are not thinking yourself into existence?
– Adyashanti

Letting go means not dwelling on something which has come to mind. It also means experiencing that quality of non-grasping awareness which pulls nothing from the flow—experiencing a great spaciousness which simply lets everything come and lets everything go…
– Stephen Levine

When we walk in forgetfulness, we imprint our anxieties and sorrows on Mother Earth and on those around us. But when we walk in mindfulness, each step creates a fresh breeze of peace, joy, and harmony.
– Nguyen Anh-Huong and Thich Nhat Hanh

Here in lies the problem of pursuing a new level of consciousness. It has to be done using the only tool we have – our current level of consciousness.
– Jeff Carreira

And certain things around us will change, become easier or harder, one thing or the other, but nothing will ever really be any different. I believe that. We have made our decisions, our lives have been set in motion, and they will go on and on until they stop. But if that is true, then what? I mean, what if you believe that, but you keep it covered up, until one day something happens that should change something, but then you see nothing is going to change after all. What then? Meanwhile, the people around you continue to talk and act as if you were the same person as yesterday, or last night, or five minutes before, but you are really undergoing a crisis, your heart feels damaged.
– Raymond Carver

Here in lies the problem of pursuing a new level of consciousness. It has to be done using the only tool we have – our current level of consciousness.
– Jeff Carreira

And certain things around us will change, become easier or harder, one thing or the other, but nothing will ever really be any different. I believe that. We have made our decisions, our lives have been set in motion, and they will go on and on until they stop. But if that is true, then what? I mean, what if you believe that, but you keep it covered up, until one day something happens that should change something, but then you see nothing is going to change after all. What then? Meanwhile, the people around you continue to talk and act as if you were the same person as yesterday, or last night, or five minutes before, but you are really undergoing a crisis, your heart feels damaged.
– Raymond Carver

There is no insurmountable solitude. All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance and sing our sorrowful song – but in this dance or in this song there are fulfilled the most ancient rites of our conscience in the awareness of being human and of believing in a common destiny.
– Pablo Neruda

Lastly, I wish to say to the people of good will, to the workers, to the poets, that the whole future has been expressed in this line by Rimbaud: only with a burning patience can we conquer the splendid City which will give light, justice and dignity to all mankind.
– Pablo Neruda

There was a fence with spaces you
could look through if you wanted to.

An architect who saw this thing
stood there one summer evening.

Took out the spaces with great care.
And built a castle in the air.

The fence was utterly dumbfounded –
Each post stood there with nothing round it.
– Christian Morgenstern

People who speak or act in an ordinary fashion are most likely to be those who have been the recipients of higher experiences. But because they do not rage around, wild-eyed, people think that they are very ordinary folk and therefore not aware of anything unknown to the general run of man.
– Idries Shah

Green turtles must have the kind of mind that doesn’t think about sharks unless a shark is there. That must be how it is with them. I can’t believe they’d swim 1,400 miles thinking about sharks. […] I think of the turtles swimming steadily against the current all the way to Ascension. I think of them swimming through all that golden-green water over the dark, over the chill of the deeps and the jaws of the dark. And I think of the sun over the water, the sun through the water, the eye holding the sun, being held by it with no thought and only the rhythm of the going, the steady wing-strokes of the flippers in the water. Then it doesn’t seen hard to believe. It seems the only way to do it, the only way in fact to be: swimming, swimming, the eye held by the sun, no sharks in the mind, nothing in the mind.
– Russell Hoban, Turtle Diary

The Metropolis-like phantasmagoria of Dubai’s super-skyscrapers or the Olympic megastructures in Beijing […], the bright archipelagos of utopian luxury, map terminal, not anticipatory, stages in the history of late modernity. [They] stand as a testament to the resignation with which humanity squanders the borrowed time on which it now lives. […T]hese gilded dreamworlds have no alarm clock; they are willful, narcissistic withdrawals from the tragedies overtaking the planet. The rich will simply hide out in their castles […], desperately trying to consume all the good things of the Earth in their lifetimes. Indeed, by their very existence, the indoor ski slopes of Dubai and private bison herds of Ted Turner represent that ruse of reason by which the neoliberal order both acknowledges and dismisses the fact that the current trajectory of human existence is unsustainable.
– Mike Davis, Evil Paradises: Dreamworlds of Neoliberalism

The soul exhausts its revolts in the shady piazzas of small Italian towns, in noontimes when pigeons look for shelter, in slowness and laziness […]. Here the days revolve from the daybreak, swollen with roosters’ crowing, to this unequalled evening, sweet and tender, silky behind the cypress trees, its long hours measured by the crickets’ chirping. The inner silence that accompanies me rises from the slow pace that leads from this day to the next. What more can I long for than this room opening on the plain below, with its antique furniture and its hand-made lace. I have the whole sky on my face and I feel as if I could follow these slow, revolving days forever, spinning motionlessly with them. I breathe in the only happiness within my reach—an attentive and friendly awareness.
– Albert Camus

Great sweeps of thought, emotion, and perception are compressed to forms the mind is able to hold — into images, sentences, and stories that serve as entrance tokens to large and often slippery realms of being.
– Jane Hirshfield, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry

Mother’s Words

Why look for answers, my child,
Among the people you meet?
Why believe there is fulfillment
In your narrow life of work?

Why sacrifice the gift of loneliness
To fill up the time with diversion?

Look inside every living thing you find.
Feel the energy of rocks and leaves, hummingbirds
and cactus.
Dwell for a moment in a single blade of grass.
Discover the secret of snowflakes.

In these patterns lie harmony, my child.
In harmony, the universe.

– Nancy Wood

take the one seat
stop trying to escape
whatever it is
you are trying to escape~

settle more deeply into love~

– Ari Annona

Prayer for Jackson
by Amy Gerstler

Dear Lord, fire-eating custodian of my soul,
author of hermaphrodites, radishes,
and Arizona’s rosy sandstone. Please protect this wet cheeked baby from disabling griefs.
Help him sense when to rise to his feet
and make his desires known,
and when to hit the proverbial dirt.

On nights it pleases thee to keep him sleepless,
summon crickets, frogs
and your chorus of nocturnal birds
so he won’t conclude the earth’s gone mute.
Make him astute as Egyptian labyrinths that keep the dead’s privacy inviolate.

Give him his mother’s swimming ability.

Make him so charismatic that even pigeons flirt with him, in their nervous, avian way.
Grant him the clear mindedness of a midwife
who never winces when tickled.

Let him be adventurous as a menu of ox tongue hash, lemon rind wine and pine-cone Jello.

Fill him with awe for the seasons, minaret’s
saw-toothed peaks, the breathing of cathedrals, and all that lives – for one radian day or sixty pitiful years.

Bravely, he has ventured among us, disguised as a newcomer, shedding remarkably few tears.

You can’t be on guard and let go.
– @EstherPerel

Loss is a symptom of excess. The sacrifices demanded at crossroads – the burdens that task our bodies to make new moves, to meet their stunning indebtednesses – are not transactions within a shriveled economy of conservative calculations. Those sacrifices are hyphens, harbingers of queer abundance, potentially connecting us to strange visions of our selves that exceed the familiar. When you meet the trickster at the crossroads, when he demands a pound of flesh by digging a hole in your side, it might be that this surgical operation is the loss that is needed for you to exceed the economy that made that loss possible in the first place.

– Bayo Akomolafe


Studying a muscular conspiritualist who livestreams as he chews on raw meat. He’s a big advocate of the “Fear is the virus” theme. In one podcast he weighs out the lifespan of 75 years “living in a plastic bubble” vs. 50 years of adventure and meaning and love. /1

Of course he favours the latter. What really strikes me about this stuff is how consistent this black-and-white schizotypal imagination is. Like JP Sears’s bff muscle master Tim Kennedy offering devotees a choice between “dangerous freedom” and “peaceful slavery”. /2

First of all, you’re white and living in Austin. Second: you’re not 15, this isn’t Star Wars. Third:
ask yourself what combination of ableism and shame projection prompts you to make shit up about people who don’t deadlift or biohack, or whose adventure and love you cannot see. /3

These guys put such effort into fantasizing they’re on some kind of frontier. But they’re just consumers like everyone else. There are no Campbellian virtue points for raw meat bought at Whole Foods, or hurling axes from Home Depot at wooden planks. They can never be primal. /4

There is no ecofascist reconstruction of anything that will really give them the independence they dream they’re entitled to. The gospel of invulnerability will drive engagement, but lead to the most fleeting pleasures, dictated by the supply chains they imagine come from God… /5

… but really fry the earth they say they adore. A lot of these guys are into the Bible but I think they skip Ecclesiastes. “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”

Ecclesiastes would be a great Instagram account.


– Matthew Remski

…the rental rate for this gift of being allowed to flourish and reside in this continuum with the rest of the world is that we do everything possible to be indigenously beautiful, promising that we make ourselves spiritually full and delicious so as to feed the next ones to appear in the ongoing river on the occasion of our passing.
– Martin Prechtel, The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic

Whatever it takes, recognize that your mind has been hacked.

Then commit to doing the necessary work to take it back.

More love.
More understanding.
More compassion.
Less hate.

I Go Among Trees
by Wendell Berry

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.

– Kent Burgess


Anyone can be a poet
It is true
For a day, or an hour
Or a moment or two

But there are some who must
Live and breathe in the word
Give rhythm to the music
That has never been heard

They will remember
When the stories are done
When all but the very last
Battle is won

They will remember
And others will cry
That some didn’t listen
And no one asked why

So when you give o’er
Your time to a rhyme
Give a thought to the height
And the breadth of the climb.
– Laurence Overmire

The island is pervaded by a subtle spiritual atmosphere. It is as strange to the mind as it is to the eye. Old songs and traditions are the spiritual analogues of old castles and burying-places and old songs and traditions you have in abundance. There is a smell of the sea in the material air and there is a ghostly something in the air of the imagination… You breathe again the air of old story-books.
– Alexander Smith, A Summer in Skye

I have a secret fear that perhaps all the writers I translate sound like me.
– Margaret Jull Costa

Gaining is delusion. Loss is realization.
– Kodo Sawaki

The rainbow has mythic roots alongside and beyond the Christian story of being “God’s promise/covenant to humanity.”

In alchemy, it is the Cauda Pavonis which symbolizes the completion of the process. The Cauda Pavonis phase of the alchemical process describes a subjective perceptual change in which the wayfarer (or experiencer) becomes aware of the dreamlike nature of existence. With half of the eyes opened [eyes on the peacock’s tail] and half of the eyes closed as if in a sleep state, the experiencer now relates to her existence as a waking dream where conditions and encounters are revelatory.”
Lizbeth Rymland
(hence revelations in the Bible is the revealing or unveiling)

In the Vedas, the rainbow represents Indra’s Bow, where each ray is an aspect of the Sun’s (Surya’s) rays and each chakra is symbolized by a different color of the rainbow. Sun Salutations in Yoga are in honor of this principle.

In Greek mythology, Iris is the personification of the Goddess of the rainbow, and the messenger who travels between the Gods and humanity. She sometimes is depicted wearing a coat of many colors, and is therefore, analogous to the story of Jacob with his coat of many colors.

for me, all of these stories are metaphors for the alchemical process which reveals an iridescence (“iris” comes from iridescence) or shimmering at a certain point in the process (which is what metal does under heat ~ I am a metalsmith so I know this process well…)

many of the World’s creation myths have to do with the “sacred smith” or craftsman who uses fire (either through pottery or metalsmithing/forging) to fashion humanity into existence~

– Ari Annona

On Being Woke vs. Being Dreamed
by Tad Hargrave
Last night, driving home to Victoria from Courtenay, I was listening to Martin Shaw and Manchan Magan speak on the work of John Moriarty. Martin had just written up a collection of John’s work in a beautiful book called A Hut At The Edge of the Village.
“He wasn’t woke. He was dreaming,” said Martin of John.
That difference struck me as worthy of sinking into.
There is such a focus on being ‘woke’ these days. I’m not against it but there’s more to the story. Being awake is half the story of being human. The other part is dreaming or, even more so, being dreamed.
The condition of being awake is a hard one. It means seeing this world with a blazing lucidity with the noon day Sun banishing all shadows. It means coming to sobering grips with the consequences that made us and that we have made. It means attending to the ‘wake’ we have left behind us and trying to discern which boat left the wake in which we find ourselves. It means regularly attending the ‘wake’ of all the endings, limits and frailties that are a part of life. There’s a lot of grief in seeing clearly. As Stephen Jenkinson puts it, “the sound of waking up is not ‘aha’. It’s a sob.” And that’s often true.
But there’s another whole side to this. It’s being on the receiving end of the deep mystery often in the form of images that appear to us. Sometimes those images come to us in the form of poetry and old folk tales. Sometimes they come to us in dreams. We didn’t generate the images any more than we generated the eggs we cook or apples we pick but they nourish us just the same.
Being awake lets us see the territory as it is, but being dreamed by forces greater than us is what allows us to navigate that territory and choose a direction.
Part of being awake must also be to wake up to the hard limits of wakefulness. Of course, the science, statistics and data matters. But, if that’s all we have, we are left directionless and overwhelmed.
Dreaming and being dreamed is the home of our intuition, of synchronicities, of the ways that the natural world speaks to us and gives us signs.
I suspect that traditional people’s understood that the little ones born to them came out of the Big Dream, from the other side, that they were a sign of something and some ones. That their appearance, the gifts, capacities, personalities and interests of this little one could tell us something of the times we were in. They were a communication from the Great Beyond.
And this matters. As Martin put it in another wonderful book of his called Scatterlings, “Of course we’re outgunned. But outnumbered? Not when you call in the myth world, not when you call to ancestors deserving of the name, not when you weft your life to the thinking of a hare or the open-shouldered stance of a midwinter beech. Make a stand for something small, specific and precious. Do it today. Amen and let it be so.”
We are being spoken to constantly. Part of that speech we hear when we are awake. Part of it is banished by our insistence on constant, vigilant, wakefulness.
Wakefulness gives us a map but dreaming gives us a compass. Maybe it’s something like that.
Statistics are like bread. The calories burn quick, man. But images? These are the full, exploding with nourishment, dripping fat left to us in our ancestral art and stories. It’s amazing any of it has survived at all.
Sleep is that hut at the edge of the village. It receives strange guests all night long. They leave gifts for you when you wake. You will need them in the times to come. The ones to come will need them more.

Most of conflicts and tensions are due to language.
Don’t pay so much attention to the words.
In Love’s country,
Language doesn’t have its place.
Love is mute.
– Shams Tabrizi

What is it like to be a forest? It is to be alive. It is to be filled with aliveness, to be ablaze with aliveness. It is to be rooted in place, like a tree, and it is to move, like bees, like bears, like spiders who throw out webs as sails and travel around the world. It is to be connected one to the others in spiderwebs of memories, parasites, nutrients, hitchhikers, neighborly and nonneighborly relationships, time, joys, sorrows, regrets, anticipations, deaths, births, hatchings, germinations, eatings, sex, dreams. It is to be living the same blazing, burning, comforting, joyful, exhilarating, calming dream. It is to carry all these lives and all these deaths and all this sun and soil and decomposition and growth and disease and all these memories in one’s bones, and in the marrow of one’s bones, and in the woody fiber of one’s bones, and in the nectar of one’s bones, and in the breath of wind of one’s bones, and the dragonfly-red pigment of one’s bones. It is the marriage of hitchhiker and hitchhiker on bone and blood and memory and wood and soil.
– Derrick Jensen, Songs of the Dead

Last night the moon
in the sky hung
like a glowing fraction
and a stranger asked me if I believed in fate.
– Paul Guest

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again,
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)
– Sylvia Plath

This moment, the zillionth, in a long parade.
A something arising from nothing.
Existing. And sinking back, again.

– Danusha Laméris

they longed to press themselves against a heartbeat.
– Philip Pullman, from Northern Light

is the broad blue sky
a keepsake left behind by the
one I love each time
a wave of longing rises
my empty eyes look upward
– Sakai no Hitozane

The more you delve into your loneliness, like that tree, the more longing takes you with motherly tenderness to its country which is made of transparent, fragile fibers. Longing has a country, a family, and an exquisite taste in arranging wildflowers. It has a time chosen with divine care, a quiet mythical time in which figs ripen slowly and the gazelle sleeps next to the wolf in the imagination of the boy who did not witness a massacre. Longing takes you around its country like a tour guide in heaven. It takes you up to a mountain where you used to take refuge to wallow in wild plants until your pores soak up the smell of sage. Longing is smell.
– Mahmoud Darwish, XIV

She will remain
like the odd-alone, small yellow sorrel—most
common of wildflowers—I pressed in the back
of this book, not the stuff of memory unless
I write the hour we sat on a bench of stone,
parrots making green screaming ribbons of the air
above us; I wanted something to remember it by,
some small memento I recall hesitating
to take from its one afternoon of pollen
and bees—color its one remaining trueness,
shape collapsed, thinned as paper—this preserve
a worse kind of withering, perhaps, and yet
you see how I again have turned to it
for its very failure to compare.
– Claudia Emerson

I will never know how you see red and you will never know how I see it. But this separation of consciousness is recognized only after a failure of communication, and our first movement is to believe in an undivided being between us.
– Maurice Merleau-Ponty

I am the poet of the body,
And I am the poet of the soul.
The pleasures of heaven are with me, and
the pains of hell are with me,
The first I graft and increase upon myself–
the latter I translate into a new tongue.
– Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

Like dry ground welcoming the rain, he let the solitude, silence, and loneliness soak in.
– Haruki Murakami

The elders were wise.
They knew that man’s heart
away from nature, becomes hard; they
knew that lack of respect for growing, living things,
soon led to lack of respect for humans too.
– Chief Luther Standing Bear

The universe is composed of subjects to be communed with, not objects to be exploited. Everything has its own voice. Thunder and lightning and stars and planets, flowers, birds, animals, trees, — all these have voices, and they constitute a community of existence that is profoundly related.
– Thomas Berry

Gary Snyder:
Practically speaking, a life that is vowed to simplicity, appropriate boldness, good humor, gratitude, unstinting work and play, and lots of walking brings us close to the actual existing world and its wholeness.

Governments always need enemies, even when they’re not at war. If you don’t have a real enemy, you make one up and spread the word. It scares the population, and when the people are scared, they tend not to step out of line.
– Paul Auster ; Oracle Night

We do not have “perfect” politics. We do not believe in factionalism or rigid ideology. We can die having had the “correct positions” but having accomplished nothing and freed no one. The desire to be “right” or “perfect” is the highest form of cynicism.
– The Red Nation

Dr. Elizabeth Sawin:
If the world is a complex, adaptive, finite, and interconnected and the power structure assumes the opposite, eventually there’s bound to be trouble.

The world was fucked up. It was hard to say how exactly, but we could feel it. There was injustice, lots of it, we saw it as a dull shape coming into focus.
– Michelle Tea

When Spirit, Mind, Heart, and Body are aligned, the impossible, becomes probable.
– Simone Wright

I have seen enough of one war never to wish to see another.
– Thomas Jefferson

I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done.
– Sophia

john cassavetes was 5’7
– @HannahSeidlitz

we need to transcend, transport, escape; we need meaning, understanding, and explanation; we need to see over-all patterns in our lives. We need hope, the sense of a future; the freedom to get beyond ourselves.
– Oliver Sacks

We all arrive by different streets,
by unequal languages, at Silence.
– Pablo Neruda

How do we memorialize an event that is still ongoing?
– Christina Sharpe

First of all nobody will survive money.
– Jackie Wang, The Sunflower Cast a Spell To Save Us From The Void

Maybe what’s needed is to write with the awareness of being wrong. Can one’s wrongness be a source of compassion.
– Kate Zambreno, Appendix Project

Don’t stop until you find what anchors you, what grounds you, what helps you soothe your soul.
– Ariela

Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.
– Thomas Jefferson

The irony is, when you exercise regularly your energy actually improves.

Yet people fear the opposite.
– @TheMentalBreak

A society becomes totalitarian when its structure becomes flagrantly artificial: that is, when its ruling class has lost its function but succeeds in clinging to power by force or fraud.
– George Orwell

I never dwelt on the dark farcical furious real life of this roaring working world, wow.
– @DailyKerouac

I do not think that boxes full of darkness are gifts. I’m getting counselling right now to learn how to get over all the boxes full of darkness people have given me. Please don’t give me any more boxes full of darkness.
– @LeahJCallen

If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.
– George Eliot, Middlemarch

You get more of whatever you give attention to.
– Shane Parrish

Babe are you ok, you’ve barely touched your discourse.
– @ambernoelle

seems to wash
the summer mountains
– Issa

The man who wishes to know all things is not a sage.
– Chuang Tzu

You need people who can walk their companies into the future rather than back them into the future.
– Warren Bennis

Never fuck around with the energy you allow into your life. The people, places and things you surround yourself with really do have an effect on your emotional, energetic and mental health.
– @_Pammy_DS_

you weren’t radicalized by your college professor, you were radicalized by learning that in other countries ambulance rides are free and you don’t go to jail for incorrectly guessing your taxes
– Owl! at the Library

There is a land grab going on right now.
Outrage, that strategically important territory, is being seized as its topography is being defined and its landscapes shaped for us.
May we be be wary of surrendering these precious lands of our passion.
– Dan Leak

Critical Race Theory is a gasp of emancipatory hope that law can serve liberation rather than domination.
– Dr. Cornel West

If you want a bitter
seedless life,
just keep identifying your
self as the victim.
Just keep
blaming others
for your circumstance.
But if you want your
heart to melt into
the impeccable splendor
of the golden sun
and illuminate the earth
with courage,
take off the cloak
of your old story.
Step naked
through the portal
of the present moment
into a kingdom
where darkness sparkles
and silence sings,
because there is
no judgment,
and fear is swallowed up
in Love.
– Fred LaMotte

I really feel that if we finally came to grips with what Martin Luther King Jr. did, taught us, and what he stood for, and lived it out, then we could truly be a nation at peace with itself, and we could be a powerful moral force in the world that could bring all the discordant elements together. And then we would begin to see the beloved community emerge.
– Coretta Scott King

To love is to create a religion that has a fallible god.
– Jorge Luis Borges

by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
Riding our bikes through the warm summer night,
the dark itself parted to let us pass;
wind in our hair, soft whir of the wheels—
and an almost irrational joy grew in me then,
such simple joy, as if joy were always here,
waiting to flourish, needing only to be noticed.
And is joy latent in everything?
I have felt it sometimes in the washing
of dishes, in mowing the lawn,
in peeling the carrots, even washing
the fishtank and scrubbing the floor.
So could it be, too, inside worried pacing?
In envy? In sighing? In the clenching of fists?
Is there joy where I can’t imagine it?
Joy—waiting to spin like a wheel,
waiting to rise like laughter
that careens through the deepening dark.

East of me, west of me, full summer.
How deeper than elsewhere the dusk is in your own yard.
Birds fly back and forth across the lawn
looking for home
As night drifts up like a little boat.

Day after day, I become of less use to myself.
Like this mockingbird,
I flit from one thing to the next.
What do I have to look forward to at fifty-four?
Tomorrow is dark.
Day-after-tomorrow is darker still.

The sky dogs are whimpering.
Fireflies are dragging the hush of evening
up from the damp grass.
Into the world’s tumult, into the chaos of every day,
Go quietly, quietly.
– Charles Wright

Psychological growth comes from making decisions, wrestling with ethical and moral choices, and living the experiments of our lives. In hierarchies, responsibility for all these things is cast upward. People following orders abdicate individual responsibility, obey orders out of fear of reprisals, and set aside ethical dilemmas in the march to get the job done. In turn, those giving orders become separated from the consequences of the action, [and] when something goes wrong, can claim ignorance and blame those who actually did the deed. In addition, in the name of efficiency and order, the particular and the variable, the eccentrics and freethinkers are suppressed.
– Linda J. Shepherd

I need the sea because it teaches me.

I don’t know if I learn music or awareness,
if it’s a single wave or its vast existence,
or only its harsh voice or its shining
suggestion of fishes and ships.
The fact is that until I fall asleep,
in some magnetic way I move in
the university of the waves.

It’s not simply the shells crunched
as if some shivering planet
were giving signs of its gradual death;
no, I reconstruct the day out of a fragment,
the stalactite from the sliver of salt,
and the great god out of a spoonful.

What it taught me before, I keep. It’s air
ceaseless wind, water and sand.

It seems a small thing for a young person,
to have come here to live with his own fire;
nevertheless, the pulse that rose
and fell in its abyss,
the crackling of the blue cold,
the gradual wearing away of the star,
the soft unfolding of the wave
squandering snow with its foam,
the quiet power out there, sure
as a stone shrine in the depths,
replaced my world in which were growing
stubborn sorrow, gathering oblivion,
and my life changed suddenly:
as I became part of its pure movement.

– Pablo Neruda

…the change from the old pattern to the new one always involves chaos. For an energy field to change into a new energy field, the original energy field must disorganize and fall apart. When the new tone is introduced, the geometric pattern becomes visually disorganized and chaotic before it transforms into a new geometric pattern.
– John Beaulieu

The pen will never be able to move fast enough to write down every word discovered in the space of memory. Some things have been lost forever, other things will perhaps be remembered again, and still other things have been lost and found and lost again. There is no way to be sure of any this.
– Paul Auster

Maybe I write because if someone, a person, a system, tries to erase me, someone will be able to read this and remember that I existed.
– E.M. Tran

My theory is that there is less indelicacy in speaking out your highest, deepest, tenderest emotions to the world at large, than to almost any individual. You may be mistaken in the individual; but you cannot be mistaken in thinking that, somewhere among your fellow-creatures, there is a heart that will receive yours into itself.

Moving beyond coercive traditions could be a lot easier with a better understanding of the biological foundations of democracy. Rather than aiming for complete control, agreeable communication has inspired successful coexistence from the beginning. Mutually beneficial communications are more consistent with the nature of life (and thus with human nature) than the compulsive bias of any authority, whether idealistic or materialistic. This means that democratic growth can happen more quickly and easily than we imagine, as we get the idea. Some of this can be purposefully organized, but more of it depends on sympathetic alliances encouraging healthy collaborative diversity. As evolution has repeatedly demonstrated, the most successful living systems preserve a lot of qualitative diversity. On the other hand, coercive behavior undermines the well-wrought frameworks of mutual trust that allow for as much collaborative diversity as possible. For when domineering controls become commonplace in dealing with the living, such accepted cruelties subvert the amenable networks of alliance through which the living thrive.
– George Gorman

Break the Mirror
by Nanao Sakaki
In the morning
After taking cold shower
—-what a mistake—-
I look at the mirror.
There, a funny guy,
Grey hair, white beard, wrinkled skin,
—-what a pity—-
Poor, dirty, old man,
He is not me, absolutely not.
Land and life
Fishing in the ocean
Sleeping in the desert with stars
Building a shelter in the mountains
Farming the ancient way
Singing with coyotes
Singing against nuclear war—
I’ll never be tired of life.
Now I’m seventeen years old,
Very charming young man.
I sit quietly in lotus position,
Meditating, meditating for nothing.
Suddenly a voice comes to me:
“To stay young,
To save the world,
Break the mirror.”

Very early in my life it was too late.
– Marguerite Duras, L’Amant

The cheapest and most vulgar pride on earth – is pride of a nationalist. He has no other individual qualities to be proud of except for group mentality. A person of individual talent observes defects of a group & attempts an improvement.
– Arthur Schopenhauer

Happiness does not await us all. One needn’t be a prophet to say that there will be more grief and pain than serenity and money. That is why we must hang on to one another.
– Anton Chekhov

You saved me, you should remember me.
– Louise Glück

Sviatlana Alexievich: We need to stop measuring ideas with how many lives we can sacrifice for them. When a man throws himself under a tank to blow it up, it’s not a victory, it’s a failure of humanity. I don’t want our kids to admire paintings of partisans holding grenades.

Ethan Nichtern:
Every single problem we face would become more workable if powerful people could simply begin to recognize how much their actions are driven by fear of losing power.

Every. Single. One.

Some of us are being called into the deepest silence we have ever experienced.
– @Maryamhasnaa

Human nature is wise beyond words. Underestimating or even doubting instinct, intuition, body wisdom & that which cannot be intellectualized or measured by current-day tools/methods only limits us. Honouring (our+all) nature helps us learn, grow and expand our mind, heart & soul.
– @IAmMyBestToday

When you pass through, no one can pin you down, no one can call you back
– Ying An

The hallmark of a productive debate is not persuasion, but insight.

In a good argument, you’re as motivated to learn as to convince.

You can declare victory when everyone involved has deepened their understanding, broadened their knowledge, or evolved their thinking.
– Adam Grant

The world wasn’t exactly made for me.
– Jean-Jacques Beineix

[…] my only
cure for the loneliness I go through:

– Franz Wright

Heartbreak can still hurt 2 years down the line, 3 years, even 4. Damn it it can even still hurt 10 years later, when you’ve got a new life in a different place surrounded by different people and you look back on who is no longer around and wonder if there’s the smallest chance they still think of you and the memories too,

It can still hurt when you thought you’d let it go long ago.
– moon dust and dreams

There is a certain tone in the things that matter, an architecture of delayed light or slow sounds from long ago. Fragments for the after-silence, the sorting of a garden. Things in their essence. Spiritual forms, an invisible geometry of objects that gives strength to us through music…Whispered petitions to show us the way or to destroy us completely. Every word a last word. Every sound a revenant.
– Herbert Pföstl, On my Sanctuary Place

The divorce between thought and life. Thought, emptied of life, dries up, shrivels, is no longer thought. For thought is an expression of life, it is identical with life. One can speak without thinking: for this we have clichés, automatic expressions. The only true thought is living thought.
– Eugène Ionesco

While you shine in the center
like a constant star,
I toss my orbit. Offer my shadow
and moonlight.
– S. J. Ghaus

We must completely revise our understanding of the earth story, the life story, the human story and the Western story; for indeed our new situation reveals the true reality of what we have been doing.
– Thomas Berry, The Ecozoic Period

We can look into the eyes of the newborn and see that they have come here with precious gifts.
We can look within and see the wise old one sharing the years of story and teachings.
A memory that has been forgotten by most cultures is ready and waiting to emerge.
Bring it home, truly home within and weave the fine threads of its value in expression within your own inner and outer world…it is simply knowledge until we make an act of creation with it.
Weaving the threads of a whole, big, beautiful life today…it is good and I am in gratitude!
– cheri lynn kittel

According to a contemporary critic, it is morbid to confess your sins. I should say the morbid thing is not to confess them. The morbid thing is to conceal your sins and let them eat your heart out, which is the happy state of most people in highly civilized societies.
– G. K. Chesterton

I am a child of the Milky Way. The night is my mother. I am made of the dust of stars. Every atom in my body was forged in a star. When the universe exploded into being, already the bird longed for the wood and the fish for the pool. When the first galaxies fell into luminous clumps, already matter was struggling toward consciousness. The star clouds of Sagittarius are a burning bush. If there is a voice in Sagittarius, I’d be a fool not to listen. If God’s voice in the night is a scrawny cry, then I’ll prick up my ears. If night’s faint lights fail to knock me off my feet, then I’ll sit back on a dark hillside and wait and watch. A hint here and a trait there. Listening and watching. Waiting, always waiting, for the tingle in the spine.
– Chet Raymond

Be good
in swirls of time
in the smell of jasmine
in the delight of a dove’s flight
Be good
on easy days
of smooth rivers flowing downstream
on hand held walks
when violence orders the day
like a baton against the skull
or the lash of words against the spirit
settle your goodness by a vase of flowers
marry your fist and heart
unburden yourself of censorship
– David Bedrick

A crow flew into the tree outside my window.
It was not Ted Hughes’s crow, or Galway’s crow.
Or Frost’s, Pasternak’s, or Lorca’s crow.
Or one of Homer’s crows, stuffed with gore,
after the battle. This was just a crow.
That never fit in anywhere in its life,
or did anything worth mentioning.
It sat there on the branch for a few minutes.
Then picked up and flew beautifully
out of my life.
– Raymond Carver

It’s one thing to develop a nostalgia for home while you’re boozing with Yankee writers in Martha’s Vineyard or being chased by the bulls in Pamplona. It’s something else to go home and visit with the folks in Reed’s drugstore on the square and actually listen to them. The reason you can’t go home again is not because the down-home folks are mad at you – they’re not, don’t flatter yourself, they couldn’t care less – but because once you’re in orbit and you return to Reed’s drugstore on the square, you can stand no more than fifteen minutes of the conversation before you head for the woods, head for the liquor store, or head back to Martha’s Vineyard, where at least you can put a tolerable and saving distance between you and home. Home may be where the heart is but it’s no place to spend Wednesday afternoon.
– Walker Percy

The pleasantest of all diversions is to sit alone under a lamp, a book spread out before you, and to make friends with people of a distant past you have never known.
– Yoshida Kenkō

What a strange demented feeling it gives me when I realize that I have spent whole days before this inkstone, with nothing better to do, jotting down at random whatever nonsensical thoughts have entered my head.
– Yoshida Kenko

It is foolish
to let a young redwood
grow next to a house.

Even in this
one lifetime,
you will have to choose.

That great calm being,
this clutter of soup pots and books—

Already the first branch-tips brush at the window.
Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life. »

– Jane Hirshfield

Waking up from a dream can be a nightmare. We cannot stop thinking about the things that were destroyed, the people who vanished, the arms that tried to hold on to a shadow. What was real rapidly becomes befogged in the uncertainty of memory. Time was stolen too quickly and one feels bewildered to see it resume its normal pace, indifferent to the lives it drowned. And life is a long, eerie dream.
– Henri Peña-Ruiz

I imagine myself in time looking back on myself—
this self, this morning,
drinking her coffee on the first day of a new year
and once again almost unable to move her pen through the iron air.

Perplexed by my life as Midas was in his world of sudden metal,
surprised that it was not as he’d expected, what he had asked.

And that other self, who watches me from the distance of decades,
what will she say? Will she look at me with hatred or with compassion,
I whose choices made her what she will be?
– Jane Hirshfield

Mass communication, radio, and especially television, have attempted, not without success, to annihilate every possibility of solitude and reflection.
– Eugenio Montale

In a stable world, it’s best to be data-driven. In a changing world, it’s better to be data-informed.

Data can reveal patterns from the past. It takes judgment to predict how those patterns will evolve in the future.

Data shouldn’t guide decisions. They should inform decisions.
– Adam Grant

While many modern people might confuse the words soul and spirit to mean generally the same thing, for the alchemists they are fundamentally opposing principles. Spirit lifts us up, whereas soul pulls
us deeper into life.
– Gary P. Caton

I have lost my smile,
but don’t worry.
The dandelion has it.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Never speak harsh words For they will rebound upon you. Angry words hurt And the hurt rebounds. Like a broken gong.
– The Buddha

Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging-on of an uncompleted task.
– William James

Nowadays enthusiasm is accounted folly; truth, cynicism; dissimulation, self-control; stiffness of manners, dignity; deception, cleverness; hypocrisy, decency; selfishness, economy; freedom of thought, effrontery; and superstition, the prop of human morals.
– George Sand

game over /
all the empty seats /
turn blue

– Alan Pizzarelli

…in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his or her level of incompetence. [The Peter Principle].”
“Parkinson’s Law affirms that bureaucracy expands as long as it is possible to do so…. The reason is to be found in the simple fact that the members of a bureaucracy tend to multiply their subordinates rather than their possible rivals.”
“One of the lesser-known problems of hierarchical organizations is that they are bad for your health…. [In a number of studies it was found that] Employees at the lowest level of the hierarchy had a mortality rate three times higher than that of employees at the highest level….” [The same thing happens with the very hierarchical societies of baboons.]
“All centralized and hierarchical organizations…are inherently fragile. Hernan Cortes and Francisco Pizarro, accompanied by a few hundred men, brought down two millenarian civilizations, the Aztecs and the Incas, simply by capturing their leaders…. The Apache, much less advanced than the Aztecs and Incas but endowed with a distributed organizational structure and no centralized power, resisted the Spanish onslaught for centuries….”
“Is it possible that we cannot manage to come up with something different, as would be the case, for example, of diffuse organizations constructed like the body of a plant [and the Internet]?”
“The Nation of Plants, by utilizing diffuse, decentralized, and reiterated organizational models, has liberated itself forever from the problems of fragility, bureaucracy, distance, sclerosis, and inefficiency typical of the hierarchical and centralized organizations of the animal world.
– Stefano Mancuso, The Nation of Plants

Those who think-Let me first correct society, then get around to myself are barred from even outer gate of the mansion of God. All societies are evil, sorrowful, inequitable & will always be. If you really want to help this world, you will have to teach how to live in it.
– Campbell

We need the story of the past and the dream of the future. The story explains to us how we got to where we are, and the dream is our way of thinking into the future. The dream drives and guides the action.
– Thomas Berry

Good citizenship would teach accuracy of thinking and accuracy of statement.

– Mark Twain

Someone whose faith is not grounded in reason is like a stream of water that can be led anywhere.
– Tibetan Saying

There is no iron that can enter the human heart with such stupefying effect as a period placed at just the right moment.
– Isaac Babel


THE island dreams under the dawn
And great boughs drop tranquillity;
The peahens dance on a smooth lawn,
A parrot sways upon a tree,
Raging at his own image in the enamelled sea.

Here we will moor our lonely ship
And wander ever with woven hands,
Murmuring softly lip to lip,
Along the grass, along the sands,
Murmuring how far away are the unquiet lands:

How we alone of mortals are
Hid under quiet boughs apart,
While our love grows an Indian star,
A meteor of the burning heart,
One with the tide that gleams, the wings that gleam
and dart,

The heavy boughs, the burnished dove
That moans and sighs a hundred days:
How when we die our shades will rove,
When eve has hushed the feathered ways,
With vapoury footsole by the water’s drowsy blaze.

– W B Yeats

To handle yourself, use your head;
to handle others, use your heart.
– Donald Laird

No complaining about how hard it is to write,
we are all so, so lucky to write, to sit down,
inside, and write words on paper.
There is no greater freedom,
no greater good,
nothing that brings more joy.
– Isabel Allende

Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.
– Dinah Maria Mulock Craik, A Life for a Life

My apologies to time for all the world I overlook each second.

– Wislawa Szymborska

And in every moment, I return to the remembrance that the deeper nature of love is a healing force in the soul of the world.

May your inner eye
See through the surfaces
And glean the real presence
Of everything that meets you~
– John O’Donohue

Non-attention is the greatest weapon to fight thoughts, because thoughts without our attention have no power.
– Chariji

Although tsultrim, or moral discipline, applies to body, speech, and mind, we focus on the mind, which is the ruler of the other two doors. But we can’t apply tsultrim to our mind if we’re always making excuses based on our self and its attachments. Instead, we have to apply a universal perspective. As the Buddha said, “Take yourself as an example and do not harm others.” Because we have direct experience of what makes us happy and unhappy, we can infer that the same things make others happy and unhappy. If we go against this principle mindlessly, we should acknowledge our wrong doing instead of defending our ego.
– Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

Some people are jumping from wave to wave in search of wetness.
– Joseph Campbell

Even good change is kind of exhausting.
– Honor Finnegan

A Brief For The Defense
Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.
– Jack Gilbert

The victim who is able to articulate
the situation of the victim
has ceased to be a victim:
he or she has become a threat.

– James Baldwin


Every day we relate to ourselves, others, and the world around us.

We choose what to reveal and what to hide, protect, or hold close.

With some people we don’t share our hurt or vulnerability; with others we don’t speak of our attraction, irritation, or anger; and with yet others we don’t share our secrets, illnesses, or aspects of our spiritual life.

We do this often consciously, to good purpose and consequence.

However many of these ‘choices’ are made unconsciously—we may not even be aware of some of our deepest feelings, fantasies, needs, and experiences, making it impossible to truly consider whether, or how, to express ourselves.

What happens with the unexpressed, unfelt, or unknown?

Sometimes nothing – our ‘choices’ are deeply correct and the unexpressed material finds an easy place to rest, release, or move on.

But some of this material gets suppressed, relegated to the shadows, creating difficulties by manifesting in incongruent and confusing communication, conflicts, depressions, somatic expressions, grief, and all kinds of seemingly unexplained feelings and behavioral patterns.

There’s no need for blame or judgment about this, it’s a human characteristic — it goes with the territory.

However, as most indigenous cultures have known as well as modern-day depth psychology, there is a way of becoming more conscious of this ‘split off’ material and learning to relate to it more wisely…

– David Bedrick, By Exploring Our Nighttime Dreams.

Reduce intellectual and emotional noise
until you arrive at the silence of yourself
and listen to it.
– Richard Brautigan

In the past, jobs were about muscles, now they’re about brains, but in the future, they’ll be about the heart.
– Dame Minouche Shafik, the Director of the London School of Economics


Not knowing how to approach
Intimacy, for understood reasons
Doesn’t make those reasons
Easily understood, or applied

The nature of who I am, not contained
By what I’ve been or done
Has not been whittled away
By what has not occurred

This being, more than a way of being
Is more than a way of waiting
For another being. Being
Not waiting for time while making it

Evolves the uncontained
Through every containment

– George Gorman

There are such things as ghosts.
People everywhere have always known that.
And we believe in them every bit
as much as Homer did.
Only now, we call them by different names.
Memory. The unconscious.
– Donna Tartt, The Secret History

Sunaksatra… according to some sources was the Buddha’s half-brother and personal attendant prior to that position being held by Ananda. Despite his personal connection to the Buddha and his extensive knowledge of his teachings, Sunaksatra had no respect for the Buddha, saying that in his twenty-four years of service to him, he saw no difference whatsoever between the Buddha and himself apart from the fact that the Buddha had a six-foot aura.
– Robert Buswell Jr. & Donald Lopez Jr., The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism

Turning words into art is unnatural. It begins with a contrary attitude. It says, I am unhappy with the way things are and desire to make things different. Rather than represent the world, I will make something wildly and savagely new. I will defy logic. I will invest in new perceptions. I will combine and recombine and fabricate and juggle until something that I have never experienced is experienced. The process is alchemical. The process is violent. It goes to the heart of creativity. It disrupts and shatters. It is splendid with provocation. It is an aggression against banality. It is sharp and loud like a janitor scraping frost from a window. The hectic bounce of steam on a street after a truck roars by. The anarchy of waters, the comedy of the face, dangerous feelings vented from a cage of skin.
– John Olson

This is not the time for illusion or evasion; it is time for transformation.
– David Orr

this is where the gods who’ve never been born live
– Iván Argüelles

they sit around and argue about
the various benefits and limitations
of Christianity, Buddhism,
Islam, Judaism, others.
they are ready to jump into skin
and dazzle the believers of any
of them as a new manifestation
of the divine, the new “thing”
as it were
but they are never given the nod
and so they spend eternity
talking, playing video games,
writing out complex commandments
that no one will ever see.
there is no Moses for them to communicate with
no Mary to impregnate
just the other boring immortals
hanging around the sports events
and the movie theaters
and writing poems and songs
in unknown languages
and unplayable scales
works that have no syntax
no meaning
no practitioners
only the endless, moving presence
of a consciousness
which cannot make up its mind
to allow them to be.
– Jack Foley

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present , nor things to come ,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
– Romans 8:38

The Five Days Remaining
by Hafez

The goods produced in the factories of space and time
Are not all that great. Bring some wine,
Because the desirables of this world are not all that great.

Heart and soul are born for ecstatic conversation
With the soul of souls. That’s it. If that fails,
Heart and soul are not in the end that great.

Don’t become indebted to the Tuba and Sidra trees
Just to have some shade in heaven. When you look closely,
My flowering cypress friend, you’ll see that these trees are not all
that great.

The true kingdom comes to you without any breaking
Of bones. If that weren’t so, achieving the Garden
Through your own labors wouldn’t be all that great.

In the five days remaining to you in this rest stop
Before you go to the grave, take it easy, give
Yourself time, because time is not all that great.

You who offer wine, we are waiting on the lip
Of the ocean of ruin. Take this moment as a gift; for the distance
Between the lip and the mouth is not all that great.

The state of my being – miserable and burnt
To a crisp – is proof enough that my need
To put it into words is not all that great.

You ascetic on the cold stone, you are not safe
From the tricks of God’s zeal: the distance between the cloister
And the Zorastrian tavern is not after all that great.

The name Hafez has been well inscribed in the books,
But in our clan of disreputables, the difference
Between profit and loss is not all that great.

-Translation by Robert Bly

These days, a big part of the appeal of the conservative movement is the transgressive thrill of being a jerk, of being cruel, of mocking people and deriding them when they are in pain, or suffering, or having a problem.

Everyone in life encounters people who are jerks; it’s part of life… That is one thing. Elevating that—being a jerk, being cruel—into a defining feature of one’s political movement is another thing altogether.
– Chris Hayes

To those without a collective consciousness, every pro-social act is viewed as “performative”—because for them it would be. They have no cognitive framework to understand anything beyond their own self-interest.
– Subversive Lens

When they die we change our minds
about them. While they live we see
the plenty hard they’re trying,
to be a star, or nice, or wise,
and so we do not quite believe them.

When they die, suddenly they are
what they claimed. Turns out,
that’s what one of those looks like.

The cold war over manner of manly
or mission is over. Same person,
same facts and acts, just now
a quiet brain stem. We no longer
begrudge his or her stupid luck.

When they die we change our minds
about them. I will try to believe
while you yet breathe.
– Jennifer Michael Hecht

Let us simmer over our incalculable cauldron, our enthralling confusion, our hotch-potch of impulses, our perpetual miracle — for the soul throws up wonders every second. Movement and change are the essence of our being; rigidity is death; conformity is death: let us say what comes into our heads, repeat ourselves, contradict ourselves, fling out the wildest nonsense, and follow the most fantastic fancies without caring what the world does or thinks or says. For nothing matters except life.
– Virginia Woolf

Difficulty itself may be a path toward concentration — expended effort weaves us into a task […]. Difficulty, whether of life or of craft, is not a hindrance to an artist. Sartre called genius “not a gift, but the way a person invents in desperate circumstances.” Just as geological pressure transforms ocean sediment into limestone, the pressure of an artist’s concentration goes into the making of any fully realized work.

Much of beauty, both in art and in life, is a balancing of the lines of forward-flowing desire with those of resistance — a gnarled tree, the flow of a statue’s draped cloth. Through such tensions, physical or mental, the world in which we exist becomes itself. Great art, we might say, is thought that has been concentrated in just this way: honed and shaped by a silky attention brought to bear on the recalcitrant matter of earth and of life.
– Jane Hirshfield

憂鬱 (yuutsu) is a word that requires a metaphorical definition, even in Japanese. The [dictionary] defines it as “気持ちがふさいで、晴れないこと,” or “the sensation that your feelings/emotions are blocked, and cannot break into sun,” invoking a persistently clouded sky to further illustrate the sensation. Other sources describe it as melancholy, gloominess, depression, a dampness of the soul. Broken down into parts, the first character, 憂 (yuu) is used to describe something sad, or difficult. The second character, 鬱 (utsu), has a wider range of meaning, stretching from blocked, smelling badly, to steaming (specifically, the kind of steaming in a hot room where air cannot freely move). When the character for utsu is added to a second character, 病, meaning illness, we get the word most commonly used nowadays to refer to clinical depression: 鬱病 (utsubyou), which literally translated becomes “blocked sickness.” […]

Recently, I learned that there exists another very uncommon “spelling” of yuutsu: 幽鬱. The second character is still utsu, the kanji that is used to denote depression and means “to block.” But the first character is no longer 憂, meaning sad or difficult, but 幽, meaning spirit or soul (frequently used to describe ghosts). Yuutsu retains the same meaning even with this spelling: an amalgam feeling of sadness, anxiety, bitterness, nostalgia, and discontent. But this alternate spelling with its use of 幽 creates a more specific implication, chalking up the emotion to a blocked or stifled spirit.

These days, I don’t see a therapist but I’ve noticed that lately I feel a certain heaviness again, as if a slow suffocation of spirit. I feel doubtful of my writing, of my claim to writing, of my claim to myself and identity. […] I am doubtful and discouraged more often than I am not. I see yuutsu edging in on my emotional periphery. And yet, in the midst of all this, the concept of manifold depression as one’s spirit getting stuck somewhere is heartening to me, somehow. It implies that, at some point, there is release. It speaks to the particular way that I feel this sadness: a heaviness of spirit, cloaking me so that the only thing to do is to wait until I can outrun the weight, setting the ghost of myself free.

– Nina Li Coomes

My job is to create better humans and to give them the tools that will allow them to be the better humans they are meant to be.
– Jack Morgan

Janus Interruptus
At some point,
you have to stop looking back.
You have to stop drinking
the poison of regret.
That slow toxin of ‘what if’s’
and ‘what might have been’
will turn your heart sour
your tongue to ash
and your feet to stone.
When next you lift
the Chalice of Regret
to your lips, stop.
Stop right there,
turn around, and declare:
With a stag’s grace,
I turn my face toward the direction of vision and new life.
I invite the honey-sweet song
of the morning lark back into my heart.
I let go of regret
and allow the past
to be a songline
that continues on without me.
– Hawk Owen

Paraphrasing John Chester:
When you have no idea what to do, cultivate beauty.

Within this tree
another tree
inhabits the same body;
within this stone
another stone rests,
its many shades of grey
the same,
its identical
surface and weight.
And within my body,
another body,
whose history, waiting,
sings; there is no other body,
it sings,
there is no other world.
– Jane Hirshfield

In the beginning was the dream. In the eternal night where no dawn broke, the dream deepened. Before anything ever was, it had to be dreamed. Everything had its beginning in possibility. Every single thing is somehow the expression and incarnation of a thought. If a thing had never been thought, it could never be. If we take Nature as the great artist of longing then all presences in the world have emerged from her mind and imagination. We are children of the earth’s dreaming. When you compare the silent, under-night of Nature with the detached and intimate intensity of the person, it is almost as if Nature is in dream and we are her children who have broken through the dawn into time and place. Fashioned in the dreaming of the clay, we are always somehow haunted by that; we are unable ever finally to decide what is dream and what is reality. Each day we live in what we call reality. Yet the more we think about it, the more life seems to resemble a dream. We rush through our days in such stress and intensity, as if we were here to stay and the serious project of the world depended on us. We worry and grow anxious; we magnify trivia until they become important enough to control our lives. Yet all the time, we have forgotten that we are but temporary sojourners on the surface of a strange planet spinning slowly in the infinite night of the cosmos. There is no protective zone around any of us. Anything can happen to anyone at any time. There is no definitive dividing line between reality and dream. What we consider real is often precariously dreamlike. One of the linguistic philosophers said that there is no evidence that could be employed to disprove this claim: The world only came into existence ten minutes ago complete with all our memories. Any evidence you could proffer could still be accounted for by the claim. Because our grip on reality is tenuous, every heart is infused with the dream of belonging.
– John O’Donohue

I was sent here for a reason I have not yet been able to fathom.
I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive.
– Henry Miller

We cripple ourselves by only gazing from within our caves of reflection. If we would see with the eyes of freedom, we must be as open and as unceasing as the Sea.
– Susie Motz

What a searcher searches for is like riding the oxen in search of the oxen.

It is not the flag moving, it is not the wind moving, it is your mind moving.

Wind, flag, mind, movement…

– Nichols Pierotti

Pursue not the outer entanglements; Dwell not in the inner void; Be serene in the oneness of things; And dualism vanishes by itself.
– Sengcan

No term could define Pere Teilhard’s philosophy more exactly nor provide a more precise point for comparison than the expression ‘Universal History’ which, when used in Bossuet’s sense, becomes an extension of Sacred History.
– F. G. Elliot

You’re Already Woven-In

“When you bow deeply to the universe, it bows back.The divine is not something high above us. It is in heaven, it is in earth, it is inside us.”
Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), Founder of Aikido

In these heavy times,
your Flowing-Cloud-Self
asks you to remember:

There is no weight
that can weigh you down.

In these times
of cutting and scarring,
slicing and scoring,
your Great-Ocean-of-Being-Self
asks you to remember:

There is no blemish or mark
being held against you.

In this time of chaos and upheaval,
uncertainty and change,
your luminous, light-as-a-feather
Heron-of-New-Horizons-Self says:

Rest assured
in your new
flightpath coordinates.

The vast sky swelled larger tonight
and willingly holds
all that you are and will be.

Forget the ‘love-naysayers’;
they’re just afraid
they won’t “make it to Heaven.”

They don’t realize
they’re already woven-in
already woven-in
by their own star-marked cells
simply from Being Here.

They don’t realize
they’re already woven-in
already woven-in
by an invisible love
they simply haven’t
come to know yet.

Love who and what you love,
says the Great Radiant Sun above,
just as her beams of love-light
permeate us all.

Love who and what you love
like brave young girls
declaring their crushes
to other young girls.

Love who and what you love
like prayers of long-gone ancestors;
but ever-watchful,
for those coming along.

Love who and what you love
like the glorious dance
of mountains, rivers, stardust,
trees in the wind;
like hummingbirds, penguins, whales — all on pilgrimage.

Love is a way-within-The Way.
Love is a gate.
Love is a Great Sun Gate
waiting for every
star-flung traveler
to step through.

Love who and what you love,…
but start with yourself.

You’re already woven-in.
You’re already woven-in.

– Hawk Owen

Buddhist thought originates in an unusual experience of the sorrows of time. No abiding reality is here, no lasting peace, no fit condition for human life. The first and final wisdom is to recognize the insubstantial nature of all things. All is caught in an endless cycle of change. There is only the coming to be of things and their passing away. Birth and death implicate each other. Nowhere else has the tragic aspect of human life formed the central theme of so vast a tradition of spiritual and philosophical thought.

– Thomas Berry

The Peruvians have a helpful notion in this department. *Ayni* (eye,nee) – sacred reciprocity. Anything created, transmitted, served, offered, provided, takes some measure of effort and energy. If we are on the receiving end of said creation, transmission, service, offering and have found value in it, according to this principle deeply-embedded within their culture (and most indigenous cultures I imagine), the onus is on us to participate in a sacred exchange of energy. I feel this applies to spiritual insights as well, so I disagree with the comment above. Several authors I respect have delved very deep in their own journey, have traveled through Shadow, simmered hard-won truths into nectars, and stepped-down energies into working maps that have been of immense service and support to me, from Michael Meade and James Hollis to Elaine Aron and Marion Woodman. I am more than happy to participate in the exchange of money for their spiritual insights.

Where all of this can go sideways is when obsession, grasping, and greed taints the pure exchange, but seeing money as part of a form of sacred energy exchange is liberating to me, not one that muddies the water.

– Frank Owen

Your Questions About Money are Often About Your Integrity

Intimately tied into the question of “Who am I to teach?” is the often unspoken ending to that sentence “. . . and get paid for it?”

It can feel very strange to many of us, this notion of being paid to do something we love that’s bringing healing to the world. There can be a guilt associated with it and this urge to just give it away for free.

We are in a strange place in this culture.

No one bats an eye at people taking jobs in industries that are destroying the world (e.g. mining, industrial forestry, fossil fuels), but when people try to make money doing something good? We suddenly feel strange about accepting money for it. Surely, if anything it should be the opposite. It’s something to wonder about.

And again, when people bring up these issues I want to worship at their feet for a while, because these concerns don’t come out of nowhere. They often have roots founded in a concern about the direction of the larger economy – both where it came from and where it’s going. As people learn more about what’s happening in the world, it’s the most natural thing to have questions about money emerge. What is money?

Where did it come from? For what kind of work should I accept it, and for what kind of work should I refuse it?

And if you work in the healing arts, this becomes an even more pressing question, as people will start bringing many things to your door to question you about making money. They’ll point out that traditional medicine people in most indigenous cultures almost never take money for their ceremonies or healings, so how on earth can you? Aren’t you just participating in the commodification of something that should never be commodified?

When I see people wrestling with this, I want to hug them and thank them for being willing to engage and grapple with something for which there are no easy answers. I want to praise the deep integrity of their political and spiritual landscape. I want to urge them to keep following those threads. Nowhere in me is there an urge to “fix” anything. I have no desire at all to do anything other than hold those people’s feet even closer to the fire so they can really feel the burn of consequence and so that anything that might be out of alignment in them can become known and felt.

Many of my colleagues would see all of this as a set of disempowering beliefs, but frankly, I think a lot of their beliefs about money are deeply toxic. I think the willingness to wrestle with these issues is, itself, a noble endeavour that deserves to be applauded. It’s a rare thing in this culture to associate anything with money other than desperation and entitlement.

I’ve been broke before (and I didn’t care) because I’d decided to spend my time enjoying my life and doing volunteer work in my community.

There’s nothing less spiritual about that. But there’s also nothing particularly spiritual about being broke and not being able to take care of yourself, and therefore being a burden on others.

Having said all of that, a few thoughts do occur to me that I offer on the off chance they might have some use to someone.

We no longer live in a tribal set-up. Were you to have been a healer in that set-up, your needs would have been met. You would have been taken care of by the village. That is no longer the case today. We no longer have a village, so we need to do something different.
And it’s worth noting that you do not need to make an income from healing. You could work a job and also do your healing work. That is an absolutely legitimate and beautiful model. You can be a healer without making a business out of it.

Offering your gifts to the world? Non-negotiable. That’s a mandatory part of being a human being. Making it a business and charging for it? Entirely optional.

– Tad Hargraves

Field Theology

As a palm tree knows its role to play
and doesn’t wait for the pine to assign it,
as a seabird plots its lonely way,
whether or not the wind is behind it,

as a songbird follows no other’s lead
in the elegant nonchalance of its singing,
and the fruit that grows on the mango doesn’t
worry what the plum or the orange is bringing,

just as such freedom fighters all
have taught for countless, ungoverned seasons
to follow the lead of a spirit call
or an inexplicable heartfelt reason,

so it’s really as clear as a quiet sea
that the mystery comes nearest to those
as playful as dolphins who spin as they leap
and as wild as the flash of a hummingbird’s throat.

– George Gorman

Now I’ve jumped

Off a cliff with no hope or fear.
Falling seems natural and free
The ground is so far from here.
And the groundlessness never left.

just a fly on guru rinpoche’s foot,
may yet become rainbow light…

– Aric Parker

It is not enough to be a saint. That was the Piscean age. In the age of
Aquarius you have to make everybody you touch, see and feel be a saint.
You become the forklift.
– Yogi Bhajan

Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.
– Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Doubt is a Part of the Creative Process

“Is minig a bha claidheamh math an droch thrill.”
(Good sword has often been in poor scabbard.)
– Scottish Gaelic Proverb

Doubt is unavoidable.

It’s a part of the creative process. Although, it’s rarely self-doubt. It’s more often imagining other people’s doubts about us and then reacting to those imaginings.

We ask ourselves, “What would others say about this?” We often ask them. But, of course, they’re not us. They don’t see things the way we do.

I’ve performed improv comedy since 1992, and during this time I had a few years where my improv was terrible. I couldn’t do a good scene to save my life. And of course, the worse I did, the more and more my self-doubt grew. The more my self-doubt grew, the worse my improv became. Eventually I got out of the funk.

It wasn’t until years later when I was able to look back and see what had happened.

Instead of jumping into scenes with my ideas, I was second guessing everything and turning to my teammates on the bench to say, “Do you think I should do this or not?” But by the time they heard my idea, processed it, and replied, the moment was gone.

I would have learned faster by just acting on my ideas. Many of them would have been terrible, but I would have learned from that.

But that’s not how it went for me. And it’s not how it goes for most of us. We have ideas and we doubt them. We make things and we doubt they’re any good.

And sometimes we’re right. It’s not that good. Sometimes those doubts are accurate assessments of the poor quality of something we’ve made. But that doesn’t mean we should stop making things. It doesn’t mean we should stop trying. If anything, it means we should keep trying. We should get off the bench and jump into as many scenes as possible. We should keep writing every day. We should keep making things and learn from the doing, knowing that doubts will be there all along the way.

Doubt doesn’t mean “stop.” Doubt means “keep learning.”

Ira Glass said it perfectly:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

Doubt is a part of the creative process.

– Tad Hargraves

So we must continue to march when necessary. Our marching feet have caused thick walls of segregation to crumble before the battering rams of the forces of justice. Our marching feet have resurrected crucified truth and placed bright-eyed wisdom back on her sacred throne. Our marching has taken wounded justice, lying prostrate on the streets of our cities, and lifted it from this dust of shame to reign supreme in the legislative annals of our nation. Yes, our marching feet have carved tunnels of hope through the dark mountain of despair.
– Martin Luther King Jr.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by personal guilt for the collective failures of a world on the brink of catastrophe, you’re not alone.

That’s actually the whole point.

None of us created this as individuals, and none of us are going to solve it that way, either.
– Ethan Nichtern

My apologies to time for all the world I overlook each second.
– Wislawa Szymborska

The number of (mostly white, mostly male) leaders who are spiritually and psychology unwell makes me think if we could just get a few more moderately dysfunctional people who are simply *trying to help people* into leadership roles, we’d be living in a damn paradise.
– Ethan Nichtern

We need to end the era of disembodied philosophy.

If everybody who agrees with your abstract philosophy looks like you and comes from the same social location as you, that needs to be taken into account when discussing your ideas.
– Ethan Nichtern

Even those of us with great spiritual wisdom and psychological development need to break down and get help sometimes.

There’s no weakness in this, just vulnerability.

Making yourself vulnerable enough to ask for help is one of the most enlightened things you can do.
– Ethan Nichtern

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by personal guilt for the collective failures of a world on the brink of catastrophe, you’re not alone.

That’s actually the whole point.

None of us created this as individuals, and none of us are going to solve it that way, either.
– Ethan Nichtern

Opposites can be united only in the form of compromise, or irrationally, some new thing arising between them which, though different from both, yet has the power to take up their energies in equal measure as an expression of both and of neither.
– CG Jung

This sort of simultaneous awareness that there’s nothing that really matters to us more than literature, and at the same time there’s nothing that matters less on this sad, lonely planet than literature.
– Nell Zink

We should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems, and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have the right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.
– Einstein

You can’t dig stuff out of the Earth’s crust to save yourself from problems created by digging stuff out of the Earth’s crust.
– Dr. Elizabeth Sawin

You must believe in yourself and your talents. Enough people will come along and try to stamp you out. Be on your own side. Don’t help them.
– Leah J Callen

It’s not that I was smoking hot when I was younger, it’s just that I could still remember details from books I’d read hours before.
– Maris Kreizman

Working with sentient beings is dirty work.
– Reggie Ray on the Bodhisattva Vow

In a stable world, it’s best to be data-driven. In a changing world, it’s better to be data-informed.

Data can reveal patterns from the past. It takes judgment to predict how those patterns will evolve in the future.

Data shouldn’t guide decisions. They should inform decisions.
– Adam Grant

as the moon
recedes in the west
purple dawn
– Mansei

Poetry does not live solely in books or in school anthologies.
– Eugenio Montale

misty rain
hibiscus sky
summer weather
– Basho

Each man is a hero and an oracle to somebody.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

I don’t think we can even pretend that we are on the edge of a civilized dialogue until we grant that people’s minds – like their bodies – must be a domain free from government control.
– Terence McKenna

Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
– Christian D. Larson

Each of us is several, is many, is a profusion of selves. So that the self who disdains his surroundings is not the same as the self who suffers or takes joy in them. In the vast colony of our being there are many species of people who think and feel in different ways.
– Pessoa

You saved me, you should remember me.
– Louise Glück

The hallmark of a productive debate is not persuasion, but insight.

In a good argument, you’re as motivated to learn as to convince.

You can declare victory when everyone involved has deepened their understanding, broadened their knowledge, or evolved their thinking.
– Adam Grant

Some of us are being called into the deepest silence we have ever experienced.
– @Maryamhasnaa

Human nature is wise beyond words. Underestimating or even doubting instinct, intuition, body wisdom & that which cannot be intellectualized or measured by current-day tools/methods only limits us. Honouring (our+all) nature helps us learn, grow and expand our mind, heart & soul.
– @IAmMyBestToday

Happiness does not await us all. One needn’t be a prophet to say that there will be more grief and pain than serenity and money. That is why we must hang on to one another.
– Anton Chekhov

There is a place in Skagen, Denmark where two seas meet, and the sky is soft. Once I watched a friend swim there with the seals. It’s dangerous, though. One helluva rip-tide.
– Ren Powell

Don’t let anyone
market your innocence
and sell it back to you
as a spiritual technique.
Just blow mantra bubbles
like a baby
and suck in distant galaxies
through your bellybutton.
In an instant
your intellect will fall
through light-years of surrender
into the starry darkness
of your heart.
Rest in the answer,
the silence before
the question arises.
Thousands of years ago,
Ashtavakra said,
“Layam vraja: dissolve now!”
Why not return
to the groundless space
where God has not yet said,
“Let there be light,”
where Being has not yet
been distracted by
the thought, “I Am”?
Welcome Om
to the uncreated beauty
you already Are.
– Fred LaMotte

One of my long-time students, a Colombian native, shared this with me recently:

If you asked me what meditation practice would be the ‘best’ to introduce people from culturas latinoamericanas to meditation, I would say social meditation.
– Vince Horn

In the same way that there is nothing to the vibration of a guitar string other than the string itself, ultimately there is nothing to experience – and therefore to existence – other than the void that vibrates.

So everything is a void or, as Adyashanti brilliantly put it, ’emptiness dancing.’ Existence is but a disturbance of the void and, thus, fundamentally empty. At the same time, obviously existence is not empty: just look around!”
– Bernardo Kastrup, Why Materialism Is Baloney

Humility is not the same as self-humiliation. Rather, it points to a secure sense of self, self-dignity, and so being able to draw the focus away from the self. By consciously ‘offering’ dignity to everyone around (even to those whom we might feel do not deserve it), we cut through the vertical conceptions of humanity that are so intertwined with mechanisms of violence and scapegoating. We sacrifice our self-preserving tendencies, our habitual patterns tied to our fears of being too vulnerable and powerless…these tendencies run deep and the risk of being vulnerable is real, but letting go of them leads to a transformation in the direction of a truer sense of autonomy, another
way of ‘being’ and a different kind of power. This dynamic of sacrificing the self for the shared dignity of all people, bringing integrative power to the surface, is captured in alay dangal (active non-violence), that is to say, creating an example of nonviolence as a life stance in which tapasya, an attitude of humility, sacrificing the desire-self, and offering dignity (and the study of how to do this) are central.
– Saskia L. E. van Goelst Meijer

I’ve observed that I have an instantaneous negative reaction to black and white thinking in early childhood pedagogy. So much so that I will take ideas I resonate with to task when they are presented as THE correct way. It really bothers me. My need for authenticity and kindness really come up. Authenticity, because I haven’t found any method that is meritless, and as soon as it’s an all-or-nothing proposition, creativity, spontaneity and aliveness are reduced. It also feels unfriendly to me, as it separates us from them. Same with styles of discipline and classroom management. The pendulum swings, and we scoff at old methods, but in my experience, every method (within reason), has something useful, even optimal, when used at the right time, in the right place/circumstance.
– Honor Finnegan

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
– Douglas Adams

But someone I know is dying –
And though one might say glibly, “everyone is,”
The different pace makes the difference absolute.

The tiny invisible spores in the air we breathe,
That settle harmlessly on our drinking water
And on our skin, happen to come together

With certain conditions on the forest floor,
Or even a shady corner of the lawn –
And overnight the flashy, pale stalks gather,

The colorless growth without a leaf or flower;
And around the stalks, the summer grass keeps growing
With steady pressure, like the insistent whiskers

That grow between shaves on a face, the nails
Growing and dying from the toes and fingers
At their own humble pace, oblivious

As the nerveless moths, that live their night or two –
Though like a moth a bright soul keeps on beating,
Bored and impatient in the monster’s mouth.
– Robert Pinsky

When you place your hand in moving water, you will feel the curves of power looping your bones, addressing your skin with logarithmic sways. Magnify that ten or twenty thousand times and you will be killed by the force. Then your body will know…. But pay attention in that moment and you will feel the intelligence of water upon you. It will tell stories of itself against your body in boils and surges and vacancies.
– Craig Childs, The Secret Knowledge of Water

The idea of the fulfilled life no longer supposes a “higher life” waiting for us after death, but rather consists in realizing as many options as possible from the vast possibilities the world has to offer. To taste life in all its heights and depths and in its full complexity becomes a central aspiration of modern man. But, as it turns out, the world always seems to have more to offer than can be experienced in a single lifetime. Acceleration of the pace of life appears to be a natural solution to this problem: if we live twice as fast, if we take only half the time to realize an action, goal, or experience, we can double what we can do within our lifetime. Our “efficacy,” the proportion of realized options to potentially realizable options, doubles.

However, due to the self-propelling dynamic of the acceleration cycle, the promise of acceleration never is fulfilled, for the very same techniques, methods, and inventions that allow for an accelerated realization of options simultaneously increase the number of options at an exponential rate. For example, the Internet not only speeds up information and communication, it also opens up wholly new domains of exchange, service, communication, and entertainment. Hence, whenever we surf the Net, we could potentially surf hundreds and thousands of other sites that might even better serve our purposes. The same holds true for cable TV: whereas thirty years ago we missed only two or three other programs by watching one channel, we now miss hundreds.

As a consequence, our “share of the world”, the proportion of realized world options from potentially realizable ones, decreases, no matter how much we increase the pace of life. And this is the cultural explanation for the paradoxical phenomenon of simultaneous technological acceleration and increasing time scarcity.

– Hartmut Rosa, High-Speed Society: Social Acceleration, Power, and Modernity

Perhaps they have been living there inside the sun since the universe was born, and have climbed to peaks of wisdom that we shall never scale. One day they may discover us, by whatever strange senses they possess, as we circle around their mighty, ancient home, proud of our knowledge and thinking ourselves lords of creation. They may not like what they find, for to them we should be no more than maggots, crawling upon the skins of worlds too cold to cleanse themselves from the corruption of organic life. […] The sun will put forth its strength and lick the faces of its children; and thereafter the planets will go their way once more as they were in the beginning—clean and bright… and sterile.
– Arthur C. Clarke, Out of the Sun

Some days I’m awake all night
and then lay sleepy in bed the whole next morning

You might think I need a fix
a supplement, a correction of some kind

but I’m too busy lov’n who I am

– David Bedrick

Selfishness is America’s Second Deadly Virus.

– John Pavlovitz

There are places where your feet just know the way.
Every step a little closer – sometimes a rock,
sometimes the moon.

Remembering how good it feels
when someone calls out to you
like ringing a bell with your name,
you think about the many kinds of recognition
that make a moment count.
The many kinds of paths it takes
to make a heart a home.

Every path sings, even a highway
not made by feet and at war with space and time.
But the paths your own steps have made
between your place and a neighbor’s,
obeying the strict meanders of time
and the backflowing rivers of memory,
can lead as far as what you are:

Sometimes a stick,
sometimes a flower.

– George Gorman

To have written the story, start-to-finish, completing it. Every last line. It was a scouting mission, a blazed trail, the first entry into an unknown realm of otherness, a singular occupation of strange embodiments. The cast emerging, each member cut from the rock, sculpted from the inside out, any of which could become the primary reason for the telling of it, the story, and the taking of it, the trail left behind.
– James Scott Smith

There’s always a lot of magic, but our way of seeing it is very small and we mostly just call it Nature. Why, we are not at all surprised that we can pick up an apple in autumn that was a pink flower in the spring. That’s natural magic and we don’t really notice it.
– Pat O’Shea

Children understand that ‘once upon a time’ refers not only – not even primarily – to the past, but to the impalpable regions of the present, the deeper places inside us where princes and dragons, wizards and talking birds, impassable roads, impossible tasks, and happy endings have always existed, alive and bursting with psychic power.
– Stephen Mitchell

Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies – God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.
– Kurt Vonnegut

Oh, I said, this is going to be.
And it was.
Oh, I said, this will never happen.
But it did.
And a purple fog descended upon the land.
The roots of trees curled up.
The world was divided into two countries.
Every photograph taken in the first was of people.
Every photograph taken in the second showed none.
All of the girl children were named And.
All of the boy children named Then.
– Mary Ruefle

Last night we ended up on the couch
trying to remember
all of the friends who had died so far,

So many of them had been swept away
as if by a hand from the sky,
it was good to recall them,
I was thinking
under the cold lights of a supermarket
as I guided a cart with a wobbly wheel
up and down the long strident aisles.

I was on the lookout for blueberries,
English muffins, linguini, heavy cream,
light bulbs, apples, Canadian bacon,
and whatever else was on the list,
which I managed to keep grocery side up,

until I had passed through the electric doors,
where I stopped to realize,
as I turned the list over,
that I had forgotten Terry O’Shea
as well as the bananas and the bread.

It was pouring by then,
spilling, as they say in Ireland,
people splashing across the lot to their cars.
And that is when I set out,
walking slowly and precisely,
a soaking-wet man
bearing bags of groceries,
walking as if in a procession honoring the dead.

I felt I owed this to Terry,
who was such a strong painter,
for almost forgetting him
and to all the others who had formed
a circle around him on the screen in my head.

I was walking more slowly now
in the presence of the compassion
the dead were extending to a comrade,

plus I was in no hurry to return
to the kitchen, where I would have to tell you
all about Terry and the bananas and the bread.
– Billy Collins

When we don’t have direction in our life, then all of the outer things become very important. Then we try to get those things to fulfill some kind of emptiness within ourselves. But when we do have a direction to grow ourselves in this way, those outer things are less important. With this approach, we can appreciate how a simple life can be a much more dignified life than a more luxurious and complicated one.
– Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

There are two sentiments loose in the world and you’re going to not get through this life without taking sides. Do you believe that our destiny is in another dimension made of light on the other side of the Universe? Or do you believe that we should clean up the rainforests and save the planet?

– Terence McKenna


Last night, I lived in some overcast city, drove into the parking garage first, nearby spaces I chose between, and took, the widest, near a fast white car, parked… and there I was … in a wide-windowed, corner top unit, in some downtown, balcony overlooking cement flat slab and wide, other people’s roof, at the edge of this building. My balcony—was not deep… but long… along the full side of my place…. not sure if the railing was black— or emerald green, rich deep brick red, like the exterior of this place… but the landing was long, overlooking the city— not quite a birdseye view, not 20th or 25th floor, but maybe 3rd or 5th, I could see, not the whole church across from me, just the seemingly Catholic dome, the all of it, and it was large, and just a reach or two in front of me, just beyond the wide and long cement landing right below me, there it was, an oxidized green, a metronomic, graceful, intricate pleating along the dome, and the point of it at center … I was showing a real life friend … who I haven’t seen, in so long— in the dream, we were happy, and she was happy for me, and beaming, and wowing … at the place … the windows bringing in the sky … the blue grey dusky, opaque of it, not gloomy, but comforting… and the windows wider than long … on each of two sides, also multi-paned, only at the edges, what framing can bring … how beautiful the world

I took her out my back door, to show her the sky, the view, at the end of day, the end of light, the door and screen door, the same color as the window panes, that green, the color of the oxidized metal church roof across from me … and the bells began ringing… I said, smiling, and slow wind in our hair, the bells… the bells <3 What a rich sounding ... I hear them, now, still, though awake... such a real place ... overlooking a church's dome, just past the flat cement slab that could fit 300 people ... there, so near---the church: the dome, the spire, the sky. Painted blue grey, sea of sky ... not quite lilac ... no, not lilac at all ... a comforting endless billow of blue grey, the color of sky before rain, and at the lower line of it... and all the way across, a gentle--- but luminous pink ... an underline, luminous--- but subtle, the falling sun hidden, behind a wall of cloud... and shrieking this subtle neonlike light
And it felt like weather for making tea

Me and my friend, of a million years, just out my back door and paned screen, that same sage green, we opened the door, into the night, on this long patio, the spread of wide slab just below—and beyond us, the ringing bells, of the domed church, full… an alto, a contralto, just short of mezzo soprano … not high, and tinny, but a full throated ringing, that resonated, after each tolling, in our receiving ears, into the wide and welcoming sky, the near-cool air of an early autumn, at this magical place, inside a city.
– Marian Haddad

Liberation comes not by believing in the right set of tenets or of dogmatic assertions, or even necessarily by behaving in the right way. It’s insight, it’s wisdom, it’s knowing the nature of reality. It is only truth that will make us free.
– Interview with B. Alan Wallace by James Shaheen, What Is True Happiness?

Don’t bother to associate poets with saints
Or extraordinary beings. People like us have already
Hired someone to weep for our parents.
– Robert Bly

Perfection is inhuman. Human beings are not perfect. What evokes our love — and I mean love, not lust — is the imperfection of the human being. So, when the imperfection of the real person, compared to the ideal of your animus or anima, peaks through, say, This is a challenge to my compassion. Then make a try, and something might begin to get going here.
– Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss

For fifteen years I’ve embraced and tried to cultivate a spirituality of imperfection—one that does not overly invest mental/emotional energy towards a hope and expectation that if I think or do just the right thing I will be saved through transcendence from this body, this life, this world, these emotions, feelings, and relationships — with the hope of a just reward for my spiritual heroics and mental hygiene. It is a humanizing effort of sobriety of mind while making room for muddy thoughts. It is a human need for calm equanimity while making room for the storms and ecstasies of Dionysius and the pathos of Eros. I am beholden to recognize my inner child needs co-parenting (by my adult self) while my literal flesh and bones child needs a ‘good enough’ father who moves onwards best as he can despite his shortcomings.

There’s no idyllic trouble-free place I need to travel towards in order to arrive at perfection — the journey is the simple act of living in this fallible body with this astounding gift of life, in and of this beautiful and ugly world, with these poignant and fiery emotions, thoughts, feelings, and relationships. This does not mean that I don’t have hopes, passions, aspirations, or desires to assuage life’s travails — rather it is an exercise of whole-being maturation: checking for and working against the seductive (American) pull toward naivety (puerile victimization) while maintaining a modicum of vitalizing innocence, and softening and chipping off the calcifications of cynicism that time and culture deposit in my psyche. \

My spirituality of imperfection is a quest of individuation—riddled with bumps, cracks, blind spots, injustices, suffering, grief and traps — but this is also an alchemical journey where I, the first-person host, takes in all of it (failures and mistakes) into a crucible of transformation cooking this vital stuff of life, looking for what’s precious in value while burning off the dross.
The alchemical Outcome is the shining Golden Heart:
Love, joy, beauty, gratitude, empathy, mirth, imagination, awe, and compassion

And when the experiment fails,
as it must,
I clean up and start again
— always, we begin again

– Andrew Kent Hagel

Aim to be as plain and simple as Nature; simplicity is its life. We need to completely remove our complexities to arrive at a state of harmony with Nature.
– Babuji

The mystery of all happiness lies in the steadying and settling down of the activity of the mind.
– Lalaji

Mystics convey metaphors for which no concepts are possible in language that seems more like enrapturing erotica or brazen heresy than approved theology. Many had to write commentaries in order to survive. As a young mystic, I often made efforts to communicate. However, each can only understand depending on the perspective seen from where they are standing. That’s why I don’t bother translating, as each must catch the arrow in flight.
– Rosamonde Ikshváku Miller, 2021

Infirmary 3

Nature is no garden
It is a bright hell where things eat each other
The numinous only visible in the divine perception
And yet Hail to the red goddess of June!
And the dark destroyer of October!
Let us worship the faun and the scorpion
The innocence of white
The potent black of the sting

Nature is veritable orgie
A fuckfest
A rape of ideals
A riot of seed
A fury of ice
A whirlpool of fire
Eternally tilting, dissolving,
Without circle or line
devoid of harmony
Solar shapes in the retina
A trick of light?

And yet the painted toes, the jangling bracelets, the cleavage, my involuntary erection, passion of seed, bursting from corpses

The lovely creatures
Dance around the sickbed
Like angels in the house of the dead

– Andrew Sweeney


Singers are extroverts
Poets are introverts
No one remembers how to forget themselves
Even those who ask to be restrung
All of the words blown away by the winds of time
Still rhyme
Yet relevance has to be
Continuously restrung

Languages do, too
Loves: an even bigger
Kettle of fish
Species bow to this
While being restrung
By what time is trying to find

Only everyone secretly wants
Real friendliness
Poetry hides in a hole
Trying to find it
Singers get tired of pretending
Trying to find that
Every part of this whole earth
Is getting restrung

As every mind is being restrung
Seven times a second?
Why so fast?
The slowest and the fastest work together
The simultaneity of everything
Blows all fuses
Except for that of love:

The only way we can hold a universe
That’s being restrung

– George Gorman

To this day God is the name by which I designate all things which cross my willful path violently and recklessly, all things which upset my subjective views, plans and intentions and change the course of my life for better or worse.
– Carl Jung

The Moon’s symbolic repertoire is more suitable for a cosmology that requires contradiction and complexity rather than the one-dimensional Sun.
– Lionel Sims and David Fisher

The amount of sensory material stored up or stored down in the brain’s and the body’s systems is inestimable. It’s like a culture at the bottom of a jar, although it doesn’t grow, I think, or help anything else to grow unless you find a way to reach it and touch it.
– Seamus Heaney

The standing stones were considered living witnesses to the very cosmological order upheld by the builders of the monuments.
– Gail Higginbottom

You must realize I’ve never had ‘ideas’
about poetry.
To me it’s always been a personal,
almost physical release
or solution to a complex pressure of needs—
wanting to create, to justify, to praise,
to explain, to externalize,
depending on the circumstances.
– Philip Larkin

Radiate boundless love
towards the entire world —
above, below, and across —
unhindered, without ill will, without enmity.
– The Buddha, From the Metta Sutta

The cure for boredom is curiosity.
There is no cure for curiosity.
– Ellen Parr

After years of going back to a place you love,
you may have so many memories of the place
that whenever you think about it you become
calm and still as the lake at evening
when the hills and trees are mirrored there.
You can imagine your way back any time,
following trails you know by heart, with arteries
of roots, and you hold onto the place inside
the way the tentacled roots of a birch
grip a granite boulder shagged with ferns.
But there is always something calling you back
further, to childhood summers spent there,
or even further, beyond specific memories,
until memory itself, in its purest form,
is made of blue lakes nestled into foothills
and rivers the color of ale plunging over
rust-orange rocks then deepening for long still stretches
where pines and hemlocks lean out over the bank,
as you lean too, thinking, wherever you are.
And when you think of actually going back,
you can already feel how that place in you
will go rushing out to meet the real place,
which, itself, will lie before you, more vivid
than you remembered it, or more vivid because
you remembered it, each layer of your memory
adding a bluer gloss to the lake’s surface
and polishing the leaves until they shine.
– Jeffrey Harrison

When we wake, all people are rivers—
though some are torrents and some
mere trickles, though some break down
obstacles and some slowly meander.
We move from our beds through the banks
of the world, our lives following the course
of the day. Our streams merge with the streams
of others. We are, every day, more each other
and still somehow ourselves. If only we could trust
our uniting currents as unthinkingly as the rivers
follow gravity—always with the least amount
of resistance. How long will we pretend
we are separate? How long before we find ourselves
joined in the communion of the sea, all our waters
one water, every waking an invitation.
– Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

None of us understand what we’re doing
but we do beautiful things anyway.
– Allen Ginsberg

The Choice
If you want a bitter
seedless life,
just keep identifying your
self as victim.
Just keep
blaming others
for your circumstance.
But if you want your
heart to melt into
the impeccable splendor
of the golden sun
and illuminate the earth
with courage,
take off the cloak
of your old story.
Step naked
through the portal
of the present moment
into a kingdom
where darkness sparkles
and silence sings,
because there is
no judgment,
and fear is swallowed up
in Love.
– Alfred K. Lamotte

The space between events is where most of life is lived.
Those half-remembered moments of joy or sadness, fear or disappointment,
are merely beads of life strung together
to make one expanding necklace of experience.

The space between events is where we grow old.
From sunrise to sunset one day lives as another day emerges
from the fluid womb of dawn,
the first bead strung upon the everlasting thread of life.

The space between events is where knowledge marries beauty.
In quiet reflection we remember only the colored outline of events,
the black and white of war,
the rosiness that surrounded our first love.

The space between events is why we go on living.
The laughter of a child
or the sigh of wind in a canyon
becomes the music we hear expanding in our hearts
each time we gather one more bead of life.

– Nancy Wood


Light clarity avocado salad in the morning
after all the terrible things I do how amazing it is
to find forgiveness and love, not even forgiveness
since what is done is done and forgiveness isn’t love
and love is love nothing can ever go wrong
though things can get irritating boring and dispensable
(in the imagination) but not really for love
though a block away you feel distant the mere presence
changes everything like a chemical dropped on a paper
and all thoughts disappear in a strange quiet excitement
I am sure of nothing but this, intensified by breathings
– Frank O’Hara

Personal Poem

Now when I walk around at lunchtime
I have only two charms in my pocket
an old Roman coin Mike Kanemitsu gave me
and a bolt-head that broke off a packing case
when I was in Madrid the others never
brought me too much luck though they did
help keep me in New York against coercion
but now I’m happy for a time and interested

I walk through the luminous humidity
passing the House of Seagram with its wet
and its loungers and the construction to
the left that closed the sidewalk if
I ever get to be a construction worker
I’d like to have a silver hat please
and get to Moriarty’s where I wait for
LeRoi and hear who wants to be a mover and
shaker the last five years my batting average
is .016 that’s that, and LeRoi comes in
and tells me Miles Davis was clubbed 12
times last night outside birdland by a cop
a lady asks us for a nickel for a terrible
disease but we don’t give her one we
don’t like terrible diseases, then

we go eat some fish and some ale it’s
cool but crowded we don’t like Lionel Trilling
we decide, we like Don Allen we don’t like
Henry James so much we like Herman Melville
we don’t want to be in the poets’ walk in
San Francisco even we just want to be rich
and walk on girders in our silver hats
I wonder if one person out of the 8,000,000 is
thinking of me as I shake hands with LeRoi
and buy a strap for my wristwatch and go
back to work happy at the thought possibly so
– Frank O’Hara

To You

What is more beautiful than night
and someone in your arms
that’s what we love about art
it seems to prefer us and stays

if the moon or a gasping candle
sheds a little light or even dark
you become a landscape in a landscape
with rocks and craggy mountains

and valleys full of sweaty ferns
breathing and lifting into the clouds
which have actually come low
as a blanket of aspirations’ blue

for once not a melancholy color
because it is looking back at us
there’s no need for vistas we are one
in the complicated foreground of space

the architects are most courageous
because it stands for all to see
and for a long time just as
the words “I’ll always love you”

impulsively appear in the dark sky
and we are happy and stick by them
like a couple of painters in neon allowing
the light to glow there over the river
– Frank O’Hara

You tell me to live each day
as if it were my last. This is in the kitchen
where before coffee I complain
of the day ahead – that obstacle race
of minutes and hours,
grocery stores and doctors.

But why the last? I ask. Why not
live each day as if it were the first –
all raw astonishment, Eve rubbing
her eyes awake that first morning,
the sun coming up
like an ingénue in the east?

You grind the coffee
with the small roar of a mind
trying to clear itself. I set
the table, glance out the window
where dew has baptized every
living surface.
– Linda Pastan, Insomnia

If a man brings a good mind to what he reads he may become, as it were, the spiritual descendant to some extent of great men, and this link, this spiritual hereditary tie, may help to just kick the beam in the right direction at a vital crisis; or may keep him from drifting through the long slack times when, so to speak, we are only fielding and no balls are coming our way.
– Rudyard Kipling

Iris Song
You go outside and the trees don’t know
You’re black. The lilacs will chatter and break
Themselves real bloom, real boon,
No matter your gender. You matter.
Who in you is most material, so
You matter. Your afro gone touch the sky.
Come up from the ground looking extra fly,
Come up from the ground looking extra, fly,
I will touch the sky. I—open my mouth,
And my whole life falls out.
– Rickey Laurentiis

36,400,000. That is the expected number of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy, according to Drake’s famous equation. For the last 78 years, we had been broadcasting everything about us – our radio, our television, our history, our greatest discoveries – to the rest of the galaxy. We had been shouting our existence at the top of our lungs to the rest of the universe, wondering if we were alone. 36 million civilizations, yet in almost a century of listening, we hadn’t heard a thing. We were alone.

That was, until about 5 minutes ago.

[…] The signal pulsed on and off very quickly with incredibly uniform amplitudes; my initial reaction was that this was some sort of binary transmission. I measured 1679 pulses in the one minute that the transmission was active. After that, the silence resumed.

The numbers didn’t make any sense at first. They just seemed to be a random jumble of noise. […] I looked over the transmission again, and my heart skipped a beat. 1679 – that was the exact length of the Arecibo message sent out 40 years ago. I excitedly started arranging the bits in the original 73×23 rectangle. I didn’t get more than halfway through before my hopes were confirmed. This was the exact same message. The numbers in binary, from 1 to 10. The atomic numbers of the elements that make up life. The formulas for our DNA nucleotides.

Someone had been listening to us, and wanted us to know they were there.

[…] The signal is beeping again.

This time, it is slow. Deliberate, even. It lasts just under 5 minutes, with a new bit coming in once per second. Though the computers are of course recording it, I start writing them down. 0. 1. 0. 1. 0. 1. 0. 0… I knew immediately this wasn’t the same message as before. My mind races through the possibilities of what this could be. The transmission ends, having transmitted 248 bits. Surely this is too small for a meaningful message. What great message to another civilization can you possibly send with only 248 bits of information? On a computer, the only files that small would be limited to…


Was it possible? Were they really sending a message to us in our own language? Come to think of it, it’s not that out of the question – we had been transmitting pretty much every language on earth for the last 70 years… I begin to decipher with the first encoding scheme I could think of – ASCII. 0. 1. 0. 1. 0. 1. 0. 0. That’s B… 0. 1. 1 0. 0. 1. 0. 1. E…

As I finish piecing together the message, my stomach sinks like an anchor. […]


– Radio Silence

Be a sculptor
carving out time
the way Michelangelo
carved the statue of David

after two other artists gave up
on that same block of marble
citing its poor quality,
its impossible brittleness.

All time is quality time.
Don’t abandon your chisel
believing it’s not.

– Andrea Gibson, You Better Be Lightning

You cannot define a person on just one thing. You can’t just forget all these wonderful and good things that a person has done because one thing didn’t come off the way you thought it should come off.
– Aretha Franklin

The universe is the most amazing thing we know of, because it’s everything we know of.

I’ll never forget discussing the universe with Thomas Berry one day when he looked at me earnestly and said, “I think this is the most radical thing that a person can think about.”
– Drew Dillinger

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion…
– Robert F. Kennedy

The secret of happiness is: Find something more important than you are and dedicate your life to it.
– Daniel Dennett

When the earth is ravaged and the animals are dying, a new tribe of people shall come unto the earth from many colors, creeds and classes, and who by these actions and deeds shall make the earth green again. They shall be known as the “Warriors of the Rainbow.
– Hopi Prophecy

I’m not collecting full, long pieces at the moment…. what I’m collecting, literally, are scraps and observations. That’s the best thing I can do right now, because it’s been such an upending time.
– Lia Purpura

A True Poem
I’m working on a poem that’s so true, I can’t show it to anyone.

I could never show it to anyone.

Because it says exactly what I think, and what I think scares me.

Sometimes it pleases me.

Usually it brings misery.

And this poem says exactly what I think.

What I think of myself, what I think of my friends, what I think about my lover.


Parts of it might please them, some of it might scare them.

Some of it might bring misery.

And I don’t want to hurt them, I don’t want to hurt them.

I don’t want to hurt anybody.

I want everyone to love me.

Still, I keep working on it.


Why do I keep working on it?

Nobody will ever see it.

Nobody will ever see it.

I keep working on it even though I can never show it to anybody.

I keep working on it even though someone might get hurt.
– Lloyd Schwartz

It has always seemed strange to me that in our endless discussions about education so little stress is laid on the pleasure of becoming an educated person, the enormous interest it adds to life. To be able to be caught up into the world of thought — that is to be educated.
– Edith Hamilton

To hold our tongues when everyone is gossiping, –to smile without hostility at people and institutions, –to compensate for the shortage of love in the world with more love in small, private matters; to be more faithful in our work, — to show greater patience, — to forgo the cheap revenge obtainable from mockery and criticism: all these are things we can do.
– Hermann Hesse

I am
a cathedral of dead bolts
& I’d rather
burn myself down
than change the locks.
– Rachel McKibben, letter from my brain to my heart

This devoted band called itself the Eldorado Exploring Expedition, and I believe they were sworn to secrecy. Their talk, however, was the talk of sordid buccaneers: it was reckless without hardihood, greedy without audacity, and cruel without courage; there was not an atom of foresight or of serious intention in the whole batch of them, and they did not seem aware these things are wanted for the work of the world. To tear treasure out of the bowels of the land was their desire, with no more moral purpose at the back of it than there is in burglars breaking into a safe. Who paid the expenses of the noble enterprise I don’t know; but the uncle of our manager was leader of that lot.
– Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, 1902

Use God. There is a Divine Force in the universe, and it is made up of these: creative energy, gentle wisdom, pure love. When you use God, you are simply using this Divine Force.
– Neale Donald Walsh

Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual…The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.
– Carl Sagan

You can’t be afraid to deal with your demons. You’ve got to go there to be able to write.
– Lucinda Williams

In what I’ve called the new story community, we frequently encounter these words from one of our pioneers, Thomas Berry, who coined the term ‘new story’: ‘The deepest crises experienced by any society are those moments of change when the story becomes inadequate for meeting the survival demands of a present situation.’
– Michael Nagler, The Third Harmony

Loving life is easy when you are abroad.
Where no one knows you
and you hold your life in your hands all alone,
you are more master of yourself
than at any other time.
– Hannah Arendt

Music is liquid architecture; Architecture is frozen music.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Something very beautiful happens to people when their world has fallen apart: a humility, a nobility, a higher intelligence emerges at just the point when our knees hit the floor. Perhaps, in a way, that’s where humanity is now: about to discover we’re not as smart as we thought we were, will be forced by life to surrender our attacks and defenses which avail us of nothing, and finally break through into the collective beauty of who we really are.
– Marianne Williamson

Animists are people who recognise that the world is full of persons, only some of whom are human, and that life is always lived in relationship with others.
– Graham Harvey (2006)

Freedom begins between the ears.
– Edward Abbey

But the radiance is not ended,
And the joy, whate’er the cost,
Which those fleeting days attended
Never can be wholly lost.
– Leslie Pinckney Hill

No one has ever written, painted, sculpted,
modeled, built, or invented
except literally to get out of hell.
– Antonin Artaud

Whereas for Kant, reason was pure, for me reason is pharmacological, which means that we must distinguish between poisonous and curative uses of reason. It is impure.”
– Bernard Stiegler, Restarting the World System

The reason we feel alienated is because the society is infantile, trivial, and stupid. So the cost of sanity in this society is a certain level of alienation. I grapple with this because I’m a parent. And I think anybody who has children, you come to this realization, you know—what’ll it be? Alienated, cynical intellectual? Or slack-jawed, half-wit consumer of the horseshit being handed down from on high? There is not much choice in there, you see. And we all want our children to be well adjusted; unfortunately, there’s nothing to be well adjusted to!
– Terence McKenna

The wave of the future is on the local level. Don’t waste your heart and mind trying to pull down what is already destroying itself. But come into where you’re almost below the radar and reorganize life. We want communities where we live and work and fight for the future.
– Joanna Macy

Convince yourself that you are working in clay, not marble, on paper, not eternal bronze: let that first sentence be as stupid as it wishes.
– Jacques Barzun

We live in a world of theophanies. Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb. Life wants to lead you from crumbs to angels, but this can happen only if you are willing to unwrap the ordinary by staying with it long enough to harvest its treasure.
– Wiederkehr


How many random
lone stray words,
pairs, trios
whole phrases and lines
soft notes on instruments

are lost in bars, cafes
from the whir of a blender
expresso machine
Ice hitting sides of a mixer?
Shouts, mugs meeting?

How many ballads, airs
sonnets, blues songs
villanelles, free verse
long or short
can we piece together
if we recovered a weekend’s worth
from our city?
How many from a season?

If some close up device recorded them?
If we guessed from other words or notes?
or imagined them
from performers’ styles
or our own?

– Jerry Pendergast

Civilization may be the greatest bait-and-switch that ever was. It convinces us to destroy what is free so an overpriced, inferior copy can be sold to us later—often financed with the money we’ve earned hastening the destruction of the free version… The voices of civilization fill us with manufactured yearnings and then sell us prepackaged dollops of transitory satisfaction that evaporate on the tongue.

Some throw up their hands and blame it all on human nature. But that’s a mistake. It’s not human nature that makes us engage in this blind destruction of our world and ourselves. For hundreds of thousands of years, human beings thrived on this planet without doing it in. No, this is not the nature of our species—it is the nature of civilization, an emergent social structure in which our species is presently trapped..
– Christopher Ryan

Learning that fear governs our lives, and the many coping strategies we have evolved to manage it, may be an unpleasant discovery, but it is the beginning of liberation. All it takes to recover the integrity of our journey is to recognize that fear is the enemy. Not others, not history, but plain old fear—our fears. As Jung observed, the spirit of evil is negation of the life force by fear. Only boldness can deliver us from fear, and if the risk is not taken, the meaning of life is violated.* That is pretty clear.
It is not the others on this planet who we should fear.
After all, they are governed by fear as well. If we can remember that, then we will have less animosity toward them, and they will have less of a hold upon us. This does not mean that we need to be passive whenever they may be hurtful to us, but we are less likely to be caught in a repetitive, regressive cycle when we remember that fear is the common enemy. As I write, so many parts of the world are riven by fear, driven by animosity, and unable to see the frightened child in their enemies. We are governed by politicians whose survival as politicians depends on stoking those fears, and thereby dividing us from each other. We all seem to have forgotten the truth uttered by Philo of Alexandria millennia ago: “Be kind,
for everyone you meet has a really big problem.”

If God wanted you to be solid, he would have created you a rock,

but the softness of the mud in you was intended.

– Shams Tabrizi

The modern has made ‘life’ an idol
And therefore death haunts instead of blesses him
He has banished that celebration
Of painted bones
The pyre on the Ganges
The fire of bones
The mourning that was also a dancing brass band

He therefore lives in the depression of the atheist
Who believes that he is constructing the superhuman
And depriving him of a graceful death

Would you like to live forever in a hard drive?
To be a disembodied spectre
Haunting people with your ideology of
Eternal life

These autistic dreams
Of machined minded people
Who idolise life but never touch it

Because it can’t be touched
Without the knowledge of its end
Without the awareness of the shortness of breath

Once death was a trickster
A colourful fellow, who had no macabre intention
But danced alongside of life
With his bent trumpet, his thigh bone drum
The dew dissolving in bright sunlight

We are right to fear him, but we cannot ignore him
He comes between us and all our plans,
Can you hear his song, both mournful and triumphant
Not the sound of clocks, but the sound of tears and laughter

– thinking of Ivan Illich

trying to use samsara for wisdom is tricky… better to abandon samsara first, integrate all appearances second, liberate all appearances third.
– Aric Parker

I could not rid myself of addiction,
so I transmuted my craving into your face.
I thought that the hollow in my chest could only
be veiled by the smoke of Habana robustos,
the oaky bouquet of the reddest wine.
Now the fragrance of the merest breath delights me
with the musky finish of your love.
Emptiness has ripened into thanksgiving.
Longing itself is inebriation.
For I have met the Friend whose glance
changed everything.
Solitude became our wedding, night
a darker sweetness than desire.
I have too many radiant centers now to be alone.
Silence has been swallowed up
in the music of namelessness.
I follow the sacred scripture of my body.
In my flesh there are no don’ts.
Wandering in the wilderness at midnight, I trust
in the candle of breathing, and need not see far.
I just step into the next lit pool of stillness.
There is no better time than this moment
to depart from the kingdom of fear
and set out for the golden palace where we all
learned to dance before we were born.
This breath is given, not taken.
Your undulation polishes the golden cup in my heart.
You flow into me, and I flow over my rim,
dissolving in the Self-luminous.
I think I’ve been praying for a thousand lives
to the one I Am, who holds me like a jar,
and pours the distant stars out of my crown.
O you who are crazy, foolish, naked, lost,
you alone can taste these words.
You alone are worthy to beg
for more.
– Fred LaMotte

When people
ask me how I am,
they might as well
be asking where
I’ve gone.
– Reagan Myers

O the pitcher sage
O the sticky monkey flower
– Nicholas Pierotti

If a word here borders on me, I’ll let it border.
If Bohemia still lies by the sea, I’ll believe in the sea again.
And believing in the sea, thus I can hope for land.
– Ingeborg Bachmann

I still border on a word and on another land,
I border, like little else, on everything more and more,

a Bohemian, a wandering minstrel, who has nothing, who
is held by nothing, gifted only at seeing, by a doubtful sea,
the land of my choice.

– Ingeborg Bachmann

A prerequisite of poetry
is the inbreath of astonishment–
and don’t make this hard for yourself.

Astonishment is the secret
within every ordinary thing
that tells itself to you when you get close
and comfortable with it.

You needn’t make the flower
by forcing her into a stare off
for several hours first
intimidating her into telling you
her secrets–
Grace is dulled by this.

You needn’t interrogate
the moon
demanding that she spit out strings
of pearlescent stanzas,

and you don’t need to pretzel your body
into a meditation or yoga position
that makes it whimper
and force it to stay.

You needn’t force your edge-less heart
to conform to any hard mold

or try so hard
to squeeze color from the sunset
like a vibrant, cosmic pimple.

You needn’t work so hard
to extract beauty from yourself
or this soft,
generous world.

Just notice how things are,
the grace of the way
things have landed in your life:

Savor your coffee,
notice the clutter
of things on your shelf–
that collection of tidbits
from the peculiar and utterly magical gift
of your only life

and from that place,
not manicured and controlled
but loose haired and uniquely yours,
just start saying something about it.

Walk into the woods
and lay your thanks
upon everything
like sunlight
and poetry, that beauty creature,
will emerge and approach you.

– Chelan Harkin

There aren’t any hidden secrets to succeeding as a published writer… The real ‘secrets’ you can use are the obvious ones: work hard, don’t give up, learn your shit, do good work.
– Lincoln Michel

Earth is so thick with divine possibility, that it is a wonder we can walk anywhere without cracking our shins on altars.
– Barbara Brown Taylor

“If one member suffers, all suffer together. If one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1st Cor. 12:26)

Life is not a game of solitaire; people depend on one another. When one does well, the others are lifted up. When one stumbles, others are impacted. There are no one-man teams – either by definition or natural law. Therefore, success is a community effort; it’s dependent upon those who stand beside you.

– Fr. John
Archangel Michael Orthodox Church

Sometimes we work to change the things we hate about ourselves.
More often we need to change the hate itself.
– David Bedrick

“I hate. I hate. I hate,” my mom chanted unconsciously on her deathbed.

“It’s going to be okay. Everything is going to be okay,” I lied softly to her while holding her cold, clenched fist in my hand.

With her eyes pinched shut she responded with another round of, “I hate. I hate. I hate.”

It had been five days since she had said anything other than “I hate” and it was breaking my heart.

The “I hates” always came in threes. I spent hours by her bedside trying to figure out why. I had considered for a while that she was trying to communicate with me through some sort of metaphysical code. Perhaps she was telling me to make sure to water her plants three times a day? I made a couple dozen “I hate” anagrams trying to solve the mystery.

Eat Hi – My mom was trying to remind me to eat more food that was high in fiber – which would be something she would exactly say.

It Hea -A possible referendum against the art of small talk that we both despised with every particle in our bodies.

Ha Tie – A joke between us because I never tied my shoes and she was certain that someday I’d trip in a super embarrassing situation? (note: I still don’t tie my shoes to this day and I’m awaiting her ghostly “Told you so.” that will most likely follow once I go barreling down the stands during my sons upcoming high school graduation.)

The IA – Did she want me to take her to Iowa? Was this like Field of Dreams? I’ve always fancied myself as a lower-rent version of Kevin Costner – provided he had a medical condition that caused him to shrink about a foot and lose some of his trademarked smolder.

Eventually, it became clear that there was no hidden message in what she was saying. The endless stream of conversationally awkward neurologists made it known to us that whatever my mom was saying was probably just her brain misfiring due to the trauma of the collecting pressure of blood that was building on it.

“I hate. I hate. I hate.”

I didn’t want those to be the last words that she would utter before the unstoppable bleeding in her brain would finally claim her life. I was desperate for her to say anything else.

“It is going to be okay. You are loved. You are looooovveed. Loooved.” I said, like a parent trying to get their baby say their first word.

Although I am prone to abject selfishness and can easily make most things become about me, I was pretty sure that her litany of “I hates” didn’t have much to do with how she felt about me. Although we definitely had a perfect strangers kind of relationship we weren’t really estranged.

If I had to guess, I’m pretty sure she was just commenting on how much she really disliked her current situation. My mom abhorred doctors and people fussing over her and here she was now enduring both horrors at once.

I remember trying to hold her hand, but it was always clenched too tight, so I settled for just resting mine on top hers while watching her fade away.

It was like watching a ice cube melt. Little by little she was leaving me.

I sat by my momfor another three days in that grim little hospital room, witnessing her grapple with death. I imagined during that time that they were tied up in some pretty heated negotiations.

Death: Alright, let’s go.
My Mom: Shut up.
Death: Please?
My Mom: Bite me.
Death: I’ll go make some coffee.
My Mom: Make a double pot. You’re gonna be here a while.
Death: Great…

Eventually my mom was moved to a much more comfortable hospice center for her last couple of days on Earth. There were no more mechanical whirls or beeps from monitors that plagued our days together in the old hospital room.

At the hospice there was only the sound of quiet dignity of my mom’s final few thousand breaths. It was so much more relaxed and reverent there. But there was one familiar sound that followed us to the hospice:

“I hate. I hate. I hate,” she continued.

“It’s going to be okay,” I responded on cue. My hand around her fist.

A young hospice nurse walked in and took a look at the two of us. We were quite a pair. My mom fading away and me looking like I hadn’t showered since the late 90s.

“Hold her hand,” the nurse instructed kindly but firmly. That’s a difficult balance in tone to manage, but she did it.

I tried to explain that my mom wasn’t going to allow for that. Her hand was too tightly coiled. The nurse shook her head like a fastball pitcher who had just been given the sign to throw a changeup. She walked over and took my mom’s fisted hand, gently turned it over and began to tenderly massage the base of her palm.

Within a second or two her fist opened up like a spring flower and I was able to lace my fingers with hers.

This was the first time we had held hands in over 25 years. My hand and hers were slowly sewn together by the angels who frequent hospice rooms.

We weren’t just two humans saying goodbye. We were a mother and a son offering every unspoken word that remained between us through the warmth of two hands cradling one another.

Everything faded away. The room. The lovely hospice nurse. Everything.

It was just my mom and me. A mother and her son having one last walk together through the universe. Two souls parting. Saying everything that needed to be said.

When I regained my senses I saw the nurse on the other side of my mom’s bed holding her opposite hand.

She smiled at me:

“It’s hard to hold hands with a fist,” the nurse said in the softest of voices.

I nodded in agreement. I was crying. It was the first time that I had broken down during my mom’s six-week battle.

“It’s going to be okay. You are loved,” I whispered to my mom.

“Okay…” she whispered in reply.

She never spoke again.

A day later my mom passed away surrounded by family and with her hands being held. She ventured across the veil and into God’s arms while feeling my wrist!s pulse beat against her still body.

“Okay” was her last word.


Every day I
try my
best to
remember the
final lesson
my mom
taught me:

Live with
Open hands
And not
Clenched fists.

I will.
I will.


– John Roedel


At my mountainside farm the arrival of storms—fierce or demure—is often an uncertainty even when forecasters warn that bad weather is on its way. Microclimates created by slope and aspect work secret equations. Will the ridge keep the storm on the western slope? Will it be redirected by winds buffeting the eastern foothills? Will it pick up additional moisture as it traverses the valleyed rivers, gain strength, and pulse forward higher and stronger than anticipated? All you can do is join the forest in the act of waiting—in wonderment or worry.

Anxiety and depression dangle from the branches of my family tree like tattered, long ago-faded ornaments. Growing up, I dreaded holiday gatherings; cheer was expressed as criticism, nagging, bickering, outbursts, and rapid departures. Always. At a very young age, I nicknamed my Grandpa Rea, “Silly Boy,” because he was humorless and wouldn’t let us play in or near the house. Children create noise, and noise can feel like an assault to a delicate nervous system. In his later years, “Silly Boy” reverted to his child-self and was institutionalized until his soul decided to try to find peace elsewhere. There are hard-to-tell stories about other relatives. Uncle Craig died by suicide while still a young man.

Uncertainty is the bane of people with anxiety and related disorders. What will happen next? When? How? How bad will it be? How will I get through it this time? Will I have to do it alone? Then what?

Although the term uncertainty means slightly different things across fields of thought, it is generally defined as a state of having limited knowledge. The term uncertainty can be applied to projections of future events, the limits of physical measurements and analytical models, or to information that we don’t possess—the unknown—and that may not be attainable—the great mystery.
In the environmental context, scientists attempt to measure the extent of uncertainty, asses the type and degree of the potential adverse consequences arising from various possible outcomes, and prescribe options for reducing the likelihood of damage or loss.

Measurement of Uncertainty: A set of possible states or outcomes where probabilities are assigned to each possible state or outcome.

Risk: A state of uncertainty where one or more possible outcomes might have an undesired effect or cause a significant loss.

Risk Assessment: A quantitative or qualitative evaluation of risk relating to a perceived threat in a specific context.

Risk Management: The control, avoidance, minimization, or elimination of unacceptable risks.

Risk Communication: The exchange of information and opinions regarding a specific risk and risk-related factors.

Collectively, risk assessment, risk management, and risk communication are known as risk analysis.

Heated debate over the rate, degree, and potential impacts of global-scale climate change have ushered the term ‘uncertainty’ and ‘risk’ into mainstream dialogue. How certain are climate scientists about their analytical findings and their models’ projections? How willing are we as a species to risk inaction, insufficient action, or inappropriate actions in the face of uncertainty when the consequences of climate change could devastate life on Earth?

Larry Schweiger, former President/CEO of the National Wildlife Federation and author of Last Chance, is concerned that our failure to accept uncertainties as part of the clear and necessary dialogue on issues as complex as climate change results in a paralytic response to threats that loom just over the horizon. He observes:

‘When faced with the complexities of the climate system, too often scientists have nuanced their messages. Knowing “if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?” we must ask when a thousand bugles each yield indistinct sounds, will we not hear a cacophony instead of the needed battle call?’

In Beyond the Limits, Donnella Meadows and colleagues explore the dynamics of human population growth in a world of finite natural resources. They postulate scenarios ranging from unlimited human population growth facilitated by (miraculously) limitless natural resource production to, at the other extreme, the complete collapse of both the natural resource base and the human population. Throughout the book, they point out that “the world faces not a preordained future, but a choice,” and conclude that, “there is no way of knowing for sure, other than to try it.” They urge us to accept that uncertainty is inherent in decision making and act on the best available information.

In the environmental policy context, uncertainty is often addressed from the perspective of risk taking versus opportunity gain, opportunity typically being measured in terms of economic growth. For example, governments may weigh the risk of harmful organisms or toxins entering a country though trade versus the monetary gain to the country from engaging in a particular trade activity. In theory, risk analyses are applicable tools for making well-informed decisions. However, we are often lacking the quantity and quality of scientific data necessary to produce a reliable risk analysis; substantial uncertainty remains at our doorstep.

We don’t know it all.

Although we inhabit Earth, we humans do not have the mental capacity—the consciousness—to fully comprehend the world in which we live. Our nervous system evolved to extract certain signals out of the noise of life. Our survival has long depended on our ability to spot a lion crouched in the tall, ochre-colored grasses and pinpoint a fish holding its place in the lake millimeters above the rocks that were designed by the same unknown artist. We are attuned to the dramatic, not the banal. We are attuned to the urgent, not the routine. We are attuned to the unusual, the exotic, the rare—the which stands out—not the ordinary.

We don’t want to know it all. We can’t know it all. To be human is to occupy a world of uncertainties. And, yet, modern society is largely constructed on the platform of certainty: we build “permanent” structures in every imaginable form—buildings, roadways, institutions, political systems, economic systems. Only preachers and insurance agents routinely remind us that things might not be as concrete as they seem and thus we should invest our power and our money in a greater security.

Robert Ornstein and Paul Ehrlich discuss the disconnect between human cognitive capacity and the state of the plan in New World, New Mind. They encourage us to change the way we think about the future by changing the way that we think in the present. They point out that many of the predicaments of modern society arise from the way people respond to, simplify, and ultimately ‘caricature’ reality in their minds.

In the first volume of Structure of Magic, Richard Bandler and John Grinder refer to the generalization, deletion, and distortion of information as the three universals of human cognitive modeling—how we create mental models of the world to represent, but not precisely encode, our experiences. We are selective about the information we store in our psyches and make decisions, often unconscious decisions guided by our core values, about how we store that information.

People are willing to delete, distort, or overly generalize the state of uncertainty in order to adopt the illusion of certainty if doing so meets the needs of one of their most deeply held values, namely, security. For many people, the fallacy of safety is preferential to the fear associated with uncertainty or, more specifically, the fear that adverse consequences may arise in conjunction with potential outcomes.

In the environmental context, this cognitive phenomenon is not limited to policy makers or members of the general public who appear to have their head in the proverbial sand. In Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erick Conway share a story about being told by a colleague that in discussions taking place under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, ‘some scientists have been reluctant to make strong claims about the scientific evidence, lest contrarians “attack us,” while another said that she’d rather err on the side of conservatism in her estimates because then she feels more “secure.”’

In The End of Nature, Bill McKibben expresses his hope that people will make “the necessary technical adjustments to preserve the world from overheating but also the necessary mental adjustments to ensure that we’ll never again put our [imagined] good ahead of everything else.” He goes on to say, “This is the path I choose, for it offers at least a shred of hope for a living, eternal, meaningful world.”

Many people with anxiety “disorders” choose to manage their relationship with uncertainty through psychological escapism, addictions, and/or antidepressants. These are the strings of blinking, multi-colored lights encircling my family tree. I have chosen a different approach. For me, “the necessary mental adjustments” include making the decision to embrace uncertainty, to apprentice to the unknown and the unknowable, to befriend the void, the darkness.

This is not the path of least resistance. My daily practice involves leaning toward, leaning into, that which has the potential to induce anxiety; all sorts of storms, for example. The process of being fully present with uncertainty involves a state of vulnerability that has to be met with courage and self-compassion. It requires me to acknowledge and claim everything a delicate nervous system uses to signal a warning of potential hazard—hypersensitivity to stimuli, strong emotions, physical pain, and visions of worst case scenarios that arrive by and day and night. It means being okay with aspects and expressions of myself that current societal norms, and many other people, are not prepared to embrace.

Generally speaking, participants in Western Culture choose to manage their relationship with uncertainty by obtaining more and more stuff (literally and metaphorically) as a barrier against worst case scenarios. What if we, as a society, could collectively embrace uncertainty? What if Homo sapiens did make “the necessary mental adjustments?” How then might we choose to live our lives? How might culture transform? Might there be far less demand on natural resources? Might there be a greater capacity to make decisions from a place of compassion (meaning “to suffer with”) for all living beings? If not driven by the fear and anxiety that uncertainty invokes, how might we orient our lives?

Make a place for our collective despair

In their book, Active Hope, Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone offer the principle “that pain for the world, a phrase that covers a range of feelings, including outrage, alarm, grief, guilt, dread, and despair, is a normal, healthy response to a world in trauma.” They encourage us to honor our pain and the pain of others. Doing so can help us find more compassionate and empowering ways of relating to uncertainty.

Develop slow reflexes

Robert Ornstein and Paul Ehrlich see it as vital that we expand our perspective capacities to add “slow reflexes” to our behavioral repertoire. We need to learn to discern which situations necessitate “urgent and important” response capacities and which would be better served by slower, more contemplative, consciousness-minded actions. These prominent scientists have reached the same conclusion as many spiritual traditions.

Learn to stay

Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, regards the situation of “no exit” as both delightful and painful. In her book, the Wisdom of No Escape, she writes, “…whether it’s anger or craving or jealousy or fear or depression—whatever it might be—the notion is not to try to get rid of it, but to make friends with it. That means getting to know it completely, with some kind of softness, and learning how, once you’ve experience it fully, to let go.” Only by learning to honor our uncomfortable responses to uncertainty and staying with them long enough to gain insights can we make conscious decisions to respond in ways that are enlivening for ourselves and Earth’s collective future.

Orient by beauty, what brings you alive

Carolyn Raffensperer, lawyer, and advocate for future generations says:

‘Environmental decisions pivot on scientific certainty or the lack thereof. We are prevented from taking action if we haven’t resolved the shadow of doubt. But the precautionary principle, a legal idea that emerged from a German word that literally means “forecaring,” compels us to take action in the face of uncertainty. I have come to believe that while science has its own elegance, it doesn’t hold all the answers. An equally elegant and perhaps more widely available way of taking action in the face of uncertainty is to choose the most beautiful option. Ugliness is our biological radar that something is wrong. Beauty is a worthy compass.’

David Whyte expresses a similar perspective at the conclusion of his poem, Sweet Darkness:

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

We can relate to uncertainty—to the dark unknown and unknowable—by attuning to it until we recognize what is most enlivening. In the case of environmental conservation, we can choose that which will literally beautify, sustain, and generate life. Storm or no storm?


What will happen next? When? How? How bad will it be? How will I get through it this time? Will I have to do it alone? Then what?

I don’t know. “I don’t know” is a phrase, a companion, for which I am grateful. It is humbling—it keeps me grounded. It is truthful—it keeps me honest with myself and others. It is invocative—it invites attentiveness and curiosity as soul guides. It is open ended—it allows a place for what can be perceived, as well as mystery.

Perhaps, the time will come when we can live by the words of poet and philosopher, John O’Donohue:

So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown.

Can Homo sapiens make “the necessary mental adjustments”—profound, life-sustaining shifts in mind and heart consciousness?

I don’t know. But, there is a strong wind enlivening the tree canopy.

– Jamie K. Reaser, RidgeLines: A View of Nature and Human Nature

my brain and
heart divorced

a decade ago

over who was
to blame about
how big of a mess
I have become

they couldn’t be
in the same room
with each other

now my head and heart
share custody of me

I stay with my brain
during the week

and my heart
gets me on weekends

they never speak to one another

– instead, they give me
the same note to pass
to each other every week

and their notes they
send to one another always
says the same thing:

“This is all your fault”

on Sundays
my heart complains
about how my
head has let me down
in the past

and on Wednesday
my head lists all
of the times my
heart has screwed
things up for me
in the future

they blame each
other for the
state of my life

there’s been a lot
of yelling – and crying


lately, I’ve been
spending a lot of
time with my gut

who serves as my
unofficial therapist

most nights, I sneak out of the
window in my ribcage

and slide down my spine
and collapse on my
gut’s plush leather chair
that’s always open for me

~ and I just sit sit sit sit
until the sun comes up

last evening,
my gut asked me
if I was having a hard
time being caught
between my heart
and my head

I nodded

I said I didn’t know
if I could live with
either of them anymore

“my heart is always sad about
something that happened yesterday
while my head is always worried
about something that may happen tomorrow,”
I lamented

my gut squeezed my hand

“I just can’t live with
my mistakes of the past
or my anxiety about the future,”
I sighed

my gut smiled and said:

“in that case,
you should
go stay with your
lungs for a while,”

I was confused
– the look on my face gave it away

“if you are exhausted about
your heart’s obsession with
the fixed past and your mind’s focus
on the uncertain future

your lungs are the perfect place for you

there is no yesterday in your lungs
there is no tomorrow there either

there is only now
there is only inhale
there is only exhale
there is only this moment

there is only breath

and in that breath
you can rest while your
heart and head work
their relationship out.”

this morning,
while my brain
was busy reading
tea leaves

and while my
heart was staring
at old photographs

I packed a little
bag and walked
to the door of
my lungs

before I could even knock
she opened the door
with a smile and as
a gust of air embraced me
she said

“what took you so long?”

– john roedel

Our lives are not for us alone. We are here to grow something that feeds others.

– Parker J. Palmer

I’ve read a decent number of books that are entirely materialist in their outlook, in other words, the only thing that exists is the material plane—chemistry and physics. According to these books, consciousness is based entirely within the brain and nervous system and is itself a set of chemical activities. On the acknowledgement pages of these books the authors invariably thank their wives and children for their love and patience during the difficult period of the writing of the book. Are love and patience chemical properties?
– Mark Bitner

One doesn’t have to operate with great malice to do great harm. The absence of empathy and understanding are sufficient.

– Charles M. Blow

Tea tempers the spirits and harmonizes the mind, dispels lassitude and relieves fatigue, awakens thought and prevents drowsiness, lightens or refreshes the body, and clears the perceptive faculties.
– Lu Yu

The more I extend my knowledge of the Earth’s deep history and life’s biogenesis and evolution, the more curious and appreciative I become towards my fellow human animals and all our creaturely cousins, past and present.
I especially feel a fuller tolerance and acceptance growing within my judgments toward people and myself:
Our irrationality; our penchant for clever abstraction and symbolic expression; and our never-ending assessments, displays, and concerns for our individual social status and tribal value — not merely material wealth, but our sense of self-esteem and perceived risks to our in-group acceptance.
Oh yes, there’s love and creativity and beauty, to be sure.
But what I’m trying to say is that I’m slowly trudging along a path of accepting a lot of what else exemplifies us (when considering our humble beginnings in stardust and organic slime):
Our fragile and fleeting existence and our stupidity, warts and all.
– Andrew Kent Hagel

Do you believe then that the sciences would ever have arisen and become great if there had not beforehand been magicians, alchemists, astrologers and wizards, who thirsted and hungered after abscondite and forbidden powers?
– Friedrich Nietzsche

The Burden of Praise

“Is sleamhainn leac doras an taigh mhòir.”
(The chief’s house has a slippery doorstep.)
– Scottish Gaelic Proverb

Many times in my life I’ve sought praise.

Many times in my life I got drunk on it.

But it wasn’t until I deeply abused my power and hurt someone who trusted me, that I saw praise for what it is and isn’t.

Praise is not there to make our heads big or to gratify our ego.

Praise is the humanizing burden that tells us, “You have an impact on others. Be careful now.”

Being praised puts responsibility on your shoulders. It’s telling you that you’re in a different phase of your life now, and that something else beyond your youthful carelessness is asked for.

When someone praises you, sit with their words for a while, and see if you can feel its weight and how it asks you to be stronger.

It’s not a badge for you to proudly display – it’s a sort of unasked for honour that you carry with you as you go.

Excerpted from my eBook:
Who am I to Teach and Charge for it?

– Tad Hargrave

Critical thinking requires assembling data to back up one’s opinion. Otherwise students may falsely conclude that all opinions are somehow equal.

– James W. Loewen

I also realized that I’d grown soft. Things had been going too well lately. Too easily. I needed something to pare the fat off my soul, to scare the s**t out of me, to make me grateful, again, for being alive. And I knew, deep and safe, beyond mere intellect, that there is nothing like a wilderness journey for rekindling the fires of life…
– Colin Fletcher, The River

I will always be on the side
of those who have nothing
and who are not even allowed
to enjoy the nothing
they have in peace.
– Federico Garcia Lorca

None of us, not even hermits like me, exist apart from each other and the world. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all feeling the ripple effects of the pain and terror people are enduring in a time of fire, plague, earthquake, flood, and war. As Denise Levertov wrote:

“Yes, this is the knowledge that jostles for space
in our bodies along with all we
go on knowing of joy, of love;

“our nerve filaments twitch with its presence
day and night,
nothing we say has the not the husky phlegm of it in the saying,
nothing we do has the quickness, the sureness,
the deep intelligence living at peace would have.”

No,, those of us who are not living through these horrors directly are not suffering in the same way as those who are. But, still, whether we acknowledge it or not, the grief, fear, pain, rage, and despair of it all live in our bodies. And when we do not acknowledge them, they come out in unexpected and unintentional ways: anxiety, insomnia, depression, grouchiness, angry outbursts. And until we deal with them, we are less able to tend in a real way to the challenges that face us all.

So what can we do? What I am doing and what I am counseling my kin who ask is:

— spend time by rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans, letting your senses become aware of flow and movement
— spend time breathing in the scents of wild plants
— listen to songs and read poems and stories that helped your ancestors navigate times of trouble
— move your body in ways that feel good to you
— be gentle with yourself and with others
— find solitude (or space with deeply trusted people) where you can allow tears and anger to flow

it is from these places that the next steps will become clear.

– Seán Pádraig O’Donoghue

As soon as you become willing
to open the door
to love all of yourself
you go straight into hell
which is just another word
for every unveiled part of you
where every rejected piece of yourself
has been waiting
for the salvation of the light
of your loving acceptance
to fall fully upon it.

And as soon as you see the sea
of fragmented,
disenfranchised, homeless and hungry
inner refugees
whose dignity and worth
you have systematically been denying

that now want to come forward
and receive the resources
to rehome themselves
in the conscious light of your heart

you might be tempted to invest all of your money
into building a boarder wall.

You might react and say,
“This self-love thing is for hippies!
I’ll just nurse another addiction to help keep myself divided
An inner pangaea is too idealistic.
These people will steal all my old strategies
to keep love out!
I’ll be out of work and self-importance!”

But eventually the demand
to move out of exile
into embrace
becomes too pressing

and you must come to experiment
with the possibility
that you can break open
to allow access to all of yourself
and become so much more
than you are–
that there’s hidden kin
waiting to be found
in all that you’ve othered.

– Chelan Harkin

I had to share these lines of poetry from Galway Kinnell in my workshop around shame and neurodiversity yesterday.

BECAUSE in the center of our difficulties, our experience of being outliers or even marginalization, there lies a “bud” that can flower.

I love Galway’s vision of reteaching a thing its loveliness by putting words and touch on the “brow of the flower.”

Tears just rereading his words.

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing”

– David Bedrick

I love this analogy!

You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere.

Why did you spill the coffee?

“Because someone bumped into me!!!”

Wrong answer.

You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup.

Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.

*Whatever is inside the cup is what will spill out.*

Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which WILL happen), whatever is inside you will come out. It’s easy to fake it, until you get rattled.

*So we have to ask ourselves… “what’s in my cup?”*

When life gets tough, what spills over?

Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility?

Anger, bitterness, harsh words and reactions?

Life provides the cup, YOU choose how to fill it.

Today let’s work towards filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation; and kindness, gentleness and love for others.

– Judy Dewitt Nye

Realize that every mode of perception is subjective, that what is seen or heard, touched or smelt, felt or thought, expected or imagined, is in the mind and not in reality, and you will experience peace and freedom from fear.
– Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Oh a false clock tries to tick out my time
To disgrace, distract, and bother me
And the dirt of gossip blows into my face
And the dust of rumors covers me
But if the arrow is straight
And the point is slick
It can pierce through dust no matter how thick
So I’ll make my stand
And remain as I am
And bid farewell and not give a damn.
– Bob Dylan

Never seek to please anyone. Seek to evolve thyself.
– Lailah Gifty Akita, Pearls of Wisdom

I believe, that if we understood ourselves better, we would damage ourselves less.
– James Baldwin

The difference between Apophenia and Synchronicity~

By a synchronistic phenomenon Jung understands the *coincidence* in time of two or more psychic and physical events which are connected, not causally, but by their *identical* meaning (von Franz~)
Two things happen at the exact same time and place and it is precisely this *coincidence* of events that is meaningful…
Jung perceived the concept of synchronicity to be best represented by the Taoist number system, conceptualized by the I Ching, where numbers represent qualities and intensities rather than quantities. as such, the manifestation of synchronistic events contain corresponding qualities and intensities (and become known to us *because* of this relationship of quality and intensity).
As “numbers” are the quintessential archetypal representations, they are considered ordered *images* that flow in a precise order and sequence. (the I Ching is considered to be a system that “organizes the play of the archetypes”). Each WHOLE number represents an archetypal manifestation (or constellation) that breaks through to consciousness as part of a larger underlying matrix or pattern (what Jung called the psychophysical background of existence).
“Although the nonperceptual potential continuum or unus mundus appears to exist outside time, certain dynamic manifestations of it break through into our ordinary temporal sphere in the form of synchronistic occurrences. To understand the nature of these manifestations is the aim of the I Ching. Its function clearly presupposes a certain “probability” in the existence of synchronistic events.”
von Franz~
Western causality “describes the sequence of events” while synchronicity deals with the *coincidence* of events~ Jung~
the definition of Apophenia is – the tendency to perceive a connection or meaningful pattern between unrelated or random things (such as objects or ideas), while Jung’s synchronicity is interested in the fact that a coincidence of events in a singular moment have occurred.
In other words, synchronicity isn’t about “the random things that have showed up together” (apophenia); it’s about “the moment” itself in which those random things show up together.
it’s not about the THINGS, it’s about the MOMENT, and THAT is the fundamental difference…
– Ari Annona

Fear is a natural reaction
to moving closer to the truth.
– Pema Chödrön

I asked my Grandfather one time…Grandpa, Egyptians left the Pyramids, Druids left Stone henge…what did we leave?
he said “We left it the way it was, and suppose to be!”
– Paul Mcloud

If you look into any child’s eyes, they don’t see darkness, they see light. They see tomorrow, they want tomorrow, and I’ve never stopped looking at this life as just a better tomorrow.
– Yusuf

The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day. Never lose a holy curiosity.
– Albert Einstein

Life and evolution are made of “wheels within wheels,” games within games. But looking at life as nothing but necessity has been turning us into zombies. A more playful approach has more interesting possibilities when it comes to the relevant question of humans being a happily cooperative species. Other social species don’t seem to have such Big Problems, so it could help for homo sapiens to rediscover the primal life lesson of how to “play well” together as feeling and sensing organisms, rather than as controlling automatons. As Yasuhiko Genku Kimura & Neelesh Marik say in The Infinite Game Platform,

“The philosopher and playwright Gabriel Marcel says: Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived. Marcel thus proposes a new possibility of living life different from the life that revolves around survival, control, and problem solving….This possibility is the possibility of evolving from Homo Sapiens, Man the Wise, to Homo Ludens, Man the Player.”

Johan Huizinga adds in Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture, “Civilization is, in its earliest phases, played. It does not come from play like a baby detaching itself from the womb: it arises in and as play, and never leaves it.” Could we really be homo ludens? The Playful Ones. And if we’re the playful Fools in the deck of life, no wonder being godlike these days is getting so grim. For in the playfulness of the living, action is not ruthlessly divorced from unauthorized impulse and yoked to a feelingless external system of compulsive guidance. It is always dramatically involved in the fact that “the game is afoot,” and that each living mind is here “on its own recognizance.”

– George Gorman


We went window to window
and turned on
the outside light to see
the marvelous. Ice caked like beach
glass on the decks, blown in
and over.

And then, in the distance
saying, “So there.”


We went window to window and turned
on the outside light to see the marvelous.

Ice caked like beach glass on the decks,
blown in and over; and then, in the distance

saying, “So there.”


We went window to window and turned on
the outside light to see the marvelous. Ice caked
like beach glass on the decks, blown in
and over. and then, in the distance saying,

“So there.”


We went window to window and turned on the outside light to see the marvelous. Ice caked like beach glass on the decks, blown in and over. and then, in the distance saying, “So there.”
– Ruth Asher

When something bothered me, I didn’t talk with anyone about it. I thought it over all by myself, came to a conclusion, and took action alone.
Not that I really felt lonely. I thought that’s just the way things are. Human beings, in the final analysis, have to survive on their own.
– Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

Heaven and hell
are roommates in my body.

Life and death
are flowers
in my garden
that share a root.

Hell comes over
to heaven’s place often
to borrow a cup of sugar
to sweeten things up.

Heaven visits hell
when things get too plain
to borrow some zest
and mix things up.

Life and death
bolster each other
like a trellis
to help the plant
grow into surrender,
collapse into blossom—

and the seed of one
can always be found
in the other.

Really, if you take the labels
off of these wild, dynamic forces,
likely even a discerning eye
couldn’t tell which is which.

– Chelan Harkin

In a real sense all life is inter-related.
All (people) are caught in an inescapable
network of mutuality, tied in a single
garment of destiny. Whatever affects one
directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be
what I ought to be until you are what you
ought to be, and you can never be what you
ought to be until I am what I ought to be…
This is the inter-related structure of reality.
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Statements I’m allergic to:
“I’ already did my shadow work.”
“You need to think positively or you’ll attract negativity.”
“All lives matter.”
” The way to get over abuse and trauma is to forgive.”
” All change is really individual work.”
” Saying or thinking good things about yourself is ego.”
” Underneath all anger is sadness.”
” The racial and indigenous nightmare in the U.S. is over.”
” I’m too old to… learn, go back to school, change ….”
” I’m sorry you felt hurt.”
“Losing weight (or most anything else) is easy. Simply follow this program.” (e.g, eat right and exercise.)
” Difficult experiences arise because you needed to learn something.”
” If they did what the police said, they wouldn’t have gotten hurt or killed.”
“Can’t you get over that already?!”
– David Bedrick

We find ourselves caught in a messed-up world.
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Anxiety, Shame, pure energy, offer them up as compost to fuel the fires of healing for your ancestral lines.
– Angela Rennilson

Above all do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.
– Søren Kierkegaard

One of the risks of being quiet is that the other people can fill your silence with their own interpretation: You’re bored. You’re depressed. You’re shy. You’re stuck up. You’re judgmental. When others can’t read us, they write their own story—not always one we choose or that’s true to who we are.
– Sophia Dembling, The Introvert’s Way

A writer’s heart, a poet’s heart, an artist’s heart, a musician’s heart is always breaking. It is through that broken window that we see the world.
– Alice Walker

I wished to escape from this reengineered world into what can only be identified as the wild. Wildness might be considered as the rootedness of the authentic spontaneities of any being.
– Thomas Berry

Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself.
– Cicero

You, stopping me
from carving our initials
into a tree, whispering
“Everything that grows
already knows who we are.”
– Andrea Gibson

[T]he facts that make the world real—these depend on the unreal in order to be recognized by it.
– Ingeborg Bachmann

If you’ve been working on a computer all morning, please go stretch. Just pop a quick child’s pose. Or roll your neck, very slowly and intentionally.
– Mary Annaïse Heglar

I really hate the phrase “the era of climate change.”

Climate change is not an era like the “jazz era” or the “cold war era”—a collection of decades marked by a special concern.

Unless we stop using fossil fuels, it’s the entire unravelling of our civilization, starting now.
– Dr. Genevieve Guenther

We celebrate people at the end of their recovery journies when they achieve some big success after going through hell. But people deserve to be celebrated every step of the way. Especially at the beginning. Those are some of the hardest steps we ever take
– Jesse Z Mann

Find joy in everything you choose to do. Every job, relationship, home… it’s your responsibility to love it, or change it.
– Chuck Palahniuk

I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them.
– Ian L. Fleming

Most executives, many scientists, and almost all business school graduates believe that if you analyze data, this will give you new ideas. Unfortunately, this belief is totally wrong. The mind can only see what it is prepared to see.
– Edward de Bono, Serious Creativity

When anybody criticizes you, just remember, no monuments were ever made in honor of a critic.
– @TrainingMindful

The rapid and worldwide growth of a psychological interest over the last two decades shows unmistakably that modern man is turning his attention from outward material things to his own inner processes.
– CG Jung

The ultimate goal of Jungian psychotherapy is to make the symbolic process conscious.
– Edward Edinger

A poem’s logic is not the poem’s ideas so much as it is the unique mental process that puts the ideas into motion. The best thing a poem can do is give you temporary Virtual Reality immersion in someone else’s brain.
– Max Ritvo

Trust that a poem isn’t always what happens in the words but is the trace that the words leave inside you as it vanishes—
– Alice Oswald

Some people talk shit about the old you because they no longer have access to the new you and it distracts them from feeling guilty about what they did to you.
– Inner Practitioner

The wisdom of our ancestors is clear: if we do not take the journey inward to discover who we are, the creative potential within us will implode and we will destroy ourselves and the world.
– Betty J. Kovacs

Nobody has yet discovered the language that could express instantaneously what we perceive at a glance: an entire human being, with its myriads of little movements, which appear in a few words, a laugh, a gesture.
– Nathalie Sarraute, The Planetarium (tr. Maria Jolas)

He offended over 1.366 billion people because he thought he could get away with it. He could claim it was a joke, and I would reply, but it wasn’t funny. Why? Jokes are stories and require structure and intelligence; both were missing.
– Min Jin Lee

Foucault says that his books are for him experiences in the full sense of the word, since from them he himself came out transformed.
– Peter Pál Pelbart

I can’t make myself believe in a fundamental difference between people… I always believe […] that somewhere, farther down, everyone is alike… […] Right away I feel that I’m like them, as soon as I take off my carapace, this thin varnish…
– N. Sarraute, The Planetarium

A single insight that arises naturally from inside your own psyche is of greater benefit to you than all the wisdom given to you by another person, whoever the may be.
– Richard Rudd

In Mojave, our words for want and need are the same – because why would you want what you don’t need?
– @NatalieGDiaz

Personal power has nothing to do with dominating others, it’s about knowing and accepting ourselves.
– Allan Beveridge

all sound disappears
in the rivers meeting
clear water
– Buson

I was seeing something that would only make sense later – I mean, something that only later would profoundly not make sense. Only later would I understand: what seems like a lack of meaning – that’s the meaning.
– Clarice Lispector, The Passion According to G.H.

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks—who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering… There goes aSainte-Terrer,’ a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander.
– Henry David Thoreau, Walking

We need to disinfect ourselves from fear.
– Carlos Santana

Responding to level two issues with level ten intensity is a trauma response.

Breathe. You’re safe.
– Dr. Thema

Mainstream medicine is firmly committed to better life through chemistry. The fact that we can change our physiology and inter equilibrium by means other than drugs is rarely considered.
– Bessel Van Der Kolk MD

Compartmentalize, compartmentalize, against the dying of the light
– Derek Heckman

Trauma results in a fundamental reorganization of how mind and body manage perceptions. It changes not only how we think and what we think about but also our very capacity to think.
– Bessel Van Der Kolk

One ambition of poetry, certainly, is to create a reverberant silence in its wake, one that means more or differently than the silence that preceded the poem.
– Mark Doty

August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.
– Sylvia Plath

Trees could solve the problems if people trying to improve things would only allow them to takeover.
– Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees

May you stop manifesting things from a place of fear.
– @SayItValencia

Academia has changed so much so fast that advice from older colleagues isn’t always helpful. The best mentorship often comes from peers who earned their degrees in the same historically specific version of the profession.

One can say that it’s a distinguishing mark of poetical genius to know a great deal more than he knows he knows.
– August Schlegel

Entrepreneurs shape how new eras in business are created – and influence the ways that we can personally and collectively impact the world.
– Simone Wright

every great artist seems so different from all the rest, and gives us so strongly that sensation of individuality for which we seek in vain in our everyday existence
– Marcel Proust

Making art in America is about saving one’s soul.
– Charles Simic

Trauma unbalances chakras.
– Bohemian Bodhisattva

Vietnam helped me to look at the horror and terror in the hearts of people and realize how we can’t aim guns and set booby traps for people we have never spoken a word to. That kind of impersonal violence mystifies me.
– Yusef Komunyakaa

We are able to live
Only because some things have been said

– George Oppen

Resting is not a waste of time. It’s an investment in well-being.

Relaxing is not a sign of laziness. It’s a source of energy.

Breaks are not a distraction. They’re a chance to refocus attention.

Play is not a frivolous activity. It’s a path to connection and creativity.

– Adam Grant

To be true to my weirdnesses.
– Sylvia Plath

One can only become a philosopher, not be one. As soon as one thinks one is a philosopher, one stops becoming one.
– Friedrich Schlegel

Be careful what you say. Words do not only describe reality. Words create reality.
– Desmond Tutu

We are against war and the sources of war.
We are for poetry and the sources of poetry.
– Muriel Rukeyser, The Life of Poetry

I was simply feeling, with an enormous effort, that the hope and the promise are fulfilled every instant. And that was terrifying, I was always afraid of being struck down by completion, I had always thought that completion is an end…
– Clarice Lispector

When we are connected to the tao, life ceases to be a struggle
– Mantak Chia

Once you acknowledge & grab onto the science, it inevitably carries you downstream. It becomes clear that, from any perspective — pragmatism, “fiscal responsibility,” conservationism, simple decency — radical action is less costly than the alternative.
– David Roberts

Framing all the world’s problems as the doing of a handful of powerful people is an oversimplification of human society & glosses over how the status quo is due to the majority of ppl being invested in hierarchies of power & ideas of wealth & elitism.

People often react violently to things that challenge the hierarchy of power they’ve internalized, including attacking people in closest proximity to them socially.

It’s not that things can’t change or don’t change but oppression exists b/c human societies constantly refashion it.//

The masses are not united in opposition to oppression, including their own. Many people cling to traditions, to their own position within the hierarchy, to their hope of acquiring wealth & power or to their desire to live vicariously thru/identify with those who already possess it.
– @BreeNewsome

As Joseph Campbell expressed it, one can spend one’s whole life climbing the ladder, only to realize that it had been placed against the wrong wall.~James Hollis
– Sophia

Being real will never ruin a real connection. Be real and let the world adapt.
– Inner Practitioner

Happiness is not old. Happiness is constantly renewing itself.
– Krishnamurti

Thoughts are the first step in creating something new.
– Bill Harris

As a former refugee, I urge y’all to rethink sharing images of people in their most difficult moments. Yes, we need to document and share stories, but there is a big difference between raising awareness and the commodification of human suffering.
– Ifrah Magan, PhD

Woke up with a real feeling that the old world is crumbling. Terrifying.

But also feeling optimistic about building something new.

Belief in basic human goodness has to be the North Star.

Mindfulness has to be the ground, and compassion has to be the compass.
– Ethan Nichtern

I mean, most lyric poems lead to some acknowledgment of death. In fact, most poems are dark and dreary affairs that have to do with death and dying, or loss of one sort or another—loss of love, loss of friends, loss of life.
– Mark Strand

Don’t apologize for outgrowing your circle.
– @YouRedefined

Life is the result of the struggle between dynamic opposites
Form and chaos, substance and oblivion, light and dark
And all the infinite variations of Yin and Yang
When the pendulum swings in favour of one
It will eventually swing in favour of it’s opposite
– Bohemian Bodhisattva

I love myself in error and correctness.
– Toni Cade Bambara

I am
a cathedral of dead bolts
& I’d rather
burn myself down
than change the locks.

– Rachel McKibben, letter from my brain to my heart

Let them laugh at the old you while you level up and become the new you.
– @YouRedefined

Wearing a mask and thinking about others counts as writing.
– Heather Derr Smith

On my first day at the new job I scanned my whole body and could not find a/ name/
I felt like a biblical error, I had to lie down
– @heatherchristle

Suffering is not a mistake, a punishment, or a ‘sign’ that you are not ‘enlightened’ enough. It is a call for ruthless exploration.
– Jeff Foster

Heat and animosity, contest and conflict, may sharpen the wits, although they rarely do; they never strengthen the understanding, clear the perspicacity, guide the judgment, or improve the heart.
– Walter Savage Landor, Imaginary conversations

Any time someone explains zen or enlightenment with definitions or systems… run for your life.
– Violet Zen

Self-censorship .. is rampant. Debate is identified with dissent, which is in turn identified with disloyalty. There is a widespread feeling that, in this new, open-ended emergency, we may not be able to ‘afford’ our traditional freedoms.
– Susan Sontag

Either the United States will destroy ignorance, or ignorance will destroy the United States.
– W. E. B. Du Bois (1906)

To look at a thing is very different from seeing it.
– Oscar Wilde

poetry is just out here saving lives isn’t it
– aria aber

I’m diligent with my negligence, because you can’t negate what you clasp.
But I only ignore
delusional dialogues, mixed matched vibrations, and ill-intentions versions of me in the mirror.
Projections from a consciousness that doesn’t know that it is one.
– Bohemian Bodhisattva

He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven.
– Sophia

A friend told me recently that Louise Glück preferred her poems to be read silently on the page rather than aloud, so the eye could go back, retrace—I understand that impulse, certainly, and yet…a poem unvoiced feels to me like a poem with a fatal wound.
– @TomSnarsky

Consciousness is never static or complete but an unending process of movement and unfoldment.
– David Bohm

Whatever is at the center of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, and power.
– Stephen Covey

Cory Booker is who we thought he was.
– Nyasha Junior, Ph.D.

If you’re an educator reading this, your friendly disabled professor of Disability Studies hereby grants you the power to distribute accommodations to any student, for any reason, at any time, regardless of their affiliation with Disability Services, from now until you die.
– J. Logan Smilges

This is deathless: the liberation of the mind through lack of clinging.
– Buddha

A word is elegy to what it signifies.
– Robert Hass

i wasn’t made for a nine to five i was made for 99 luftballons
– Kristen Arnett

I’m well aware of the clusterfuck of special hells we find ourselves in, believe me. But it’s still primarily poetry and flowers in my public feeds, and so it shall remain. Poetry and flowers: endurance technologies.
– Dana Levin

in the dawn
a dewy blue
flax field
– Ogawa

The great illusion of leadership is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there.
– Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer

When you follow the wellness rabbit hole all the way down the wellness path becomes a spiritual path. Because the mind and body are one. Disease and problems in the body almost always have a root in trapped emotions and unaligned thoughts and actions.
– @Bodhi_Bohemian

…if you look at quantum mechanics carefully, it is clear that the mechanistic view does not really work properly.
– David Bohm

A third of the country is holding the other two-thirds hostage. Preventing us from beating the pandemic. From reaffirming we are a Democracy. From ending the carnage from guns. From accepting there are no alternative truths or facts. We need the 2/3 to unite. Not forever. But now
– David Plouffe

The exit
was always viable:

the shelter in dreams
the support in words

poems like burning nails
flying melodies: rise up, my soul…

behind the darkness,
a future in full color!

– Ingibjörg Haraldsdóttir

You know those blissful moments when you encounter someone or something real in this fake world? That’s enlightenment.
– Violet Zen

I think we need to invent a new kind of emotion for this stage of the pandemic, like emptysad, or ghost-tired
– Amber Sparks

What you say: we’re fucked
What I hear: as long as patriarchy, white supremacy, empire & industrial growth economics hold we’re fucked, but with global cooperation, well-being economics, multi-racial democracy, ecosystem restoration & Indigenous rights, possibilities open
– Dr. Elizabeth Sawin

“Designing Women” is better than “The Golden Girls,” there I said it.
– jacqui shine

The awakened disconnect from mainstream news because they are no longer hypnotized by fear and control.

Alignment and compassion become more important than right or wrong and identification of victim or perpetrator.

A fertile solitude is a benign forgetting of the body that takes care of itself… A productive solitude, the solitude in which what could never have been anticipated appears, is linked with a quality of attention.
– Adam Phillips, On Risk and Solitude

Once you gave up the nervous craving to promote yourself, denigrate others, draw attention to your unique and special qualities, and ensure that you were first in the pecking order, you experienced an immense peace.
– Karen Armstrong

A paradox is something that initially looks like a contradiction, but if you go deeper with it & hold it longer it isn’t necessarily so. Holding out for a reconciling third, allows a very different perspective and gives a different pair of eyes beyond mere either/or.
– Richard Rohr

Teach love, for that is what you are.
– George Eliot

Since I had no words to bring the woman I loved so much, I gave her all my tenderness.
– Leslie Feinberg, Stone Butch Blues

Insecure people pretend to know things they don’t. They dismiss expertise from others.

Secure people admit what they don’t know. They defer to expertise in others.

Proactive people take the initiative to learn what they don’t know. They acquire expertise from others.
– Adam Grant

Deep down you just want to be loved in a way that calms your soul.
– r.h. Sin

You deserve someone who is terrified to lose you.
– r.h. Sin

One of my long-time students, a Colombian native, shared this with me recently:

If you asked me what meditation practice would be the ‘best’ to introduce people
from culturas latinoamericanas to meditation, I would say social meditation.
– Vince Horn

Alone, by herself she built the kingdom that she wanted.
– r.h. Sin

Dreamt the first sentence of gravity’s rainbow was “I don’t think the Home Depot will ever stop expanding.
– Blake Butler

The choice of a narrative style, of a grammatical tense, of a rhythm of phrasing, of a vocabulary carries more weight than the actual story.
– Robbe-Grillet

Gary Snyder:
I try to hold both history and wilderness in mind, that my poems may approach the true measure of things and stand against the unbalance and ignorance of our times.

Me: What is a Buddha?

Zen Master Folk: There isn’t a consensus.
– Vince Fakhoury Horn

If you cannot be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
– Unknown

I think it is healing behavior, to look at something so broken and see the possibility and wholeness in it.
– Adrienne Maree Brown, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds

All night long, I chant his weird song over and over like a crazy heart. Dripping drops of time, the tune flies far from the propaganda of a human life.
– Quyên Nguyễn-Hoàng

Alone, by herself she built the kingdom that she wanted.
– r.h. Sin

Dreamt the first sentence of gravity’s rainbow was “I don’t think the Home Depot will ever stop expanding”
– blake butler

If you cannot be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
– Unknown

I think it is healing behavior, to look at something so broken and see the possibility and wholeness in it.
– Adrienne Maree Brown

What you have learned through books, through the say-so of others, is not real, it is only repetition. And what is repeated is not truth any longer.
– Krishnamurti

American Tanka

I heard the neighbors
in Virginia called the cops
on the cicadas.
They sounded like car alarms.
For real. You think I’m joking.
– @olicketysplit

You don’t need coffee; you need sleep.
You don’t need nicotine; you need to walk.
You don’t need to get drunk; you need to laugh out loud.
You don’t need wild sex; you need connection.
You don’t need to scream; you need to express yourself.
You don’t need to tragic; you need to listen.
You don’t need synthetic drugs; you need art.
You don’t need stimulants; you need a hug.
You don’t need TV; you need poetry.
You don’t need to buy; you need Nature.
You don’t need to judge, you need empathy.
You don’t need religions; you need questions.
You don’t need a partner; you need self love.
You need your self.
I need me.
Above everything you need inner peace, which requires harmony between the inside and the outside.
Do what you believe and believe in what you do.
– Tad Hargrave

When you’re working very hard you’re not lonely; you are the whole damn world.
– Shelby Foote

The worst approach to suffering
is to try to make it go away,
and the worst approach to happiness
is to try to make it stay.
– Max Ritvo

Gentle reader, may you never feel what I then felt! May your eyes never shed such stormy, scalding, heart-wrung tears as poured from mine. May you never appeal to Heaven in prayers so hopeless and so agised as in that hour left my lips: for never may you, like me, dread to be the instrument of evil to what you wholly love.
– Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Train in Indivisibility

As I have mentioned numerous times, the way to train in the unity of development and completion is to begin any visualization with the samadhi of suchness, recognizing your own nature and remaining in that. In that very moment, you are actually in the state of the primordially pure essence. The samadhi of illumination then occurs as the natural expression of rigpa. Mind-essence is the unity of being empty and cognizant. The empty aspect is the samadhi of suchness, the primordial purity, the dharmakaya. From this, the spontaneously present phenomena manifest, and this is the second, the samadhi of illumination. The unobstructed cognizant aspect is the samadhi of illumination, the sambhogakaya. Thus, emptiness has a compassionate flavor. The expression of the primordially pure essence, the unconstructed nature, is naturally compassionate. These two—emptiness and compassion—are indivisible. That is the vital point.

To repeat, the empty quality is primordial purity, and the manifest aspect is a spontaneous, compassionate presence. This unity of emptiness and compassion is the basis of all dharma practice, and it is this unity that takes the form of the seed syllable. That is the third samadhi, the samadhi of the seed syllable, which is the nirmanakaya. The unity of being empty and compassionate appears as the seed syllable that is the spiritual life force of the deity you are practicing. For example, if you are practicing Guru Rinpoche, his spiritual life force is HRIH.

Once the seed syllable appears, it sends out E, which is the seed syllable of space, and then YAM for wind, RAM for fire, KAM for water, LAM for earth, SUM for Mt. Sumeru, and finally BHRUM for the celestial palace at the top of Mt. Sumeru. Next, the syllable HRIH descends like a shooting star, lands on the throne within the celestial palace, and transforms into the deity. All this takes place without having to leave behind the state of mind-essence. Without leaving the empty suchness samadhi of rigpa behind, the compassionate illumination of spontaneous presence unfolds unobstructedly from the primordially pure essence. The development stage can take place while recognizing mind-essence, since its expression is unobstructed. If the essence were obstructed, the development stage could not arise; but it isn’t so. The development stage is allowed to develop, to manifest, without harming the primordial purity one bit. Without moving away from unchanging primordial purity, the spontaneous presence, the expression of awareness, takes place. This is the indivisibility of primordial purity and spontaneous presence.

This is also why development and completion are basically a unity. The developed in development stage refers to “what is formed as an expression of unobstructed awareness.” Thought, on the other hand, can obstruct rigpa. When the expression moves as thought, there is delusion. Ordinary thinking is the process of forming one thought, then thinking of something else, and so on, incessantly. The new thought interrupts the previous one, and the next thought interrupts that one. True development stage is not like that at all. The key point lies in this unobstructed quality of rigpa; the samadhi of illumination does not cut off the samadhi of suchness. The seed syllable manifesting in the middle of space doesn’t obstruct the compassionate emptiness. In fact, it is the expression of compassionate emptiness. Thus, you are not only allowed to let visualization unfold out of compassionate emptiness; it is the real way to practice.

This type of development stage takes place without having to leave behind the state of mind-essence. There is no need to avoid recognizing mind-essence in order to think of these things; let them unfold naturally. Simply allow the visualization to unfold out of compassionate emptiness, the unity of empty cognizance. This is called “letting development stage unfold out of the completion stage.” In this way, there is no real separation between them. Otherwise, a common misunderstanding is that the development stage steals the completion stage, and that later you have to kick out the development stage to give the completion stage a chance. Similarly, when you start to think of one thing, the previous thought disappears. That is called “visualizing with dualistic mind.”

This is how it may seem in the beginning, when you are being taught, but, really, it isn’t like that at all. The reason is that primordial purity and spontaneous presence are a natural unity; they cannot really be divided. If they weren’t a unity, you would have only primordial purity, a void state where nothing can take place, or a spontaneous presence that was the same as dualistic mind. There would be a battle between dharmakaya and sambhogakaya. In actuality, there is no conflict, because spontaneous presence is indivisible from primordial purity. You are not only definitely allowed to let the development stage unfold from within the completion stage, but also it is perfectly all right and permissible to do so. There is no conflict between the two. As a famous saying goes, “Some say development stage is right. Others say completion stage is right. They pitch development against completion.”

The unity of emptiness and cognizance has an unobstructed capacity. If it were obstructed, we wouldn’t be able to know anything. It would be a total blank. If cognizance and emptiness were not a unity, one of them would occur when thinking and the other when not thinking. Conceptual thought obstructs, and confines; this is how development and completioncan be obstructed. However, the expression of awareness is unimpeded. If this were not so, rigpa would not have any capacity. But the essence does have a capacity. The dharmakaya and sambhogakaya do manifest.

Dharmakaya is a totally unconstructed state, and sambhogakaya is the great enjoyment, meaning an abundance of perfect qualities. From the empty essence of primordial purity, the spontaneously present nature manifests unobstructedly. Likewise, we are allowed to practice the development stage unobstructedly. Otherwise, without the samadhi of suchness, development stage would be an imitation. We might even think the wrathful deities were literally angry!

Rainbows give us a very good way to understand this. When a rainbow appears in the sky, it doesn’t damage the empty sky at all, and yet the rainbow is totally visible. It doesn’t change the sky or hurt it in the slightest. It’s exactly the same when recognizing the essence of mind, which has been pointed out as being utterly empty. That is the samadhi of suchness. That recognition doesn’t have to be left behind in order for cognizance, the samadhi of illumination, to be present; it is spontaneously present by nature. That is true compassion. The sky is the samadhi of suchness, while the rainbow is the samadhi of illumination, the development stage. There is no fight between space and a rainbow, is there? It’s exactly like that. First of all, you need to know the samadhi of suchness. Having recognized that, the expression of awareness arises from the essence as the development stage. It is not like construction work. Like the rainbow appearing in the sky, the expression of awareness is the perfect unity of development and completion stages.

Applying this approach is not always possible for every practitioner. The next best way is when you think of one detail at a time, like the head of the deity, the arms, the legs, the body, the attributes, and so forth. Every once in a while, you’ll recognize who is visualizing, and again you’ll arrive at the state of original empty wakefulness. Then again thinkof some visualized details, and again recognize, alternating back and forth between the two. That is called the “next best,” the medium way of practicing. The least, or minimum, requirement is to first think that everything becomes empty. Recite the mantra OM MAHA SUNYATA … and after that say, “From the state of emptiness, such-and-such appears.” In this way, think of one thing at a time, and at the end of the sadhana, again dissolve the whole thing into emptiness. These are three ways to practice development and completion together.

However, while again and again recognizing your buddha-nature, you can allow the visualization to take place unobstructedly. There is no law that you have to think of one thing after another. The expression of awareness is unobstructed. It is not like bricklaying, where one puts things on top of each other in a very concrete way. Whatever unfolds out of the samadhi of suchness is like a rainbow. The celestial palace and the deities are all like rainbows. This rainbow manifestation doesn’t have to somehow block off the space in which it unfolds. It is not necessary at all. The first two samadhis are the unity of primordial purity and spontaneous presence. In the seed samadhi, the word seed means it is the “source” or “origin” of the whole mandala and all the deities. The seed syllable is also called the “life-essence of the mind,” the deity’s mental life force. As mentioned before, for Guru Rinpoche, that is the syllable HRIH, which begins the visualization. But remember, this hrih and whatever follows are not tangible or material.

The authentic way of practicing is to let visualizations of the development state unfold out of the samadhi of suchness. That is the best, foremost way. The samadhi of suchness is the dharmakaya state. The samadhi of illumination is the sambhogakaya state, and the seed samadhi is the nirmanakaya state. In actuality, all of samsara and nirvana unfold from the expanse of the three kayas. This is the example for the unity ofdevelopment and completion stages.

Here is another way to understand development stage. All things take place from within the space of the five mothers, meaning the five female buddhas. The five elements are empty yet the cognizant quality knows them. This perceiving quality is the male buddha Samantabhadra, the yab, while the empty quality is the female buddha Samantabhadri, the yum. The outer objects, the five elements, are not the perceivers; they are the empty aspect. In actuality, the five elements are the five female buddhas. In the impure state, we perceive them as being earth, fire, water, wind, and space, but they are, in fact, the properties of the five female buddhas. In this way, everything in this world is already the mandala of the five female buddhas. Within this type of celestial palace is the pure nature of the five aggregates, the five male buddhas. We are not inventing anything here; this is our basic state as it is. Mind and phenomena, the experiencer and the experienced, are Samantabhadra and consort. In the development stage, we don’t perpetuate ordinary impure perception in any way whatsoever. Everything is regarded as the pure wisdom deities, the unity of experience and emptiness.

All phenomena are already, by nature, the unity of experience and emptiness. All experiences, all things in this world and in your life, are already the unity of experience and emptiness. There is nothing that is not empty. The essence of development is the experiencing aspect. The essence of completion is the empty aspect. These two are primordially a unity. There is nothing impure whatsoever. This is how everything already is. Therefore, everything already takes place as the unity of development stage and completion stage. When practicing development and completion stages, you are training yourself in seeing things as they actually are. You are seeing as it is, not as pure fantasy that has no basis whatsoever.

Dzogchen has two quintessential principles: primordial purity and spontaneous presence. Primordial purity is the empty aspect and spontaneous presence is the experiencing aspect. These are an original unity. When training in development stage and completion stage, we train in manifesting as a pure form, which is already the case. This is the basic situation of everything, how it really is. Reality is already the unity of male and female buddhas, in the sense of the indivisibility of primordial purity and spontaneous presence. The whole mandala with the deity is a display of primordial purity indivisible from spontaneous presence.

This indivisible unity also appears as the deities in the bardo. Likewise, the deities in Tögal practice are the unity of primordial purity and spontaneous presence. In these two instances, the mandala of the deities of your own body arise, or manifest, like rainbows in the sky. These deities are five-colored lights, as a sign of the indivisibility of primordial purity and spontaneous presence. In both cases, these things are as they are; you don’t need to think that what isn’t, is. Your own deities appear to you.

From the perspective of the manifest aspect of buddha-nature, the deities can be said to abide in our body. These deities of the development stage do appear to us in the bardo and in Tögal practice. Our own deities manifest to us. In terms of the essence of our mind, nonexistence is primordial purity; existence is spontaneous presence. Our essence is the unity of existence and nonexistence. The deities are the experienced aspect; this is how things are. This is the preciousness of development stage; it is not an unimportant point.

If, in the state of primordial purity, there were no aspect of experiencing spontaneous presence, nothing would happen. However, this is not the case, because these two, primordial purity and spontaneous presence, are a unity. Primordial purity means the “absence,” no concrete thing, the empty quality, whereas spontaneous presence meansthe “presence.” It is not a case of having “only absence” or “only presence;” they are indivisible. The primordial indivisibility of absence and presence is a very good example. Experience and emptiness are a unity. The experiencing aspect is development, and the empty aspect is completion. The rainbow in the sky is not tangible, but it’s still visible. There is no “thing,” and yet there is something. That is a very good example. Also, rainbows only appear in the sky. You don’t have rainbows in wood or in stone, and so on.

All phenomena are the unity of existence and nonexistence. Primordial purity and spontaneous presence are a unity. The kayas and wisdoms are a unity. There is a quote that goes, “All the scriptures say that everything is empty, but the fact that our nature is not empty of the kayas and wisdoms, that is the real tradition of the Buddha.” This is how it really is. In the second turning of the wheel of dharma, the Buddha said that everything, from the aggregate of form all the way up to and including omniscient enlightenment, is empty and devoid of self-entity. Of course
that is correct, but it is not the full truth; that statement emphasizes the empty quality. Liberation is only possible through realizing the basic unity of emptiness and experience. Like space, the empty aspect cannot get liberated.

All phenomena are the unity of experience and emptiness. Without the experience aspect, the kayas and wisdoms would be hidden and would never manifest. Kayas and wisdoms are very important principles. It is said, “If the kayas and wisdoms are empty, there is no fruition.” If the state of fruition is empty, it is just like space, which is called “nothing whatsoever.” Just like space means there’s “nothing to understand, nothing there.” Think about this. Everything is of course empty, but not empty of the kayas and wisdoms, in the sense that they are nonexistent or absent. If the kayas and wisdoms were absent, there would be no twenty-five attributes of fruition. If they were absent, how could there be fivekayas, five types of speech, five wisdoms, five qualities, and five activities? The twenty-five attributes of fruition are not some kind of
concrete material substance. There is ground, path, and fruition—not only ground and path. If everything were empty, there wouldn’t be the two kayas of dharmakaya and rupakaya. The dharmakaya—free from constructs, like space—is defined as “dissolved yet unobscured.” Dissolved here means “totally free of all disturbing emotions.” At the same time, wisdom, meaning “original wakefulness,” is unobscured. That is the meaning of dissolved yet unobscured. This is also called the “dharmakaya of basic brilliance.” Dharmakaya is not empty or devoid
of a cognizant quality.

Furthermore, in terms of experience, dharmakaya is primordially the unity of experience and emptiness. Primordial purity is the empty aspect, while spontaneous presence is the experience aspect. These two are a unity. That is why we say that the kayas and wisdoms are a unity. Dharmakaya is a body of space, free from constructs. Sambhogakaya is a body like a rainbow. The five buddhas of the five families are called the “bodies of the wisdoms of distinguished characteristics”—white, red, yellow, green, and blue, the five lights.

Once again, first there are two kayas: dharmakaya and rupakaya. The rupakaya consists of two types: the sambhogakaya, which is of rainbow light, and the nirmanakaya, which is a material body of flesh and blood possessing the six elements.

If we claim everything is empty, then who would there be to know that? There wouldn’t be anything. There would be no wisdom, no original wakefulness. The wakefulness knowing the original nature is a type of knowing that does not depend on an object. Thought, on the otherhand, cannot stir without depending upon an object. When you say original wakefulness, (yeshe,) or wisdom, by definition it signifies “a knowing that has no object.” When you say thought, (namshey,) itsignifies “a knowing that has the structure of subject and object.” Yeshe is a knowing that doesn’t fixate in a dualistic way, whereas our ordinary knowing is dualistic fixation. Dualistic fixation should be destroyed. That is the whole reason why we strive so diligently in meditation and recognize mind-essence. Yeshe is primordial knowing. We get used to primordial knowing by recognizing our essence as primordial purity. Nondualistic wakefulness destroys dualistic fixation. When dualistic fixation is destroyed, deluded experience falls apart, and all conceptual activity collapses. We should become completely clear and resolved about this.

Ultimately, the vital point is the difference between consciousness and wakefulness, namshey and yeshe. Consciousness is a way of knowing in which there is subject and object and in which the subject gets involved in the object. The state of realization of all the buddhas, on the other hand, is a primordial knowing that is independent from an object. Trekchö training reveals this state of realization. If we, on the other hand, believe that our basic state is only empty, a blank empty state, this emptiness wouldn’t possess any qualities. But the qualities are primordially present. This original wakefulness, yeshe, is inconceivable. The Dzogchen teachings describe it either as the unity of being empty and cognizant or as the unity of being aware and empty. Of course, the dualistic consciousness is also empty and cognizant, but it is suffused with ignorance, with unknowing. Ignorance means “not knowing rigpa.” Yeshe is empty cognizance suffused with knowing.

In actuality, all that appears and exists, all worlds and beings, are the mandala of the five male and female buddhas, the mandala of the victorious ones. This is simply how it already is, and that is how we train ourselves in seeing things, by means of the development stage. To recognize rigpa is the true way to acknowledge what is, as it is. At that moment, experience, in itself, is already the mandala of the male andfemale buddhas, without us having to think it is. When we don’t recognize rigpa, then it isn’t, even though, essentially, it is. When we merely think it is, that is only a pretense—even though, based on this pretense, called “ordinary development stage,” we can realize rigpa, in actuality, since whatever appears and exists is already the mandala of the victorious ones.

Development stage is a training in what really is. The perceiving quality is the yab and the empty quality is the yum. These two are an indivisible unity. This is the fundamental mandala of all the victorious ones, of all buddhas. This unity of experience and emptiness is also the source of the ordinary body, speech, and mind of sentient beings. Sentient beings, however, are not simply ordinary body, speech, and mind. We possess the enlightened body, speech, and mind as well; we just don’t recognize this. Still, it is not enough to pretend this is so. We can pretend to be a buddha, but still we won’t be enlightened by thinking, “I am a buddha.” We need to authentically acknowledge what actually is. Even though our world is a nirmanakaya buddhafield, we need to also know it.

There are the six munis, one for each of the six realms of samsara. There is Dharmaraja for the hell beings, Khala Mebar for the hungry ghosts, Senge Rabten for the animals, Shakyamuni for the humans, Taksangri for the demigods, and Shakra for the gods. Each of the six realms of samsara is in fact a nirmanakaya buddhafield. Even though this is so, beings don’t know it. We need to know that our nature is an unconfined empty cognizance. Knowing this to be as it is is the mandala of the victorious ones—just as the buddhas know it to be. However, we have fallen under the power of wrong views and distorted concepts, and we are wandering about in the confused states of samsara.

The four lines for ultimate bodhichitta, included in the preliminary practices of Kunzang Tuktig, say,

I and the six classes of beings, all living things,
Are buddhas from the very beginning.
By the nature of knowing this to be as it is,
I form the resolve towards supreme enlightenment.

By the nature of knowing this to be as it is, means “seeing reality as it is.” It means that whatever appears and exists is already all?encompassing purity, the mandala of the victorious ones. It is not only something we pretend it to be. However, it only becomes true when recognizing the natural state. Otherwise, we don’t see it as it really is. Our ignorance of the unknowing, grasping at duality, and getting involved in the three poisons obscures the all-encompassing purity of what appears and exists. The difference lies entirely between knowing and not knowing. When we recognize our nature as pointed out by a master, then we know what is to be as it is. We then train in this, in the state of original wakefulness unspoiled by dualistic fixation.

To recognize self-existing wakefulness is to see things as they are. This is unlike taking a white conch shell to be yellow; there is no way that this is so. When you have jaundice, you see a conch as being yellow. The conch definitely isn’t yellow; it never was, but the gall in the body makes your eye yellow, so you see white as yellow, even though it isn’t. This exemplifies confusion, the mistakenness of sentient beings. We don’t see things as they really are.

Since I and all other sentient beings are buddhas from the very beginning, I resolve to attain supreme enlightenment by the power of recognizing this to be as it is, by the ultimate bodhichitta. This is the way of acknowledging the all-encompassing purity of all that appears and exists. All-encompassing purity abides within us.

According to the Dzogchen teachings, the state of primordial enlightenment has never been confused. The basic state of buddhas is like pure gold that is not covered by any dirt. Dirt is an example of the confused thinking that temporarily takes place. If the gold always remains pure, there is no cleaning to be done and there is no achievement of purity, because it already is like that from the beginning. The state of primordial enlightenment is analogous, because self-existing wakefulness was never confused. If there is no being confused, how can we use the phrase being liberated? It is impossible, because liberation is totally dependent upon having been confused. Since the awakened state of the buddhas is not confused, you cannot really say that buddhas become liberated either. We can clear up confusion because we’ve been mistaken. Unless there is confusion, it is not possible to be liberated.

We sentient beings have the same self-existing wakefulness as the buddhas. There is no difference whatsoever in our natures. However, the self-existing wakefulness of the buddhas, all the infinite qualities, never became confused, like the gold that never became tainted. Even though we possess the same gold, ours fell in the dirt. Not knowing this dirty gold to be intrinsically pure, we fell under the power of confused thinking. This is what obscured us: our thinking. The gold of the buddhas was known to be what it is. Buddhas do not have discursive thinking. It won’t help us sentient beings to act as if we were primordially pure gold, if we have already become confused and are now unaware of our own nature. It doesn’t become true. We have to apply the practice we have, of first recognizing the view, then training in meditation, and acting in accordance with that as the conduct—thus realizing it fully as fruition. This practice is like the special chemicals that clean away dirt from gold. In other words, view, meditation, and conduct remove the confusion.

In recognizing our nature, the confusion is liberated. For buddhas, neither the words confusion nor liberation apply. The word confusion connotes “bewilderment, being mistaken, deluded.” Confusion is nothing other than the expression of rigpa that has moved in a mistaken way. As long as you are confusing yourself by your awareness being extroverted, nobody else can ever solve that. There is only you, right? Otherwise, confusion goes on and on. That is exactly what samsara is, confusion going on and on. Even though we sentient beings are buddhas, we are
like the dirt-encrusted gold; we don’t recognize the gold for what it is, due to deluded thinking. In our basic essence, there is no thinking; the essence is wakefulness that is pure from the beginning. By recognizing your buddha-nature, the three kayas become an actuality.

The empty essence is dharmakaya, and the cognizant nature is sambhogakaya—awareness and the expression of awareness. We need to allow the expression of awareness, of rigpa, to be liberated. It is said that nirmanakaya recognizes sambhogakaya, which in turn recognizes dharmakaya. In awareness itself, there is neither the word liberation nor confusion. It is the expression that has fallen into conceptualizing. If the expression of rigpa recognizes itself, it dawns as knowledge, sherab. This is not the ordinary knowledge that is the outcome of learning, reflecting, and meditating. It is the real prajnaparamita, “transcendent knowledge,” the expression of awareness recognizing itself. In that moment, the expression of awareness dissolves back into awareness, and there is only the state of rigpa, which is identical to the state of primordial enlightenment of all buddhas, the state that never strayed from itself.

A famous and important quotation describes this, “When the expression moves as thinking, it is confused. When the expression dawns as knowledge, it is liberated.” That doesn’t mean there was ever any difference in the state of the essence, rigpa. The state of rigpa, buddha-nature itself, is never confused and never liberated. The confusion and liberation can only take place in the expression.

The state of original enlightenment is the essence itself, where there is no confusion and no liberation. The state of sentient beings is to be constantly absorbed in confused thinking. It is the expression, the thinking that can be liberated again. Yet, all the time, the essence was never different from that of any other buddha. That is the important point: recognize your own essence. That is also the key point in the first samadhi of suchness. Real development stage practice is not possible without the samadhi of suchness, and this suchness is not recognized without first having the nature of mind pointed out.
– Tulku Urgyen Karma Orgyen Tsewang Chokdrub Pelbar

If there was a mask that prevented people from hearing about LGBTQ+ issues, climate change, systemic inequality, and racism—most Republicans would double-mask without complaint.
– The Subversive Lens

The most important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on learning.
– John Dewey

I don’t care about
any of the words
on the map besides
– Andrea Gibson

Gary Gach


( “ Que no quiero verla “
– Lorca )

“We all start out with our heart
on the left.”
That syllogism
logic ! So
it’s not as if you hadn’t
faced death down –
choosing life
& again
as “ mendicant
in mint “
on this epic 18”-pilgrimage
from the head
to the heart.
long long ago
you knew your voiceprint
could make native speakers weep
in their mother tongues.
But first
there were the already entrenched dipthongs
of the shuck & jive minstrel show to break free from,
the glitz of entertainment that’s replaced art
& the hustle of the Yankee dollar that’s become
politics as usual
– so as to come into your true calling
as people’s prophet of a better day
right now
morning after morning
until one night
in an eternally unknowable dream –
as intimate
as a vein, as sudden as a heartbeat –
perhaps you
became breathlessly awoke to the ancestors
one more time
breathing you
in the truth of the houseless vet’s Thank You
in the new eyes shining over the rim of the buggy
in the deathless sincerity of peace & love & justice’s
universally silent consonants


The mystic seeks the whole.
– Martin Luther King Jr.

At some point in the next few months, the crisis will be declared over, and we will be able to return to our “nonessential” jobs. For many, this will be like waking from a dream.

The media and political classes will definitely encourage us to think of it this way. This is what happened after the 2008 financial crash. There was a brief moment of questioning. (What is “finance,” anyway? Isn’t it just other people’s debts? What is money? Is it just debt, too? What’s debt? Isn’t it just a promise? If money and debt are just a collection of promises we make to each other, then couldn’t we just as easily make different ones?) The window was almost instantly shut by those insisting we shut up, stop thinking, and get back to work, or at least start looking for it.

Last time, most of us fell for it. This time, it is critical that we do not.

Because, in reality, the crisis we just experienced was waking from a dream, a confrontation with the actual reality of human life, which is that we are a collection of fragile beings taking care of one another, and that those who do the lion’s share of this care work that keeps us alive are overtaxed, underpaid, and daily humiliated, and that a very large proportion of the population don’t do anything at all but spin fantasies, extract rents, and generally get in the way of those who are making, fixing, moving, and transporting things, or tending to the needs of other living beings. It is imperative that we not slip back into a reality where all this makes some sort of inexplicable sense, the way senseless things so often do in dreams.

How about this: Why don’t we stop treating it as entirely normal that the more obviously one’s work benefits others, the less one is likely to be paid for it; or insisting that financial markets are the best way to direct long-term investment even as they are propelling us to destroy most life on Earth?

Why not instead, once the current emergency is declared over, actually remember what we’ve learned: that if “the economy” means anything, it is the way we provide each other with what we need to be alive (in every sense of the term), that what we call “the market” is largely just a way of tabulating the aggregate desires of rich people, most of whom are at least slightly pathological, and the most powerful of whom were already completing the designs for the bunkers they plan to escape to if we continue to be foolish enough to believe their minions’ lectures that we were all, collectively, too lacking in basic common sense do anything about oncoming catastrophes.

This time around, can we please just ignore them?

Most of the work we’re currently doing is dream-work. It exists only for its own sake, or to make rich people feel good about themselves, or to make poor people feel bad about themselves. And if we simply stopped, it might be possible to make ourselves a much more reasonable set of promises: for instance, to create an “economy” that lets us actually take care of the people who are taking care of us.
– David Graeber

Once I had stability
which calmed
all the other variables.
I thought that
my constant had found me.
Is it only once in a lifetime,
and then forever a search
for what was lost?
Preparing, and working,
so that mistakes
that ruined
the first chance
will not be made again?
Wanting what was good.
Wanting what is gone.
The morning warmth
of a clean kitchen,
bread baking in an oven.
Wanting a small garden
behind a rented house
on the north side of town.
about good things
to do with tomatoes.
Pulling weeds from near
the young basil plants.
Her going to the university,
and me working my labor job…
– Steve Saroff

The French Revolution is the ultimate modernist statement. Destroy everything. Don’t build on the past. There is no past.
– John Corigliano

What threatens us today is fear. .. Our danger is the forces in the world today which are trying to use man’s fear to rob him of his individuality, his soul, trying to reduce him to an unthinking mass.
– William Faulkner

God is the behavior of the universe which has thus nurtured human life and which continues to keep it going and growing.
– Henry Nelson Wieman

Even though my primary source of protein is black beans, I still love this Chekhov quotation.

Chekhov wrote this to a friend in 1894:

electricity and steam show more love for humanity than chastity and vegetarianism.
– Jim Heynen

As time goes on, you’ll understand. What lasts, lasts; what doesn’t, doesn’t. Time solves most things. And what time can’t solve, you have to solve yourself.
– Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance

Nisargadatta: You can have for the asking all the peace you want.

Questioner: I am asking.

Nisargadatta: You must ask with an undivided heart and live an integrated life.

Questioner: How?

Nisargadatta: Detach yourself from all that makes your mind restless. Renounce all that disturbs its peace. If you want peace, deserve it.

Questioner: Surely everybody deserves peace

Nisargadatta: Those only deserve it, who don’t disturb it.

Questioner: In what way do I disturb peace?

Nisargadatta: By being a slave to your desires and fears.

Questioner: Even when they are justified?

Nisargadatta: Emotional reactions, born of ignorance or inadvertence, are never justified.

Seek a clear mind and a clean heart. All you need is to keep quietly alert, inquiring into the real nature of yourself. This is the only way to peace.
– Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Entering our dailyness half-heartedly, we get half-hearted lives. The every day is our temple. It needs every little bit of us for it to be whole hearted and noble i.e. august. Every tiny smidgeon counts!
– Gunilla Norris

I had something beautiful happen to me today. I’ve been working from a book that arranges classical pieces for flatpick-style guitar. I was reviewing one etude that I’ve memorized, but usually flub here and there because the memorization hasn’t fully set. I have to be focused on the piece for the memorization to come through. This morning I was sort of spaced out and didn’t feel like focusing, so I was reading the music in the book. Somewhere along the way I got totally lost in the page. I had no idea where I was. Instead of stopping, I said to my hand “go for it,” and it did. I let my hand take over and just watched as it played the rest of the piece perfectly. I didn’t do anything. I just watched. I couldn’t have done it deliberately. I had the right attitude in the moment when I let go. That’s Zen, and it’s real.
– Mark Bitner

You don’t need coffee; you need sleep.
You don’t need nicotine; you need to walk.
You don’t need to get drunk; you need to laugh out loud.
You don’t need wild sex; you need connection.
You don’t need to scream; you need to express yourself.
You don’t need to project; you need to listen.
You don’t need synthetic drugs; you need art.
You don’t need stimulants; you need a hug.
You don’t need TV; you need poetry.
You don’t need to buy; you need Nature.
You don’t need to judge, you need empathy.
You don’t need religions; you need questions.
You don’t need a partner; you need self love.
You need your self.
I need me.
Above everything you need inner peace, which requires harmony between the inside and the outside.
Do what you believe and believe in what you do.
– Tad Hargrave

I’ve dreamed a world with decentralized power, a much slower pace, more kindness, a timeline in which people can fall apart and hibernate, where rest isn’t a luxury, where gender is an abundant harvest instead of two darkly rigid lanes, where sanity is not the measure of worth, where no one is an outcast and we’re all responsible for each other, where friendships can survive mistakes and tension, where thick love is commonplace, where I can hold my love close no matter the skin they’re in.
– Eloghosa Osunde

Make little joy spots
in the Universe
with the way you speak,
love, beautify a space,
care for each other,
Build small temples
of each moment.
Unhitch your happiness
from every justification
and watch God
ripple out from you.
You are a sanctuary in motion
that can creatively pour
light from yourself.
Touch the earth
in a way that makes her smile—
you are the world’s
beauty mark.
Say yes to that
which creates little joy spots
in the Universe.
– Chelan Harkin

It’s well known that we were all born.

But if that abrupt translation
from not being to existing, to having hands,
to seeing, to having eyes,
to eating and weeping and overflowing
and loving and loving and suffering and suffering,
of that transition, that quivering
of an electric presence, raising up
one body more, like a living cup,
and of that woman left empty,
the mother who is left there in her blood
and her lacerated fullness,
and its end and its beginning, and disorder
tumbling the pulse, the floor, the covers
till everything comes together and adds
one knot more to the thread of life,
nothing, nothing remains in your memory
of the savage sea which summoned up a wave
and plucked a shrouded apple from the tree.

The only thing you remember is your life.
– Pablo Neruda

You will see it coming. Not you actually because you don’t see for yourself yet, everyone is busy seeing for you, days filled with unsolicited advice you don’t take and trite warnings you can’t hear and the whitewashing of all your excitement. Yes, they definitely saw it coming, exactly the way it came.

When you’re older you will know that at some unconscious level not only did you see it coming, but you created it, in your own blind, stumbling way. You will console yourself with the fact that it wouldn’t have mattered, seeing it or not seeing it. You were a sponge for incident. Maybe everyone is when they’re young. They don’t remember, nobody remembers what it feels like to be so recklessly absorbent.

When you can’t see in front of you life is nothing but surprises. Looking back, there were truly so few of them.
– Stephanie Danler

The Zen way of life requires effort. While so much is effortless and things are just happening, humans have a lot to do. I guess that’s why the historical Buddha talked about the path being full of obstacles.
– Andrea Pollard

Memories are dangerous things. You turn them over and over, until you know every touch and corner, but still you’ll find an edge to cut you.
– Mark Lawrence, Prince of Thorns

What kept me sane was knowing
that things would change,
and it was a question of keeping myself
together until they did.
– Nina Simone

She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
– John Keats, Ode on Melancholy

Peace of the land,
fill me with time.
Make me a wing
chiselled to climb.
Make me a tune
that’s sung to mend
the wounds of the earth,
the loss of a friend

Peace of the land,
cradle and grave,
soil and stone,
forest and wave,
make me a fire
that burns to know
what brought us here,
how the tale goes.

Give us this day
for time in its flight.
Give us space for
darkness and light.
Give us hope for
living this dream
of a passionate peace

Peace of the land,
shattered and torn
time and again,
and ever reborn,
this is my prayer
as old as sand:
Teach me to wear
the peace of the land
– George Gorman

no amount of effort
or learning
can make you whole
because you already are,
even if you are not
aware of it,
even when circumstances
overwhelm you,
even when you feel
you’re falling apart
beyond repair –
deep inside
you are still whole.
My dear friend, wherever it
is you want to go,
listen to the song of silence
within you –
That will grab you
by the hand and
guide you towards
the ultimate.
– Guthema Roba

…but that’s not why you fell in love in the first place, just to hang onto life, so you have to take your chances and try to avoid being logical. pain always produces logic, which is very bad for you…(personism) puts the poem squarely between the poet and the person…the poem is at last between two persons instead of two pages…
– frank o’hara, personism: a manifesto

But I was only a chaotic walker, nobody could stop me; even a totalitarian state was not able to control my daydreams, my poetic fascinations, the pattern of my walking.
– Adam Zagajewski

I always make a vow to not be angry, and so I’m not. I can be passionate about things and people and actions, and I can take positive action on things, but I’m never angry. Anger is so negative and tiring, and anger distorts your thinking. Things that enrage are almost always mistakes, and they can be fixed easily. Actions taken in anger are harder to fix. I approach life with love and curiosity, and it rewards me always. And I’m always standing next to people who reward me fully. It’s a good life.
– Marian Seldes

The no-phones policy illuminated something about smartphone use that’s hard to see when it’s so ubiquitous: our phones drain the life out of a room. They give everyone a push-button way to completely disengage their mind from their surroundings, while their body remains in the room, only minimally aware of itself. […]

Every time someone in a group of people deploys a screen, the whole group is affected. Each disengaged person in a crowd is like a little black hole, a dead zone for social energy, radiating a noticeable field of apathy towards the rest of the room and what’s happening there. We all know this feeling from being at a restaurant table when one person has “discreetly” ducked out into their screen. Even while everyone else is happily chatting face-to-face, everyone feels the hole.

The full strength of this black-hole effect on today’s social events can be hard to appreciate, because it has crept into our lives so gradually. But it sure was obvious in a [phone-free] venue […]. So much more attention stayed in the room, and it was palpable.

[…] And of course, throughout the show, we still retained all the important powers of our superphones. We just had to politely step into the hallway to use them, and most people seemed to find little reason to do so.
That might have been the most interesting part of this experiment: when you add a small, immediate cost to unlocking your phone (in this case a twenty-second walk to the concourse), it suddenly isn’t worth doing. That says a lot about much we really value most of our impromptu screen sessions.

[…] I don’t think we’ve even begun to comprehend the full cost of our devices on our lives, particularly on our social structures, the development of our children, and our overall mental health. […] I imagine that in another decade or two we’ll look at 2010s-era device use something like we do now with cigarette smoking. I was born in 1980, and I remember smoking sections on planes, which is unthinkable today. I wonder if today’s kids will one day vaguely remember the brief, bizarre time when people didn’t think twice about lighting up a screen in the middle of a darkened concert hall. »

– David Cain

It is the intentions, the capacities for choice rather than the total configuration of traits which defines the person. Here the stage is set for identity crises, for wondering who one really is, behind the multifold variety of actions and roles. And the search for that core person is not a matter of curiosity; it is a search for the principles by which choices are to be made.
– Amélie Oksenberg Rorty

Style is a pendulum, and it likes drama in its swing. This minimal-to-maximal shift is happening […] everywhere and at every price point. [T]he finger-wagging minimalism that informed the housewares and home design market for over a decade […] is losing relevance while its opposite is gaining currency.

The pandemic has had a deeply transformative effect on our relationships to our homes, wreaking as much havoc on our houses as on our hearts and health. We’ve been grateful for the sanctuary of our spaces and hateful for being cooped up […]. Our homes, like never before, have become the vessels in which we experience life’s weather. So it’s no surprise that minimalism, with its concentration on order and blank-slate perfection, has not endured COVID-19 in the best condition.

Maximalism—a moreish style where overlap, accident, and letting your personality hang out are encouraged—comes as a relief if only because it is forgiving. The overarching idea seems to be an expressive, connective humanity—an intentional hot mess. Within this frame, we see the therapeutic and virtuous qualities long held in the court of minimalism getting lobbed over into maximalism. [T]he language of wellness is used freely, as if it’s a fait accompli that, for decor to be meaningful today, it must also be curative.

Interiors are, after all, our insides. But they are also places, like anything else subject to fashion, where our desires are worn on the outside. If minimalism was about controlling the static and crashing of a world spinning too fast, maximalism may be more about filling in a void of loneliness and isolation. And if, in this extravaganza of muchness, you bash your shin on a slipper chair or a shell-form purdonium on wheels? At least you will feel something. »

– Mireille Silcoff

Few of us are entirely well balanced. Our psychological histories, relationships and working routines mean that our emotions can incline grievously in one direction or another. We may, for example, have a tendency to be too complacent, or too insecure; too trusting, or too suspicious; too serious, or too light-hearted. Art can put us in touch with concentrated doses of our missing dispositions, and thereby restore a measure of equilibrium to our listing inner selves. […]

Why are some people drawn to minimalist architecture and others to Baroque? Why are some people excited by bare concrete walls and others by William Morris’s floral patterns? Our tastes will depend on what spectrum of our emotional make-up lies in shadow and is hence in need of stimulation and emphasis. Every work of art is imbued with a particular psychological and moral atmosphere: a painting may be either serene or restless, courageous or careful, modest or confident, masculine or feminine, bourgeois or aristocratic, and our preferences for one kind over another reflect our varied psychological gaps. We hunger for artworks that will compensate for our inner fragilities and help return us to a viable mean. We call a work beautiful when it supplies the virtues we are missing, and we dismiss as ugly one that forces on us moods or motifs that we feel either threatened or already overwhelmed by. Art holds out the promise of inner wholeness.
– Alain de Botton, Art as Therapy

The only emotion that
is stronger than fear
is love.
– Albert Bourla

The din of modern life constantly pulls our attention away from anything that is slight, or subtle, or ephemeral. We might look briefly at a slant of light in the sky while walking through a parking lot, but then we’re on to the next thing: the next appointment, the next flickering headline, the next task, the next thing that has to get done before the end of the day.

But maybe it’s for just that reason – how busy we are and distracted and disconnected we are – that wonder really is a survival skill. It might be the thing that reminds us of what really matters, and of the greater systems that our lives are completely dependent on. It might be the thing that helps us build an emotional connection – an intimacy – with our surroundings, that, in turn, would make us want to do anything we can to protect them. It might build our inner reserves, give us the strength to turn outward and meet those challenges with grace.
– H. Emerson Blake

by Robert Francis

His art is eccentricity, his aim
How not to hit the mark he seems to aim at,

His passion how to avoid the obvious,
His technique how to vary the avoidance.

The others throw to be comprehended. He
Throws to be a moment misunderstood.

Yet not too much. Not errant, arrant, wild,
But every seeming aberration willed.

Not to, yet still, still to communicate
Making the batter understand too late.

Nothing is Far
by Robert Francis

Though I have never caught the word
Of God from any calling bird,
I hear all that the ancients heard.

Though I have seen no deity
Enter or leave a twilit tree,
I see all that the seers see.

A common stone can still reveal
Something not stone, not seen, yet real.
What may a common stone conceal?

Nothing is far that once was near.
Nothing is hid that once was clear.
Nothing was God that is not here.

Here is the bird, the tree, the stone.
Here in the sun I sit alone
Between the known and the unknown.

Part for the Whole
by Robert Francis

When others run to windows or out of doors
To catch the sunset whole, he is content
With any segment anywhere he sits.

From segment, fragment, he can reconstruct
The whole, prefers to reconstruct the whole,
As if to say, I see more seeing less.

A window to the east will serve as well
As window to the west, for eastern sky
Echoes the western sky. And even less—

A patch of light that picture-glass happens
To catch from window-glass, fragment of fragment,
Flawed, distorted, dulled, nevertheless

Gives something unglassed nature cannot give:
The old obliquity of art, and proves
Part may be more than whole, least may be best.

The Half-Finished Heavan
by Tomas Tranströmer (trans. Robin Fulton)

Despondency breaks off its course.
Anguish breaks off its course.
The vulture breaks off its flight.

The eager light streams out,
even the ghosts take a draught.

And our paintings see daylight,
our red beasts of the ice-age studios.

Everything begins to look around.
We walk in the sun in hundreds.

Each man is a half-open door
leading to a room for everyone.

The endless ground under us.

The water is shining among the trees.

The lake is a window into the earth.

How the Trees on Summer Nights Turn into a Dark River
by Barbara Crooker

how you can never reach it, no matter how hard you try,
walking as fast as you can, but getting nowhere,
arms and legs pumping, sweat drizzling in rivulets;
each year, a little slower, more creaks and aches, less breath.
Ah, but these soft nights, air like a warm bath, the dusky wings
of bats careening crazily overhead, and you’d think the road
goes on forever. Apollinaire wrote, “What isn’t given to love
is so much wasted,” and I wonder what I haven’t given yet.
A thin comma moon rises orange, a skinny slice of melon,
so delicious I could drown in its sweetness. Or eat the whole
thing, down to the rind. Always, this hunger for more.

Observe all men, thyself most.
– Benjamin Franklin

Praise works with only three types of people; men, women, and children.
– Anonymous

The middle path is a recognition that when we chase pleasure too much it becomes pain. That when we integrate our darkness it becomes light.
– Bohemian Bodhisattva

There are those, standing in perfect giving, who become universal monarchs. Giving gifts, they establish beings in the ten wholesome paths.
– The Buddha

Greek hubris was precisely the refusal to be humbled by what should have been humbling.
– Richard Rohr

Jung maintained that psychology must go deeper than the intellect because “the totality of the psyche can never be grasped by intellect alone.” Like it or not, “the psyche seeks an expression that will embrace its total nature.
– Scott Hill

A wise man can always be found alone. A weak man can always be found in crowd.
– Unknown

I’m at Apple Store SoHo. A grey-haired woman walks in and announces, “I’d like to buy a phone from a woman.”

Male associate says, “I’d be happy to help you!”

She replies, “No offense but I demand a woman. Men are too linear and can’t understand what I need in a phone.”


– Laura Bassett

what toxically positive people don’t realize is that carrying anger in your heart is an absolutely necessary step of the process of healing from abuse because anger is proof that you’ve finally internalized that you did not deserve to be treated that way.
– @muchnerve

We choose the strongly ingrained, we follow the paradigms, and we stick to the known, even when the known leads only to ennui, boredom, depression, anesthetizing treatments, or chronic divertissement.
– James Hollis

The “personal carbon footprint,” in which you are made to feel that climate change is your fault, was created by polluters. I’m all for everyone doing what they can, but don’t get it twisted. This emergency requires decisive government action.
– Brian Schatz

Half of academics have not read nearly enough to be writing what they think they’re able to write right now and the other half need to stop reading already and write the damn thing and the problem is that they both think they’re the other type.
– Jeff Guhin

Work with life centered principles and the universe pitches in to help.
– Buckminster Fuller

upon purple clouds
when do I set sail?
western sea
– Issa

Schwartz-Salant sees madness as an overwhelming, disordering inner state that occurs when we seek new forms of order.
– Ann Belford Ulanov

There is a world which poets cannot seem to enter. It is the world everybody else lives in. And the only thing poets seem to have in common is their yearning to enter this world.
– Mary Ruefle

The facts that make the world real—these depend on the unreal in order to be recognized by it.
– Ingeborg Bachmann

As you watch from afar in horror, remember: it’s fossil fuels.

It’s been fossil fuels for a very long time.

– Emily Atkin

She liked to put her head on his chest and listen to his heart. “How could one person ever hurt another after doing this?” she’d asked him the first time. “But we do.”
– Denis Johnson

Outside the avenue darkened—
Not toward the absolute, but into
a blueblack transluscence, the lip
Of the world’s shadow brushed
in clumsy passion against
The scarred forehead of a hurricane.
– T. R. Hummer

The French Quarter tarot-reader
told them Love finds a way;
Cross the great water—a blessing and a fortune,
and they paid her. Then, rain
Locked in over Melpomene Avenue
past midnight,
– T. R. Hummer

I heard it later, in bed upstairs in the dark, through the open window, the tiny dry clashing of [magnolia] leaves, and thought, Were we happy tonight because we were happy or because once, a long time back, we had been happy? Was our happiness tonight like the light of the moon, which does not come from the moon, for the moon is cold and has no light of its own, but is reflected light from far away? I turned that notion around in my head and tried to make a nice tidy little metaphor out of it, but the metaphor wouldn’t work out
– Robert Penn Warren

There is a basin in the mind where words float around on thought and thought on sound and sight. Then there is a depth of thought untouched by words, and deeper still a gulf of formless feelings untouched by thought.
– Zora Neale Hurston

Nothing is ever the same as they said it was.
It’s what I’ve never seen before that I recognize.
– Diane Arbus

.. When the storm

Kicks up and nothing is ours, we go chasing

After all we’re certain to lose, so alive—

Faces radiant with panic.

– Tracy K. Smith, The Weather in Space

Without relationships, we have nothing.
– Esther Wojcicki

It’s a pre-requisite of system change that you lose faith in the existing system. Once you lose faith, you stop looking for yourself inside it.
– @NoraBateson

If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be & could be, he will become what he ought to be & could be.
– Goethe

Desire can make anything into a god.
– Mark Doty

Were a man to order his life by the rules of true reason, a frugal substance joined to a contented mind is for him great riches; for never is there any lack of a little.
– Lucretius

Yea sex is great but have you ever bounced back from a creative drought with newfound love and excitement for your work
– Laura Gao

Only in dreams, in poetry, in play do we sometimes arrive at what we were before we were this thing that, who knows, we are.
– Julio Cortazar

I don’t look on poetry as closed works. I feel they’re going on all the time in my head and I occasionally snip off a length.
– John Ashbery

If you think about it, in ideational terms, we live in a world mapped out in Spanish and Portuguese, designed in German, crafted in English, measured in French, provisioned in Chinese, philosophically opposed in Arabic and Russian, and terminated in Japanese.
– Venkatesh Rao

We are slowly recognizing that the failure to understand and revere place has unleashed a toxic assault on the conditions and communities of life that are the very umbilical cord to our own human existence. This recognition cannot happen quickly enough, not only for our physical survival, but also for the survival of our human souls.
– Miriam Therese MacGillis

A true adult is in conscious relationship and service to our mysterious and endangered world.
– Bill Plotkin

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
– William Stafford

Sooner or later, everything falls away.
You, the work you’ve done, your successes,
large and small, your failures, too. Those
moments when you were light, alongside
the times you became one with the night.
The friends, the people you loved
who loved you, those who might have wished
you ill, none of this is forever. All of it is
soon to go, or going, or long gone.

Everything falls away, except the thread
you’ve followed, unknowing, all along.
The thread that strings together all you’ve
been and done, the thread you didn’t know
you were tracking until, toward the end,
you see that the tread is what stays
as everything else falls away.

Follow that thread as far as you can and
you’ll find that it does not end, but weaves
into the unimaginable vastness of life. Your
life never was the solo turn it seemed to be.
It was always part of the great weave of
nature and humanity, an immensity we
come to know only as we follow our own
small threads to the place where they
merge with the boundless whole.

Each of our threads runs its course, then
joins in life together. This magnificent tapestry –
this masterpiece in which we live forever.

– Parker J. Palmer, Everything Falls Away

There are two kinds of companies, those that work to try to charge more and those that work to charge less.
– Jeff Bezos

If you’re trying to restore neuroplasticity in the brain, to re-establish some of the connections that were there before the injury, music can be a big help, and I’d like to see it used more widely in this county.
– Jonathan Burdette, M.D.

Rather than earn money,
Thoreau decided to reduce his wants
so he wouldn’t need to buy anything.
But when he began preaching
this ingenious idea around town,
the shopkeepers of Concord
hoped he would drop dead.
– Richard Armour

Imaginary Conversation

You tell me to live each day
as if it were my last. This is in the kitchen
where before coffee I complain
of the day ahead – that obstacle race
of minutes and hours,
grocery stores and doctors.

But why the last? I ask. Why not
live each day as if it were the first –
all raw astonishment, Eve rubbing
her eyes awake that first morning,
the sun coming up
like an ingénue in the east?

You grind the coffee
with the small roar of a mind
trying to clear itself. I set
the table, glance out the window
where dew has baptized every
living surface.

– Linda Pastan

I’ve seen one of the voiceless
borrow the voice of the saxophone.
He stands on a downtown street
on a wintry, dull afternoon
blowing his heart out. His heart
slides down the tube of his instrument
and comes out in a long, sweet note,
excruciating and breathless […].
– Lisel Mueller, Alive Together

You can’t learn to act unless you’re criticized. If you tie that criticism to your childhood insecurities you’ll have a terrible time. Instead, you must take criticism objectively, pertaining it only to the work being done.
– Sanford Meisner

If one wishes to be instructed—
not that anyone does—
concerning the treacherous role
that memory plays in a human life,
consider how relentlessly
the water of memory refuses to break,
how it impedes that journey into the air of time.
Time: the whisper beneath that word is death.
With this unanswerable weight hanging heavier
and heavier over one’s head,
the vision becomes cloudy,
nothing is what it seems.
– James Baldwin

Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.
– Terence McKenna

Oh, to be reborn within the pages of a book.
– Patti Smith

if we write, it’s that we can’t sing, if we sleep, it’s that we can’t live.
– Etel Adnan

A great Sufi master once asked, “What is heaven? A heart full of love.” “What is hell?” asked his student. “A heart lacking that love,” the master responded.
– Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche


I haven’t moved from my chair
yet I feel washed-up on a far shore

as if the boat I was in
came apart in the tide
out from under me.

I looked for a keel, a rudder, a mast, a boom,
but perhaps it was a currach or a coracle

and the graceful swoop and flat of it
was taken into the depths.

The depths —
where all my treasures went.

The depths —
where any stowaways went too.

Somehow, this windswept ‘I’
washed up on an island

and that is a bit like being pulled
into a dream, a song, a trance.

Just ask Brendan or Maelduin.

currach: an ancient boat design used in Ireland and Scotland

coracle: an ancient boat design used in Wales

– Hawk of the Pines

“Stepping Back In With the Amblefowk”*

Under a canopy of gray-green,

in that liminal space in-between,

I stepped back in with the amblefowk —

the ones in my line

always on the move




They were the ones who

traded-in ‘nationality’

for a freer place to be.

A place to stretch their legs.

To tend green-and-growing things.

A freer place for hearts and love,

for themselves

and those to come.

The stepping was soft.

The steps even softer.

My feet bare,

the ground made me instantly aware

just how heavy

I had become

to myself.

Heavy as a stone.

Heavy, as in,

taking on

someone else’s story.

Have you ever done that?

Have you ever morphed yourself

into a shape

you no longer recognized?

Wandered along paths

looking for yourself?

Conjured dreams

of going back

to some seemingly

“more tightly-knit” place?

A sister reminded me today

of a holy word — belonging.



Be…The Longing.

Despite this world’s shredding

and shattering,

belonging is possible;

but first

we must belong

to ourselves.


that can be

quite an arduous voyage.

Here is to the fowk (folk)

with whom we can amble.

*The term “amblefowk” is purely an invention from my pen. Amble (Middle English: amblen, Old French: ambler, Latin: ambulare) + Fowk (Lallans/Lowland Scots: folk / people).

– Hawk of the Pines / Hawk Owen

To the negative Neds, to the “nattering nabobs of negativity”, to the naysayers.

To the bombabastic, the bellicose, the belligerent.

To those who civil engagement rarely reaches beyond laugh emojis on heartfelt posts.

To those who have descended on school board meetings across the nation, hiding their poisonous rhetoric and unrestrained rage underneath the thin veneer of patriotism.

To those who only tear down, who never build up; to those whose ideology doesn’t extend beyond their own self-interest.

I see you.

I will not mock or misrepresent you. I will not attempt to persuade you. I will not spend my finite days on earth in a futile battle for your acceptance.

But I do see through you, and I feel compelled to inform you that your efforts are hopelessly transparent. It’s not about the children; it’s not about freedom; it’s not about God or country. It’s about you. It has always been about you.

We see you.

– The Subversive Lens

There’s a boy in you about three
Years old who hasn’t learned a thing for thirty
Thousand years. Sometimes it’s a girl.
This child had to make up its mind
How to save you from death. He said things like:
“Stay home. Avoid elevators. Eat only elk.”
You live with this child, but you don’t know it.
You’re in the office, yes, but live with this boy
At night. He’s uninformed, but he does want
To save your life. And he has. Because of this boy
You survived a lot. He’s got six big ideas.
Five don’t work. Right now he’s repeating them to you.
– Robert Bly

I do know my own mind…The trouble is, my mind changes and then I have to get acquainted with it all over again.
– L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island

If we opened people up,
we’d find landscapes.
– Agnes Varda

A man wants to earn money
in order to be happy,
and his whole effort and the best of a life are devoted to the earning of that money.
Happiness is forgotten;
the means are taken for the end.
– Albert Camus

We’re not on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves. But in doing that, you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes.
– Joseph Campbell

(The) human circle is necessary for psychological creativity: there seems to be a necessity for a close and personal world—family, tutelary figures, a friendly society, a beloved, personal enemies. The world and its humanity is the vale of soul-making.
– James Hillman

A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is. You tell a story because a statement would be inadequate.
– Flannery O’Connor

Above all, trust in the slow work of Love
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.

Only Love could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Love the benefit of believing
that Loves’ hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

They say there’s always one in every crowd.
They are wrong.
There’s a crowd in every crowd.
And crowds are always brimming over with the diverse, rich pageantry of humanity in all its wondrous and varied glory.

I used to think that I could be a one man show. That I could do it all myself. That if I wanted something done right I needed to do it myself.

The false, hollow Trinity of Me, Myself, and I.

Some hard trips ’round the Sun changed all that.
Thank and BLESS you bubble-bursters, pedestal knockers, and high horse puller-off-ers!

Now I see the beauty of others.
I’ve come to value what those who aren’t me bring to the table.

There are many someones who can bench more weight,
play higher notes – trumpeters tending to see music as a competitive sport –
birth more clever turns of phrase,
hold more liquor,
face harsher daily grinds and realities,
and preach and speak truth to power in ways that make me look like I can’t orate my way out of a thoroughly soaked and half disintegrated tissue-paper bag.

There’s so many of you who rock much harder than I could ever dream of.

No more seeing any of you as competition.
I’m drinking from the wells of collaboration and co-opetition!
Out with judging you or comparing myself against you.
In with seeing that we are all part of the great I Am.
We are All there is!
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!
And we’re all in this together.

Instead of tooting my own horn, from now on, I’m tooting yours.
I’m tooting ours.
I’ll be putting my horn down more and letting you rock the show.
I’ll be a drum major, I’ll be a manager, I’ll bring you water, I’ll bake cookies for the bake sale.
I’ll sit in the stands and feel my heart pound and goose-bumps rise as you step up and do that voodoo that you do.

Wisdom sees that the Beloved Community needs more braves and fewer chiefs
– and more chiefs that see that lifting others up and cheering them on — is the bravest thing to do.

You GO girl! You GO boy!
You doth rocketh so muchly!

We’re freaking going to shine so bright – so brave and true – that God’s gonna need to wear all the black holes as shades – and smile.

– roger wolsey

I’m just like a mule. I show up every day and climb very, very slowly up that mountain. I’m not particularly gifted, I just spend a lot of time at it.
– Elizabeth Rush

I DID NOT KNOW… by Alissa Kelly

I did not know a horse could bring people into your life that end up meaning the most to you.
I did not know a horse could make the hardest days of your life bearable.
I did not know a horse could teach you to put others first.
I did not know a horse could remind you time and time again that your gut is always right.
I did not know a horse could break your heart.
I did not know a horse could pick you up when you have fallen apart.
I did not know a horse could teach you to dream again, after you thought it was not possible.
I did not know a horse could make you believe in yourself.
I did not know a horse could teach responsibility, work ethic, and dedication.
I did not know a horse could make you believe in something when no one else does.
I did not know a horse could make you learn to forgive and forget.
I did not know a horse could humble you faster than you can say humble.
I did not know a horse could make you a winner.
I did not know a horse could also teach you how to lose gracefully.
I did not know a horse could instill patience in you.
I did not know a horse could make you listen better.
I did not know a horse could give you their heart.
I did not know a horse could change your life.
I did not know a horse could do all these things…
but now I know.

thoughts on reluctances and futilisms, (excerpts)
by hune margulies

if you empty yourself, beware the god you have made room for.
teach your being to desire.
be free: teach yourself how to need.

how many times have i sought solitude.
how many times have i found loneliness instead.
one pays a heavy price for being distracted.

a woman’s body is an aphorism.
poets cannot read aphorisms,
they can only write them.

to make love you must love.
if you make love,
let love make you.

learn to never chose a spiritual path until you have written a poem.
then don’t betray your poem:
make it your path.

this goes to the core of the being of poet:
poetry, like god, like love, like beauty.
is a deed we do.

don’t follow your bliss.
quite the contrary:
let bliss follow you.

poetry is neither immanent, not transcendent.
we don’t reach out for it,
nor do we reach within.
we reach in-between and it bring out.

some nights you despair of love.
some days you love despair away.
strive to vanquish nostalgia every time.

love speaks in melodic riddles.
but of you it demands unambiguous words.
love has surely heard many poems before.

there is a hunger in love,
and there is a thirst in despair.
just let the embrace be your teacher.

there is no silence anywhere,
there is only the inconsequential absence of noise.
be free: learn how to kiss her words.

– hune margulies.

It isn’t where you came from; it’s where you’re going that counts.
– Ella Fitzgerald

The importance of self-esteem for creative expression appears to be almost beyond disproof. Without a high regard for himself the individual who is working in the frontiers of his field cannot trust himself to discriminate between the trivial and the significant. Without trust in his own powers the person seeking improved solutions or alternative theories has no basis for distinguishing the significant and profound innovation from the one that is merely different. An essential component of the creative process […] is the conviction that one’s judgment is to be trusted.
– Robert Sternberg

Lead us to those we are waiting for,
Those who are waiting for us.
May your wings protect us,
may we not be strangers in the lush province of joy.
Remember us who are weak,
Flannery’s Angel by Charles Wright

What we provide is an atmosphere… of orchestrated pulse which works on people in a subliminal way. Under its influence I’ve seen shy debs and severe dowagers kick off their shoes and raise some wholesome hell.
– Meyer Davis, about his orchestra

After a long summer of green, the prairie towns have their brief season of colour. The leaves on the trees begin to turn—first a branch, then a tree, then a whole street of trees, like middle-aged people falling in love. The maples turn bright orange or scarlet, the elms a pale poetic yellow, and before the colour has reached its height, the leaves begin to detach themselves, to drift down.
– William Maxwell

Poets are lucky to work in the medium of words, which though they have value cost nothing. The dilemma is how to make people pay with that most valuable of currencies, their attention, when using materials so mundane. It’s like trying to build a woolly mammoth out of mounded grass clippings, or being charged with making something wondrous and eternal from discarded plastic bags. And we must remain wary and intentional while working in the medium of a shared codified language, in a world where institutions and governments […] are always ready to coax us back to the fold, away from the splintered, the weird, the wrong. We need to re-member our not knowing.

It’s this putting-back-together connotation that led me to hang this phrase in my workspace: Every time I write a poem, I remember / that I’ve forgotten how to write a poem. It’s a reminder that writing, for me at least, must marry my unknowing with my remembering. It must reassemble—precisely, lovingly, delicately, obsessively—what I don’t yet know, and what I’ve known since childhood, before the hegemony of our shared tongue shushes it into silence.
– Michael Bazzett

If I’m not careful,
I’ll forget to see as ordinary
the long miles the monarchs cover
every autumn to find us.
– Casey Thayer

Because we can’t look back to what we once were. We ache. We long. […] End of story.
– Daniel Nester

When I write I like to listen to the same song over and over again, although need to listen feels a more accurate phrase. This repeated listening returns me to a place where I can see the next thing I want to say, although of course I don’t mean see with my eyes, just like I don’t mean returns me to a place exactly, although I wish I did.

Let me try this again. When I sat down to write about one of those songs, it returned me to the place where I first heard it, the place it came from and even the place where I’m listening to it now. These places have nothing in common except inside of me, which is the place a story begins, as well as where it ends:

– Jenny Browne

Society often forgives the criminal; it never forgives the dreamer.
– Oscar Wilde

Jung once said, “Find out what a person fears most and that is where he will develop next.” The ego is fashioned like the metal between the hammer and the anvil.
– Robert A. Johnson

The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.
– Albert Einstein

I think sometimes we overplay the goodness and the conscience of the British and the Southerners in the United States. I think some of them are mighty bad and mighty misguided.
– Martin Luther King Jr.

You can’t believe and think simultaneously. It’s just not going to happen. It’s a contradiction—an impossibility. Because to think means you think. To believe means that you’re not thinking, you are just believing. And your ability to think is limited by the prejudices and the definitions of your beliefs.
– John Trudell

What is precious inside us does not care to be known by the mind in ways that diminish its presence.
– David Whyte

I think of cyberspace, which is no place at all, as akin to the dark imaginary out of which poems come, their rhythms, their discrete music punctuating the inner life.
– Meena Alexander, Poetics of Dislocation

What’s terrible is to pretend
that second-rate is first-rate.
To pretend that you don’t need love
when you do; or you like your work
when you know quite well
you’re capable of better.
– Doris Lessing

Surely, the storerooms
of oblivion
are full to bursting.
Surely, to bring back
that single scene
in all its glory
wouldn’t harm
the order of things.
– Gregory Orr

Francisco Varela: “It should not be surprising…that one of the main characteristics of spontaneous compassion, which is not a characteristic of volitional action based on habitual patterns, is that it follows no rules”.

To develop a complete mind: study the science of art; study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.
– Leonardo da Vinci

People normally cut reality into compartments, and so are unable to see the interdependence of all phenomena. To see one in all and all in one is to break through the great barrier which narrows one’s perception of reality..
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Modern educational institutions train children to see and experience the world divided up into parts, thereby disconnecting them from the unified whole (of nature, community, universe) that in truth we all belong to. Science, art, history, literature, math, music are presented to children as being completely separate from one another. They don’t learn how these are in truth interdependently connected. Over time, our consciousness compartmentalises, so that by adulthood we come to see ourselves as individuals separate from the universe..
– Christopher Chase

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

I think the difficulty is this fragmentation. All thought is broken up into bits. Like this nation, this country, this industry, this profession and so on… And they can’t meet. Wholeness is a kind of attitude or approach to the whole of life. If we can have a coherent approach to reality then reality will respond coherently to us.
– David Bohm

I’m tired of you, chaos
of the living world—
I can only extend myself
for so long to a living thing.
– Louise Glück

In a self-organizing world, we see change as a power, a presence, a capacity, that is available. It’s part of the way the world works — a spontaneous movement toward new forms of order, new patterns of creativity.
– Margaret Wheatley

Eight tenets of unplanned self-organization:

• We live in a world in which life wants to happen.
• We live in a universe that is alive, creative, and experimenting all the time to discover what’s possible.
• Organizations are living systems, or at least the people in them are living systems.
• Life uses messes to get to well-ordered solutions.
• Life is intent on finding what works, not what’s right.
• Life creates more possibilities as it engages with opportunities.
• Life organizes around identity.
• Beyond the machine image: nature is self-organizing.

Realizing that we live in a self-organizing world is to recognize that so much more is available for us as groups, as organizations, as communities. So much more is available to us in the form of a naturally occurring energy — the self-organizing capacity we all have. We have to learn how to engage it, how to evoke it.
– Margaret Wheatley

Listening Beyond Words

Really, the teachings of the Buddha all make sense. Things you wouldn’t imagine really are so. It’s strange. At first I didn’t have any faith in sitting in meditation. I thought, what value could that possibly have? Then there was walking meditation – I walked from one tree to another, back and forth, back and forth, and I got tired of it and thought, ”What am I walking for? Just walking back and forth doesn’t have any purpose.” That’s how I thought. But in fact walking meditation has a lot of value. Sitting to practice samādhi has a lot of value. But the temperaments of some people make them confused about walking or sitting meditation.

We can’t meditate in only one posture. There are four postures for humans: standing, walking, sitting and lying down. The teachings speak about making the postures consistent and equal. You might get the idea from this that it means you should stand, walk, sit and lie down for the same number of hours in each posture. When you hear such a teaching, you can’t figure out what it really means, because it’s talking in the way of Dhamma, not in the ordinary sense. ”OK, I’ll sit for two hours, stand for two hours and then lie down for two hours” You probably think like this. That’s what I did. I tried to practice in this way, but it didn’t work out.

It’s because of not listening in the right way, merely listening to the words. ‘Making the postures even’ refers to the mind, nothing else. It means making the mind bright and clear so that wisdom arises, so that there is knowledge of whatever is happening in all postures and situations. Whatever the posture, you know phenomena and states of mind for what they are, meaning that they are impermanent, unsatisfactory and not your self. The mind remains established in this awareness at all times and in all postures. When the mind feels attraction, when it feels aversion, you don’t lose the path, but you know these conditions for what they are. Your awareness is steady and continuous, and you are letting go steadily and continuously. You are not fooled by good conditions. You aren’t fooled by bad conditions. You remain on the straight path. This can be called ‘making the postures even.’ It refers to the internal, not the external; it is talking about mind.

If we do make the postures even with the mind, then when we are praised, it is just so much. If we are slandered, it is just so much. We don’t go up or down with them but remain steady. Why is this? Because we see the danger in these things. We see equal danger in praise and in criticism; this is called making the postures even. We have this inner awareness, whether we are looking at internal or external phenomena.

In the ordinary way of experiencing things, when something good appears, we have a positive reaction, and when something bad appears, we have a negative reaction.

Like this, the postures are not even. If they are even, we always have awareness. We will know when we are grasping at good and grasping at bad – this is better. Even though we can’t yet let go, we are aware of these states continuously. Being continuously aware of ourselves and our attachments, we will come to see that such grasping is not the path. We know but can’t let go: that’s 50 percent. Though we can’t let go, we do understand that letting go of these things will bring peace. We see the danger in the things we like and dislike. We see the danger in praise and blame. This awareness is continuous.

So whether we are being praised or criticized, we are continuously aware. For worldly people, when they are criticized and slandered, they can’t bear it; it hurts their hearts. When they are praised, they are pleased and excited. This is what is natural in the world. But for those who are practicing, when there is praise, they know there is danger. When there is blame, they know the danger. They know that being attached to either of these brings ill results. They are all harmful if we grasp at them and give them meaning.

When we have this kind of awareness, we know phenomena as they occur. We know that if we form attachments to phenomena, there really will be suffering. If we are not aware, then grasping at what we conceive of as good or bad, suffering is born. When we pay attention, we see this grasping; we see how we catch hold of the good and the bad and how this causes suffering. So at first we are grasping hold of things and with awareness seeing the fault in that. How is that? It’s because we grasp tightly and experience suffering. Then we will start to seek a way to let go and be free. ”What should I do to be free?” we ponder.

Buddhist teaching says not to have grasping attachment, not to hold tightly to things. We don’t understand this fully. The point is to hold, but not tightly. For example, I see this object in front of me. I am curious to know what it is, so I pick it up and look: it’s a flashlight. Now I can put it down. That’s holding but not tightly. If we are told not to hold to anything at all, then what can we do? We will think we shouldn’t practice sitting or walking meditation. So at first we have to hold without tight attachment. You can say this is tanhā, but it will become pāramī. For instance, you came here to Wat Pah Pong; before you did that, you had to have the desire to come. With no desire, you wouldn’t have come. We can say you came with desire; it’s like holding. Then you will return; that’s like not grasping. Just like having some uncertainty about what this object is, then picking it up, seeing it’s a flashlight and putting it down. This is holding but not grasping, or to speak more simply, knowing and letting go. Picking up to look, knowing and letting go – knowing and putting down. Things may be said to be good or bad, but you merely know them and let them go. You are aware of all good and bad phenomena and you are letting go of them. You don’t grasp them with ignorance. You grasp them with wisdom and put them down.

In this way the postures can be even and consistent. It means the mind is able. The mind has awareness and wisdom is born. When the mind has wisdom, then what could there be beyond that? It picks things up but there is no harm. It is not grasping tightly, but knowing and letting go. Hearing a sound, we will know, ”The world says this is good,” and we let go of it. The world may say, ”This is bad,” but we let go. We know good and evil. Someone who doesn’t know good and evil attaches to good and evil and suffers as a result. Someone with knowledge doesn’t have this attachment.

Let’s consider: For what purpose are we living? What do we want from our work? We are living in this world; for what purpose are we living? We do our work; what do we want to get from our work? In the worldly way, people do their work because they want certain things and this is what they consider logical. But the Buddha’s teaching goes a step beyond this. It says, do your work without desiring anything. In the world, you do this to get that; you do that to get this; you are always doing something in order to get something as a result. That’s the way of worldly folk. The Buddha says, work for the sake of work without wanting anything.

Whenever we work with the desire for something, we suffer. Check this out.

– Ajahn Chah, Everything Is Teaching Us

I am a brutalizer of the
brutalizer, a pillar of correctness
following a pillar of smoke
and a pillar of fire.
– Nava EtShalom

In this world
Budo needs no words —
yet how deeply we attach
to styles, rank, titles.
– Shinzen

Real religion is the transformation
of anxiety into laughter.
– Alan Watts

The best questions ask what we can bear to learn. They probe the roots of our resistance, close-read uncommon losses, and keep us quiet until we can admit ignorance.
– Amy Wright

Each person discovers a field of allurements, the totality of which bears the unique stamp of that person’s personality. Destiny unfolds in the pursuit of individual fascinations and interests … By pursuing your allurements, you help bind the universe together. The unity of the world rests on the pursuit of passion.
– Brian Swimme

Inevitably they find their way into the forest.
It is there that they lose and find themselves.
It is there that they gain a sense
of what is to be done.
The forest is always large,
immense, great and mysterious.
No one ever gains power over the forest,
but the forest possesses the power
to change lives and alter destinies.
– Jack Zipes, The Brothers Grimm, Enchanted Forests to the Modern World

Some sort of pressure must exist;
the artist exists because the world is not perfect.
Art would be useless if the world were perfect,
as man wouldn’t look for harmony
but would simply live in it.
Art is born out of an ill-designed world.
– Andrei Tarkovsky

Whales are like trees in the way they store carbon, and a group of whales is like a forest. Letting whale populations recover could help remove nine million tons of carbon from the environment, which was said to be the equivalent of restoring 11,000 square kilometers of forest.
– Jake Richardson

I will walk with my song torn open.
– Aeschylus, Agamemnon

She loved to walk down the street
with a book under her arm.
It had the same significance for her
as an elegant cane for the dandy a century ago.
It differentiated her from others.
– Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

And each scar has the shape of your mouth.
– Pablo Neruda, The Earth

“Chronicle of Shedding”

On edge.

A felt-hunger.

A longing for deep writhing connection.

At the end of nerves: the twitching of these times.

a cloudy-eyed snake

strikes at moving shadows.

The mind isn’t trustful right now.

The heart is armored…

trying to remember

the last time one could

speak of a ‘magic-love’.

Everything is being carried below the skin.

Surface Reality is fatigued.

Below it, a cool river of knowing flows.

I think of it as ‘They’

because it doesn’t feel singular.

It feels like ancestors

who are aching for us all.

I try to ‘stay the course’ with the Great River

but its teachings can be so fierce,


even at night after closing your eyes.

Tonight they said:

“There’s a shredding going on.

You’re part of it.

Be gentle with yourself.”

I blurted out: “Well, for feck sake!

I’m tired of being shredded!

I’m tired of the world shredding!

I’m tired of loss and flooding,

despots and Calvinists,

Texans in red ties

pretending they aren’t the Taliban.”

That’s when I heard her voice.

I don’t fully know who she is

but she comes around

every now and then

and gives me an earful.

Perhaps I have a ‘spirit-wife’ after all.

In any case,

she corrected my lack of clear-hearing.

She said:

“Shedding -not- shredding.”

Pull back,

pull back

to the vantage point

of your longest

and deepest-held affections.

Renewal awaits therein.

My joys are simple these days.

A wren on a morning branch.

Mist concealing a grove.

A dram of Dalmore 12-year.

Rain, like liquid gold, filling a garden bucket.

A passage from Basho.

A teaching from a Druid about poesy.

A mother’s stories about Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo.

A scrumptious meal

where we toast each other each night:

“Kampai Moai!”*

Is anyone else

feeling like

they have no right to complain

because they aren’t on the front lines

and yet


your soul

feels battle-weary anyway?


Kampai = Japanese for “Cheers!”

Moai = an Okinawan word meaning “a group of lifelong friends” or “a social support group that forms in order to provide varying support for social, financial, health, or spiritual interests”

– Hawk of the Pines, Frank LaRue Owen

Our Journey on Earth

To learn how to ask for what we need,
only to practice accepting what we’re
given. This is our journey on Earth.

While we don’t always get what we need, the reward for asking for what we need is that this allows us to be who we are. And the reward for accepting what we’re given is that we get to participate in the living Universe. Asking for what we need is a practice in being present and visible that lets us become intimate with our own nature. Accepting what we’re given is a practice in being present to everything beyond us that lets us become intimate with the nature of life. As a way of being, saying yes is the ongoing dance of intimacy between our own nature and the nature of life. Through a life of asking for what we need and accepting what we’re given, we feed the fire of our soul, which glows its brightest the moment our aliveness is ignited.

This is from my book The Endless Practice: Becoming Who You Were Born to Be

– Mark Nepo

In a culture based on the proliferation of choice, even one’s outward appearance, whether or not you are conscious of it, whether or not you care, is interpreted by the public as a decision. Please do not misunderstand me: you may not have had a choice, but the public is going to assume you made one.
– Mary Ruefle

Aging is peculiar, I don’t think you should be lied to about it. You have a moment of relevancy – when the books, clothes, bars, technology – when everything is speaking directly to you, expressing you exactly. You move toward the edge of the circle and then you’re abruptly outside the circle. Now what to do with that? Do you stay, peering backward? Or do you walk away?”
– Stephanie Danler

The fist clenched round my heart
loosens a little, and I gasp
brightness; but it tightens
again. When have I ever not loved
the pain of love? But this has moved

past love to mania. This has the strong
clench of the madman, this is
gripping the ledge of unreason, before
plunging howling into the abyss.

Hold hard then, heart. This way at least you live.
– Derek Walcott

Sometimes the desire to be lost again, as long ago, comes over me like a vapor. With growth into adulthood, responsibilities claimed me, so many heavy coats. I didn’t choose them, I don’t fault them, but it took time to reject them. Now in the spring I kneel, I put my face into the packets of violets, the dampness, the freshness, the sense of ever-ness. Something is wrong, I know it, if I don’t keep my attention on eternity. May I be the tiniest nail in the house of the universe, tiny but useful. May I stay forever in the stream. May I look down upon the windflower and the bull thistle and the coreopsis with the greatest respect.
– Mary Oliver

One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul and yet no one ever comes to sit by it. Passers-by see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way.

What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart.
That is my ambition, based less on resentment than on love in spite of everything, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion.
Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum.
– Vincent van Gogh, Letters to Theo

Same World

Consumed with anger,
The world is an ugly place.

Bathed in happiness,
The world is a wonderful place.

But, aha! the same world.

– Taitetsu Unn

Divest this cloak of institution
Have done this game of retribution!
I sing the big sky songs
And put on my long, tall sky hat
With thunder lights and beauty steeps
I slide the toll-free road.
I am away! A way of dance
Motions smooth and pliant
So slight the ring, the chance….
Be tight. Be tight
Slip through the seed loops
Exit right!
Emerald blue
Color’s the clue
I crouch to leap
Fold to spring
– Bobbie Gorman

So many people are shut up tight inside themselves like boxes, yet they would open up, unfolding quite wonderfully, if only you were interested in them.
– Sylvia Plath

Our life is a series of thoughtless actions, which have become habits in our relationships, in our religions, in our political and social life. We think in formulas, in slogans, dull and weary.
– Krishnamurti

‘L’horizon se rétrécit. Le vert des prés, un vert bilieux qui fait mal aux yeux et au coeur. Calme au soleil couchant, et même des restes de bleu.’
– Jules Renard

Ruben Quesada, PhD:
I’m curious if anyone is a familiar with the term Go-Giver? Im reading about it and it’s giving me so much hope.

Everything is terrible but my dog just farted himself awake and then ran in a circle looking at his butt like the fart had been done to him. So there’s that.
– Amy Westervelt

Also the psyche speaks in metaphors, in analogies, in images, that’s its primary language, so why talk differently? We must write in a way that evokes the poetic basis of mind with a rhetoric that does not disabuse the psyche of its natural way of talking.
– James Hillman

walking alone
viewing the moon
– Buson

rainy afternoon
the autumn world
of a small town
– Basho

“Green capitalism” doesn’t mean capitalism is internalizing its environmental externalities and becoming “sustainable.” It means economic sectors and investment linked to renewable energy, adaptation, or mitigation are new sites of accumulation, class conflict, and geopolitics.
– Thea Riofrancos

i saw a tiktok about how excessive reading in childhood is a sign of dissociation and i can’t stop thinking about it
– Jeanna Kadlec

Take notes regularly. This will sharpen both your powers of observation and your expressive ability… Through the habit of taking notes, you will inevitably come to observe more; observing more, you will have more to note down.
– Lydia Davis

like you
growing old
autumn butterfly
– Issa

Sometimes I have to leave myself untranslated. I don’t shove the alphabet into the spotlight. I am written in rain-eaten calligraphy, I am written in time. Sometimes I have to sew my mouth up with stars. It’s not romantic. Its the oldest, oldest patience. To love my self unknown.
– Shira Erlichman

outdoor cafe
two grey heads bowed over
one bowl of noodles
– Dawn Bruce

midday heat
the carpenter’s tool belt
full of plums
– Andrew Riutta

frigid night—
the bowl of soup
becomes my universe
– Mankh (Walter E. Harris III)

As a woman, I also deeply resent the idea that children are some kind of stabilizing agent in women’s lives, that without kids we are flighty or wild or in need of an accompanying weight to civilize us according to society’s approval.
– Hurt Vonnegut

Goddess Oyá:
Those who know themselves carry such a magnetic vibrational force.

The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.
– Lao Tzu

In case you didn’t know, being unfazed by discomfort is how you level up.
– @YouRedefined

When creeks are full
The poems flow
When creeks are down
We heap stones.
– Gary Snyder

As human beings we’ve certainly suffered the loss of awe, the loss of sacredness, and the loss of the fact that we’re not here – we’re not put on earth – to shape it anyway we want.
. . . you want something to happen with poetry, but it doesn’t make anything happen. So then somebody says, “What’s the use of poetry? ” Then you say, “Well, what’s the use of a cloud? What’s the use of a river? What’s the use of a tree?” They don’t make anything happen.”
– Derek Walcott

I always worked with the conviction that […] there are no insoluble problems, and experience has so far justified me in that I have often seen individuals who simply outgrew a problem which had destroyed others. This ‘outgrowing’ revealed itself on further experience to be the raising of the level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest arose on the person’s horizon, and through this widening of his view, the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically on its own terms, but faded out in contrast to a new and stronger life-tendency. It was not repressed and made unconscious, but merely appeared in a different light, and so became different itself. What, on a lower level, had led to the wildest conflicts and to emotions full of panic, viewed from the higher level of the personality, now seemed like a storm in the valley seen from a high mountain top. This does not mean that the thunderstorm is robbed of its reality; it means that, instead of being in it, one is now above it.
– C.G. Jung

She had exactly the German way; whatever was in her mind to be delivered, whether a mere remark, or a sermon, … or the history of a war, she would get it into a single sentence or die. Whenever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are going to see of him till he emerges on the other side of his Atlantic with his verb in his mouth.
– Mark Twain

All that passes descends,
and ascends again unseen
into the light: the river
coming down from sky
to hills, from hills to sea,
and carving as it moves,
to rise invisible,
gathered to light, to return
again. “The river’s injury
is its shape.” I’ve learned no more.
We are what we are given
and what is taken away;
blessed be the name
of the giver and taker.
For everything that comes
is a gift, the meaning always
carried out of sight
to renew our whereabouts,
always a starting place.
And every gift is perfect
in its beginning, for it
is “from above, and cometh down
from the Father of lights.”
Gravity is grace.
– Wendell Berry

There is a brokenness
Out of which comes the unbroken,
A shatteredness out
Of which blooms the unshatterable,
There is a sorrow
Beyond all grief which leads to joy
And a fragility
Out of whose depths emerges strength.

There is a hollow space
Too vast for words
Through which we pass with each loss,
Out of darkness
We are sanctioned into being.

There is a cry deeper than all sound
Whose serrated edges cut the heart
As we break open
To the place inside which is unbreakable
And whole,
While learning to sing.
– Rashani

What is an “activist”? You can be an activist planting Winter squash, walking in a fern forest, listening to your children, or smiling from your heart at someone who is lonely.

True activism means, to gently immerse your whole astonished body in the river of Presence. To be moved by the breath of beauty like a golden leaf, falling right where you are. To drown in the mystery of communion with whoever stands before you, and serve them by Being. Out of Being, doing arises. This is love. And whatever action happens in that moment is your politics. The politics of compassion has no party, and no platform. It is groundless.

A disheveled crow, a boy in the rain with his shining basketball, a spider web catching the moon, a crone at the grocery store marveling at all the soup. These are your tribe. This is your native country. It is all a sacred homeland.

Earth is not transfigured by how much you do, but how wantonly, how nakedly you plunge into the ocean of this perishing moment.

– Alfred K. LaMotte

The best helping hand that you will ever receive is the one at the end of your own arm.
– Fred Dehner

Go drink some water.
– Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg

Fall is in the air. The UPS guy has switched to pants.
– Shanna Compton

didn’t buy pants for a year and now i’m the emperor of pants. every day more pants arrive at our door.
– Grace Lee Borg

stop casting your nets into a sea of people
in hopes of scooping up stray arms
to fall into
and hands not large enough to hold
even the fleshiest grooves of your wanting
instead, send fishing lines down into the center of your heart
bait them with tenderness
and dare to look the ocean in the eye
in the face of grief
– Kendall Rosenberg

There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was a time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be a time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.
– John Green

Consider the white space
between words on a page, not just
the margins around them.

Or the space between thoughts:
instants when the mind is inventing
exactly what it thinks

and the mouth waits
to be filled with language.
Consider the space

between lovers after a quarrel,
the white sheet a cold metaphor
between them.

Now picture the brief space
before death enters, hat in hand:
vanishing years, filled with light.
– Linda Pastan

[There are] four stories at the heart of western imperial civilisation [that] have profound ecological implications. There is the ‘prosperity story’ which promotes worship of material acquisition and money, the ‘biblical story’ which focuses on the afterlife rather than the world around us, the ‘security story’ which builds up the military and police to protect relationships of domination, and the ‘secular meaning story’ which reduces life to matter and mechanism. […T]he most dangerous story that we live by is ‘the story of human centrality, of a species destined to be lord of all it surveys, unconfined by the limits that apply to other, lesser creatures’.

These are not, however, stories in the usual sense of narratives. They are not told in novels, read to children at bedtime, shared around a fire, or conveyed through anecdotes in formal speeches. Instead they exist behind and between the lines of the texts that surround us — the news reports that describe the ‘bad news’ about a drop in Christmas sales, or the ‘good news’ that airline profits are up — […] underneath common ways of writing and speaking in industrial societies are stories about unlimited economic growth as being not just possible but the goal of society, of the accumulation of unnecessary goods as a path towards self-improvement, of progress and success defined narrowly in terms of technological innovation and profit, and of nature as something separate from humans, a mere stock of resources to be exploited.
– Arran Stibbe, Ecolinguistics: Language, Ecology and the Stories We Live By

Insomnia is an all-night travel agency with posters advertising faraway places.
– Charles Simic, Dime-Store Alchemy

There are two medicines for all ills: time and silence.
– Alexander Dumas

The world is little,
people are little,
human life is little.
There is only one big thing—desire.
– Willa Cather

There is no consensus reality —
just consensus trance states.
The most dangerous are the religious and political.
How do you help those entranced by ideology and zealotry?
You don’t.
Awaken from your own trance states first.
Then you’ll see there was no

And you’ll laugh and laugh and laugh!
– Shinzen

When the world appears to be most insane, we can’t go inside and hide and let the jackals eat up the orchards. We have to respond as humans, which is to say with kindness and wit and caring.
– Tennessee Williams/James Grissom

When you say or do anything to please, get, keep, influence, or control anyone or anything, fear is the cause and pain is the result. Manipulation is separation, and separation is painful. Another person can love you totally in that moment and you’d have no way of realizing it. If you act from fear, there’s no way you can receive love, because you’re trapped in a thought about what you have to do for love. Every stressful thought separates you from people.
– Byron Katie

A culture is functional when it enables us to be virtuous easily.
– Thomas Berry

God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis.
– Eddy

Changing the world is good for those who want their names in books. But being happy, that is for those who write their names in the lives of others, and hold the hearts of others as the treasure most dear.
– Card

Listen to what makes your hair stand on end,
your heart melt, and your eyes go wide,
what stops you in your tracks 
and makes you want to live,
wherever it comes from,
and hope that your writing can
do all those things for other people.
Write for other people,
but don’t listen to them too much.
– Rebecca Solnit

When I really want to be soothed
and reminded of why people bother
to fiddle with sentences,
I often read poetry.
– Nicholson Baker

The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.
– Lois Lowry, The Giver

I have never met a heavy heart
that wasn’t a phone booth
with a red cape inside.

Some people will never understand
the kind of super power it takes
for some people to just walk outside.

– Andrea Gibson

If we will the future effectively it will be because the guidance and the powers of Earth have been communicated to us, not because we have determined the future of the Earth simply with some rational faculty.
– Thomas Berry, author The of Dream of the Earth

Merton is wise and a mentor. “Your idea of me is fabricated with materials you have borrowed from other people and from yourself. What you think of me depends on what you think of yourself. Perhaps you create your idea of me out of material that you would like to eliminate from your own idea of yourself. Perhaps your idea of me is a reflection of what other people think of you.
– Thomas Merton

The effect of hierarchy was to bypass or ‘short-circuit’ the right-brain hemisphere from the “chain-of-command” controlling human activity.
– Frederick C. Thayer, An End to Hierarchy, An End to Competition

Every idea of “What I’m Doing” shapes a particular environment of attention. We create environments of attention together, as the living have done for billions of years, and these are still being shaped by personal and collective intentions and agreements. Individual affinities help determine the structures of personal environments of attention and behavior. But while personal channels of focus are highly specialized, some fundamental environments of attention are composed of purposeful pursuits shared in common by some people everywhere, the general abilities or “callings” through which we’re cocreating our lives and societies.

While there are countless ways through which we exercise our capabilities, we spent three decades simplifying these sixteen psychological abilities that appear to be shared in common by humans everywhere (and probably by all of the living). These rewarding frameworks of persistent interest should be more accessible to everyone in personal and collective ways. Though focusing on the pursuit of important values, these are not compulsory mandates but passionate quests for fulfilling goals – which is what living minds are doing:

Common Interests

1)Adventure – Initiative – Survival Arts – Wilderness/Travel
2)Sport – Play – Athletic Arts – Sports/Fitness
3)Performance– Expression– Performing Arts– Music/Dance/Acting
4)Work – Judgment – Constructive Arts – Toolmaking/Labor

5)Relationships – Intimacy – Friendly Arts– Friendship/Partnership
6)Stories – Understanding – Language Arts – Comprehension/Meaning
7)Exchange – Mutual Benefit – Business Arts – Trade/Finance
8)Guidance – Compassion – Counseling Arts – Psychology/Law

9)Home – Appreciation – Domestic Arts – Home/Nourishment
10)Commitments – Loyalty – Protective Arts– Safety/Emergency
11)Learning – Knowledge – Traditional Arts –Education/Religion/Culture
12)Health – Detachment – Healing Arts – Healing/Doctoring/Drugs

13)Mystery – Intuition – Big Picture Arts – Mysteries & Theories
14)Science – Discovery – Research Arts – Investigation/Understanding
15)Art – Imagination – Visual Arts – Graphics/Design/Dream
16)Community– Cooperation– Political Arts– Leadership/Government

These passionate powers of mind are the various “hats” that we put on as the roles that we like to play. Everyone has at least one of these natural “Callings.” Such steering factors can be about learning, love, accomplishment, or transformative social or environmental ideals. They can also be about sheer fun. And as common denominators of cooperative experience we can much more effectively use these general mindsets to diversely collaborate.

Once more they gather ’round us.
Not with superstitions, this time –
not with the mortar of our fears
will we house them.
Not with dark forebodings
when we are flush with thunder,
and not with wilting promises,
when spring’s our neighborhood,
are we this time won.

With the swiftness of doves,
the suppleness of snakes,
the thousand amities of song,
from every field and passion of the senses
and every ingenuity of mind,
they come.
And we are of them.

No more the bitter altar.
No more the scattered blood.
No more the restitution
for a debt that never was.
We are of them.
And they…

They are the visions of what comes,
the flood of desire,
the flower of touch,
the spiral of hearing,
the immanent probe of tongue.
Every curl, wisp, waver
of indelible form –
steeps, widenesses,
rings, halls –
and only what comes.
For we are of them.

We are of all weathers.
Let the songs be sung.
We are of all weathers.
Let the spells be spun.
Let the die be thrown.
Let the laughter ring.
Take the dragon down
from the pious tree.
Let the holy ground
have a word with thee.
– George Gorman

At a certain point it is unatural to believe your thoughts, to feel the weight, the gravity of concepts, it gets more heavy, it gets more dense, because the Silence, the Grace, is pulling you home. The more you’re attached to thoughts, the more suffering will increase and get stronger. At some point it will be seen to be unnecessary, and only created by the concept of an ‘I’ owning something, owning thoughts. And the ‘I’ actually, only appears to exist the moment a thought is believed to be true. It’s not that the ‘I’ exists and attaches to thoughts, the ‘I’ only appears to exist when a thought is being believed. It’s part of the program. In the space between two thoughts, there’s actually no ‘I’. But we imagine that there is a continuing ‘I’ which grabs thoughts… but give a look, there no ‘I’ between thoughts! Here, the stilness prevails, it’s much more accessible, it’s much more natural than what we imagine.
– Jac O’Keeffe

Poetry makes nothing happen. That’s the relief of it. And the reason why nothing can substitute for it.
– Kay Ryan, Synthesizing Gravity: Selected Prose

Where there is sorrow,
there is holy ground.
– Oscar Wilde

Time for Serenity, Anyone?
I like to live in the sound of water,
in the feel of mountain air. A sharp
reminder hits me: this world still is alive;
it stretches out there shivering toward its own
creation, and I’m part of it. Even my breathing
enters into the elaborate give-and-take,
this bowing to sun and moon, day or night,
winter, summer, storm, still—this tranquil
chaos that seems to be going somewhere.
This wilderness with a great peacefulness in it.
This motionless turmoil, this everything dance.
– William Stafford

Open the book of evening to the page
where the moon, always the moon, appears

between two clouds, moving so slowly that hours
will seem to have passed before you reach the next page

where the moon, now brighter, lowers a path
to lead you away from what you have known

into those places where what you had wished for happens,
its lone syllable like a sentence poised

at the edge of sense, waiting for you to say its name
once more as you lift your eyes from the page

and close the book, still feeling what it was like
to dwell in that light, that sudden paradise of sound.
– Mark Strand

I have a sense of melancholy isolation, life rapidly vanishing, all the usual things. It’s very strange how often strong feelings don’t seem to carry any message of action.
– Philip Larkin

Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts.
– Martin Luther King Jr

One could only wish there were more who understood the love of family, of history, and of ancient, sacred bonds that grow deep within us all. If family is not worthy of our time and attention, who or what is?
– Laurence Overmire, One Immigrant’s Legacy

Each individual has the power of participating in the transformation of the whole earth. You have the power to accept the suffering, to refuse to pass it on, to forgive, and most of all, to transform the energy into vitality for the whole.
– Brian Swimme

A poem is no more a purely intellectual experience than a song or a painting or a spoonful of ice cream.
– Norman Rosenthal

I see you, Patriarchy.
You gas leak, you pickpocket,
you wasps nest in the attic,
you virus of glass, you
hothouse minefield.
– Rachel Wiley

The stupid myth of “Thoreau’s mother did his laundry” will not die. I investigated it pretty thoroughly a decade ago and short version: no one knows who did Thoreau’s laundry, but the assumption that he was pretending or intending to be an isolated hermity guy at Walden Pond is a misapprehension, and the idea that he exploited the female labor in his family is also uninterested in the labor he performed on behalf of his family before, during, and after those couple of years at the shack he built on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s land at Walden Pond and who those women were and what the family did together (plot spoiler: antislavery work). So far as I can tell, the things the Thoreau family members did for each other were deeply mutual.

I wrote: There is one writer in all literature whose laundry arrangements have been excoriated again and again, and it is not Virginia Woolf, who almost certainly never did her own washing, or James Baldwin, or the rest of the global pantheon. The laundry of the poets remains a closed topic, from the tubercular John Keats (blood-spotted handkerchiefs) to Pablo Neruda (lots of rumpled sheets). Only Henry David Thoreau has been tried in the popular imagination and found wanting for his cleaning arrangements, though the true nature of those arrangements are not so clear.

…The poster replied: “And the nation of Thoreau’s sister who came every week to take his dirty laundry.” This was apparently supposed to mean that Thoreau was not a noble idealist but a man who let women do the dirty work, even though it had noth- ing to do with whether or not Thoreau or other Americans cared about prisoners, which is what we were supposed to be talking about. Or maybe it suggested that Thoreau’s sister was impris- oned by gender roles and housework. It was also meant to imply that I worshipped false gods. I have heard other versions of this
complaint about Thoreau. Quite a lot of people think that Tho- reau was pretending to be a hermit in his cabin on Walden Pond while cheating by going home and visiting people and eating in town and otherwise being convivial and enjoying himself and benefitting from civilization. They think he is a hypocrite.

The tiny, well-built cabin at Walden was a laboratory for a prank- ish investigation of work, money, time, and space by our nation’s or empire’s trickster-in-chief, as well as a quiet place to write. During his two years there, Thoreau was never far from town, and he was not retreating from anything. He was advancing toward other things. The woods he roamed, before, during, and after his time in the famous shack, contained evidence of Indians, locals doing the various things people do in woods, including gathering wood and hunting, and escaped slaves on the long road north to Canada and freedom. He traveled with some of these slaves, guided them a little, and they guided him in other ways.

Slavery was very much on his mind during the time he lived at Walden Pond. His mother’s and sisters’ organization, the Concord Female Anti-Slavery Society, met at least once in his cabin (for a celebration of the anniversary of the liberation of slaves in the Indies, shortly after he himself spent a night as a prisoner). This is how not a recluse he was: there were meetings in that tiny cabin that engaged with the laws of the nation and the status of strangers far away, and he also went to jail during that time, because he was fiercely opposed to the territorial war against Mexico and to slavery. The threads of empathy and obligation and idealism spun out from those people and those meetings. The Concord abolitionists chose to care about people they had never met; they chose to pit themselves against the most horrific injustices and established laws of their society; and they did it at a time when they were a small minority and the end of slavery was hardly visible on the horizon.

And the laundry? I did a quick online search and found a long parade of people who pretended to care who did Thoreau’s laun- dry as a way of not having to care about Thoreau. They thought of Thoreau as a balloon and the laundry was their pin. Andrew Boynton in Forbes magazine observed in 2007 that his mother did his laundry; a cheesy website noted that he “took his dirty laundry home to mom!”; in 1983, a ponderous gentleman named Joseph Moldenhauer got in early on the accusation that he “brought his mother his dirty laundry”; a blogger complained that “he had someone else do his laundry”; another writer referred offhand- edly to the “women who did his laundry.”

A writer on an environmental website recently complained, “While philosophizing about self-sufficiency in his solitary shack, he would drop off his laundry at his mother’s place back in town”; even Garrison Keillor got involved in the laundry question; and there’s a collection of short stories called Thoreau’s Laundry as well as a site that sells a Thoreau laundry bag. I also learned that Thoreau, New Mexico, a pleasant little town on Interstate 40 I’ve passed by numerous times and through once or twice has four laundromats, none of them run by Thoreau’s mother, Cynthia Dunbar Thoreau.

I know two Thoreau scholars, one I met more than fifteen years back, and another who sought me out via Facebook and with whom I’d since corresponded a little, and I turned to them for more informed opinions on the washing and more pleasant interchanges overall. I wasn’t going to argue about it; but I did want to know the truth for my own satisfaction.

The first acquaintance, Professor Michael Branch at the Uni- versity of Nevada, Reno, was tired of hearing about the laundry: “The problem with explaining how much work the guy did is that you end up defending the wrong cause. I’ve stepped into this bear trap before,” wrote Branch and listed some of the kinds of labor the Transcendentalist performed, including teaching, surveying, running his family’s pencil factory. And he cautioned, “But once you make this case, you’ve accidentally blessed the idea that paying attention to the world, studying botany, and writing a shitload of amazing prose isn’t real work. Better to just say he never did a damned thing except write the century’s best book and leave it at that. Lazy fucker.” .

Michael Sims, who is working on a book about the young Thoreau, was well primed for the question. “Thoreau did visit the village almost every day, and see his parents, and do chores around the house for them,” he wrote. “While he was at Walden, they were in a house he helped build the year before he moved to the cabin — he and his father mainly — so he had considerable goodwill in the bank. During his entire adult life, he paid rent while at his parents’ boarding house, and paid it faithfully, with records sometimes kept on the backs of poems or other writings. He worked in the garden, helped keep the house in good repair, provided foods from his own garden, and so on.

“People did drop by the cabin to bring him food sometimes, but people dropped by each other’s houses with food all the time. It was the most common gift. He brought other people food, especially melons. (He was legendary for his talent in raising a vast array of melons.) I don’t know if I have an actual record of the family doing his laundry, but I’ll check as I go through some of that over the next month. But I would bet they did sometimes do his laundry. He was quite emotionally dependent upon his family, especially his mother, but he also contributed constantly. When his brother died young, Henry helped take up the slack in financial help. When his father died, Henry became not only the man of the house but the major force in the pencil business (which he had already almost revolutionized with his analysis of better ways to make pencils). So I think what I’m trying to say is that even at Walden he was very much a part of the family in every way.”

After looking into the laundry accusations, I opened Walden again and examined the section where he does his accounts, which, as the historian Richard White points out, were a sort of parody of nineteenth-century preoccupations with efficiency and profitability, with the pettiness of keeping score and the souls of bookkeepers. He mentions “washing and mending, which for the most part were done out of the house, and their bills have not yet been received.” It’s not clear if that’s out of his own cabin or his mother’s house, during the Walden era, but it suggests that maybe his washing was done by strangers in a commercial transaction, or that maybe he thought that the question of who did the laundry was amusing and made an indecipherable joke about a bill his family wasn’t really going to send.

He was, after all, the man who warned us against enter- prises that required new clothes, often wore shabby ones, and was certainly not very concerned about having clean ones. He never married and did little to make work for women and did quite a bit of dirty work himself, including shoveling manure — of which he wrote, “Great thoughts hallow any labor. To-day I earned seventy five cents heaving manure out of a pen, and made a good bargain of it.” He worked quite hard, often for his sisters’ benefit, though he also played around with the idea of work, appointing himself inspector of snowstorms and proposing that his employment could be watching the seasons, which he did with such precision, describing what bloomed when and which bird species arrived on what date in his corner of Massachusetts, that his journals have been used to chart climate change in the present. We call that work, which was also so clearly a pleasure for him, science.

Intermittently, throughout his adult life, he was also struggling with tuberculosis, the disease that killed his older sister, Helen, in 1849 and sometimes sapped his strength long before it killed him in 1862. At the time of his death, he was lying in bed downstairs in a parlor with his younger sister Sophia at his side. Though we talk so much about the twenty-six months he dwelt at Walden Pond, he spent most of the rest of the forty-five years of his life at home with his family, as an intimate and essential part of what appears to have been an exceptionally loving group.

Labor was divided up by gender in those days, but it’s hard to argue that women always had the worst of it in an era when men did the heavy work on farms and often the dirtiest and most physically demanding work around the house (in those days of outhouses, wood chopping, shoveling ashes and coal, handling horses and livestock, butchering, water pumping, and other largely bygone chores). Everyone worked around the home, until they became so affluent no one worked beyond the symbolic femininity of needlework. In between those two poles was a plethora of families who had hired help with the housework. I don’t think women were particularly subjugated by domestic work in the centuries before housewives in the modern sense ex- isted, though gender roles themselves deprived them of agency, voice, and rights. Thoreau’s sisters resisted and maybe overcame them without their brother’s aid.

Thoreau’s mother ran a boardinghouse and yet another writer on Thoreau, Robert Sullivan, points out that, like a lot of nineteenth-century households, they had help — and that the Transcendentalists were uncomfortable with the hierarchy of servants and employers (Emerson tried having the maid sit at the dinner table with the family, but the cook refused to do so). Perhaps Thoreau, his mother, and his sisters all had their wash- ing done by the same servant, or servants, who Sullivan suggests were likely to be recent Irish immigrants. Ireland’s Catholics, fleeing the potato famine and British brutality, had started to ar- rive in the 1840s, and a torrent of desperate Irish would pour into this country for several decades; I am descended from some of them, and my orphaned Irish-American grandmother used to attribute her excellent figure to doing the washing (by hand, on a washboard) for the family that raised her. In his journal entry for June 9, 1853, Thoreau expresses sympathy for an Irish maid named Mary who told him she quit her position on a dairy farm because she was supposed to do the washing for twenty-two people, including ten men with two pairs of dirty overalls apiece.

As Sims put it, “Soon afterward, he moved to Walden, which was the local ghetto of former slaves, Irish immigrants, alcoholics, and other town rejects, and lived among them in his handsome little hut.” I wrote back, “There’s also a really nice journal entry from 1851, where he expresses deep sympathy with a servant girl who quit her job after being burdened with laundry for twenty, including ten working men who got dirty daily. I have to say too that I’ve never found a sexist or patronizing comment in Thoreau’s writing, and sometimes the opposite–such as the comment in “Walking” that “How womankind, who are confined to the house still more than men, stand it I do not know.”

Sims had sent me an essay by Sandra Harbert Petrolionus on that very Concord Female Anti-Slavery Society that the writer’s mother and sisters belonged to, along with Mrs. Emerson, and I read it again, more carefully. Petrolionus declares, “The influence they brought to bear on some of America’s most noted antislavery speakers and writers had a pronounced and far-reaching impact….. Thanks directly to eight women, six of whom lived in his home, Henry Thoreau had long been explosed to the most radical antislavery positions during his formative young-adult years.”

And so I said to Sims, “Reading that superb piece you sent a month or so ago deepened my sense that his abolitionist mother and sisters were political powerhouses in whose wake he swam. My position now is that the three Thoreau women took in the filthy laundry of the whole nation, stained with slavery, and pressured Thoreau and Emerson to hang it out in public, as they obediently did.”

– Rebecca Solnit

I have always believed in beauty,
and I have always sought it,
and I have always found it.
In people and in things.
I cannot be discouraged.
– Marian Seldes

The unspoiled colors of a late summer night,
The wind howling through lofty pines –
The feel of autumn approaching;
Swaying bamboos keep resonating,
Shedding tears of dew at dawn;
Only those who exert themselves fully
Will attain the Way.
But even if you abandon all for the ancient path of meditation,
You can never forget the meaning of sadness.
– Dogen

Peace is the access point for all evolutionary information that we will ever need.
– Simone Wright

I walk everyday
five or six miles
in search of you
– Basho

The best revenge is healing and not letting those who hurt you find you where they left you.
– Inner Practitioner

And I should mention the light /
which falls through the big windows this time of day /
italicizing everything it touches…
– Billy Collins, Ballistics

We should tell ourselves, once and for all, that it is the first duty of the soul to become as happy, complete, independent, and great as lies in its power. Herein is no egoism, or pride. To become effectually generous and sincerely humble there must be within us a confident, tranquil, and clear comprehension of all that we owe to ourselves.
– Maurice Maeterlinck, Wisdom And Destiny

Literary Hub interview with A. E. Stallings:

PM: What is it about Classical myth, culture, poetry that has proved seemingly inexhaustible to you as a subject, jumping off place, or portal by and through which you make your poems?

AS: There is, in the first place, so much of it. I am always learning new things, rereading things in a new light, rereading things from a different point in life. And as an imaginative map, it is a map with a lot of uncharted places. It is both now and not now. Women’s voices in ancient epic and lyric tend to be “unrecorded” (as how Penelope’s thoughts are always veiled—her name means veiled, in one etymology) or fragmented (as has simply happened to Sappho through no fault of hers) which is a lot of space for improvisation. I suppose the Athenian tragedians found the same thing.

That said, certain other tales and mythologies have a similar draw on me—Anderson’s and Grimms’ Fairy Tales, and the Alice of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

PM: I wonder specifically about you as a poet of what is both unconscious or mysterious—what observations might you have about that aspect of your writing in relationship to, or in opposition to, what we’ve been discussing about the technical effects of poems.

AS: Frost famously said, “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.” I would perhaps add, no discovery for the writer, no discovery for the reader. Ancient poets believed that they had access to knowledge and wisdom beyond their own human experience because of the divine intervention of the Muses. I also believe that. Inspiration is a state of receptiveness to things larger than or other than oneself, a kind of empathy not necessarily with people but with objects, slants of light, shadows, and the sounds of things. A good line is always a little bit of a mystery. You learn to trust things you don’t necessarily understand intellectually (Keats’ Negative Capability, in a nutshell). This doesn’t always get easier with time and experience. The more experienced in a technique you become, the harder it can be to surprise yourself. Paradoxically, I like things like rhyme and meter precisely because using these random limitations (as a more avant garde poet might say) can leave you open to things beyond your control, spaces for the Muse to move through.

Poetry is the language of the apocalypse. When cracks appear, when tensions materialize and split the familiar open, the least thing you need is precision. The least thing you want is to simply get to the point. Well, the poet casts his eyes beside the point, beneath the surfaces, where the exquisite sprouts.
– Bayo Akomolafe

We do not have to choose whether to be inward or outward, practical or visionary, We are both. It is our genius. Our feet are on the ground. Our heads are full of dreams. We live in the crossing point.
– M.C. Richards

Breath of Life
From the unnamed
vastness beneath the
mind, I breathe my
way to wholeness
and healing.

Inhalation. Exhalation.
Each breath a “yes,”
and a letting go,
a journey, and a
coming home.

– Danna Faulds

And every year there is a brief, startling moment
When we pause in the middle of a long walk home and
Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless
Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air:
It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies;
It is the changing light of fall falling on us.
– Edward Hirsch

The Victorian Era. Long dreamy afternoons boating on the Thames and playing croquet on emerald lawns with girls in white frocks and fluttering hair ribbons. And later, tea under the willow tree, served in delicate Sevres cups by bowing butlers, anxious to minister to one’s every whim, and those same girls, reading aloud from a slim volume of poetry, their voices floating like flower petals on the scented air.
– Connie Willis

that the main chance was never seized
because it is only there as a thing to be dreamed of
or because someone somewhere had set the old words
to the new tune: we live by habit and it doesn’t hurt.
– Robert Hass, Old Dominion

The shadows of late afternoon and the odors
of honeysuckle are a congruent sadness.
Everything is easy but wrong.
– Robert Hass, Old Dominion

Sometimes we don’t say anything. Sometimes
we sit on the deck and stare at the masses of
goldenrod where the garden used to be
and watch the color change from day to day,
the high yellow turning to mustard and at last
to tarnish. Starlings flitter in the branches
of the dead hornbeam by the fence.
[…] Why am I
saying all this to you anyway since you already
know it? But of course we always tell
each other what we already know. What else?
It’s the way love is in a late stage of the world.
– Hayden Carruth

A Sacrament
Become that high priest,
the bee. Drone your way
from one fragrant
temple to another, nosing
into each altar. Drink
what’s divine—
and while you’re there,
let some of the sacred
cling to your limbs.
Wherever you go
leave a small trail
of its golden crumbs.

In your wake
the world unfolds
its rapture, the fruit
of its blooming.
Rooms in your house
fill with that sweetness
your body both
makes and eats.

– ​Paulann Petersen

Homeric Hymn
by A. E. Stallings
What if it wasn’t hell, it was only sadness
And your mother never came looking for you, never
Put the earth on hold, calling your number,
And your husband only wanted to cheer you up
With a handful of ruby arils, a lead-crystal
Flute of bubbles that struggled to reach the surface;
What if the pit-bull with squared heads was just
That old black mutt who only yapped at ghosts,
What if the ghosts were just insomnia,
A way to never rest in peace, what if
The winter came and went and came and went,
And the spring was out of whack, and that had nothing
To do with you, and the flowers weren’t lamps
Or bridal torches to solemn you into the darkness;
What if the darkness was only the curtains pinched
Against the sun in the bedroom during the day,
And what if the corner’s horror was only the shadow
Of a coat hanging by its neck from a doorknob,
And the woolly fog that scumbled out of the river
Was a way of seeing carried inside your eyes,
What if the meadow of sweets was the worn world
Whose beauties would outlast you, until they didn’t,
What if your alarm was just the alarm,
What if, all along, you were free to go?

Learning to live among rather than rule over these agencies that traverse the Earth is what takes us from dominion to stewardship and from human-centric detachment to deep participation with the living Earth. This is the great shift in temporal-spatial orientation that gives us a biosphere perspective.
– Jeremy Rifkin, The Green New Deal: Why the Fossil Fuel Civilization Will Collapse by 2028, and the Bold Economic Plan to Save Life on Earth

When we didn’t try to change our traditions, trust was not a problem. As soon as we tried to expand our circles of trust, it became more difficult. None of us would interpret the increased difficulty of walking up a mountain as a sign that his or her walking skills were eroding. We can likewise recognize that people are not becoming less trustworthy. We are naturally experiencing the obstacles to global trust that were invisible until we challenged them.
– George Gorman

Understanding the togetherness of living environments as a natural way of coexisting doesn’t mean you have to fall in love with every object you encounter. But when you do love something or someone, you start belonging with that otherness, as the other becomes a part of you. When feeling this sense of togetherness with, say, a particular butterfly, you approach it more equally. Greater and lesser cease to exist in the face of love. Yes, you can compare different relationships, but that isn’t about loving. And you can love a child without always being its equal. But the more the love is unrestrictedly flowing, the less it becomes possible in that moment to feel any sense of measurement or degree. The more you love, the more you are belonging together with more than yourself, with another, not as an object, but through a shared felt sense of coexisting. As Martin Buber expressed in in I – Thou: “Love does not cling to the I in such a way as to have the Thou only for its ‘content,’ its object; but love is between I and Thou.” As, I would add, something held together, deep within. A very great mystery.
– George Gorman

back in 2009 Barack Obama was inevitable. Obama represented one side of the american mind: the belief in racial equality, justice for all, international cooperation and a compassionate political agenda. but for many reasons Obama did not live up to his supporters expectations. in 2016 Donald Trump was inevitable. Trump represented the other side of the american mind: racial animosity, rule for, by and of the crooked oligarchy, international trade wars and confrontation, fake-religious fundamentalism and a circle of supporters that included nazi sympathisers, anti science ignoramouses and conspiracy theorists. both minds are parts of the american reality. both minds will find ways to win again and lose again. but if america can strengthen its better mind, it will not inevitably drift away from the american dream.
– hune margulies

Life is a series of gains, but it is also a series of losses; failures to grieve loss and disappointment openly, honestly, will rise again, as unbidden ghosts from their untimely burial, through depression, or as projections onto objects of compelling, delusive desire, or through captivation by the mindless distractions of our time. Failure to incorporate loss into our lives means that we have not yet accepted the full package life brings to us. Everything given is also lost, redeemed by us only through a more conscious affirmation of values that we continue to serve.
– James Hollis

You do the work and in the end the world will need it or not.
– Claudia Rankine

Peace is the access point for all evolutionary information that we will ever need.
– Simone Wright

One of the deepest and strangest of all human moods is the mood which will suddenly strike us perhaps in a garden at night, or deep in sloping meadows, the feeling that every flower and leaf has just uttered something stupendously direct and important, and that we have by a prodigy of imbecility not heard or understood it. There is a certain poetic value, and that a genuine one, in this sense of having missed the full meaning of things. There is beauty, not only in wisdom, but in this dazed and dramatic ignorance.
– G. K. Chesterton

When it died so did history, I think of the twentieth century as one long question, and in the end we got the answer wrong. Aren’t we unfortunate babies to be born when the world ended? After that there was no chance for the planet, and no chance for us. Or maybe it was just the end of one civilization, ours, and at some time in the future another will take its place. In that case we are standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something.
– Sally Rooney, Beautiful World, Where Are You

My constant questions is: ‘How do you reorient yourself to that kind of disorientation?’ I think exile extends beyond place.
– Sally Wen Mao

We work to become, not to acquire.
– Elbert Hubbard

For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror,
which we still are just able to endure,
and we are so awed
because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
Every angel is terrifying.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

Life is going to unfold
however it does.
What a relief it would be
to know that whatever
wave comes along,
we can ride it out with grace.
If we really got good at it,
we could be like surfers,
delighting especially at the
most complicated waves.
– Sylvia Boorstein

Your consciousness is a part of an infinitely original creative process.
– Jane Roberts, Dreams, Evolution, and Value Fulfillment

Care for nothing in yourself but what you feel exists nowhere else. And, out of yourself create, impatiently or patiently, the most irreplaceable of beings.
– André Gide

Whatever it is, we always depend on the kindness of the strange.
– Jeff Nunokawa, Note Book

Look at Icarus: flew too high with that rickety plumage, gave his name to the Icarian Sea. Should you row, or hoist sail to the breeze? It’s hard, at this
distance, to decide: you must improvise as occasion dictates.
– Ovid, Tristia, I.I (trans. Peter Green)

We live in an age which is so possessed
by demons, that soon we shall only be able
to do goodness and justice
in the deepest secrecy, as if it were a crime.
– Gustav Janouch, Conversations with Kafka

They have learned
that resistance is actually possible.
The holds are beginning to slip away.
– George Jackson

To make room for love stories, philosophy must be more literary, more closely allied to stories, and more respectful of mystery and open-endedness than it frequently is.
– Martha C. Nussbaum, Love’s Knowledge

When a writer tries to explain too much, he’s out of time before he begins.
– Isaac Bashevis Singer

Love can live
as long as you
acknowledge it.
– Sabrina Benaim

When a person doesn’t understand something, he feels internal discord: however he doesn’t search for that discord in himself, as he should, but searches outside of himself. Thence a war develops with that which he doesn’t understand.
– Anton Chekhov

In a human being everything should be beautiful: the face, the clothes, the soul, the thoughts. . . .Often I see a beautiful face and clothes, so beautiful that my head gets giddy with rapture; but as for the soul and thoughts,
my God! In a beautiful outside there’s sometimes hidden such a black soul that no whitening can rub it off…
– Anton Chekhov, The Wood Demon: A Comedy in Four Acts

There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember, you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go.
– J.R.R. Tolkien

…displace one note, and there would be diminishment, displace one phrase, and the structure would fall…

It is miraculous.

– Salieri on Mozart

The scientist does his best to eliminate from each object or set of objects all that is not essentially related to it, in order that he may view it sometimes in its more inner character ; but the artist never thinks of isolating things—he always brings them into relation with other things, and of the most diverse and unlikely nature, associating with the present image a fancy of his own, a recollection of his childhood or a fiction invented two thousand years ago.
– J. W. R. Purser

Some conversations are not about what they’re about.
– Anne Carson

Many stories we are holding close right now have the scream but not the gift. It is an enormous seduction on the part of the West to suggest that jabbing your pen around in the debris of your pain is enough. It’s not.
– Dr. Martin Shaw, Scatterlings

In my head there are several windows, that I do know, but perhaps it is always the same one, open variously on the parading universe.
– Beckett, Molloy

And if the story sounds so far like a dream, a glossy tale of the kind one occasionally—on holiday or a long-haul flight—allows oneself to lean back into and, as if it were sinful, a praline, vanish within for a brief moment, then it’s because life is a dream, a dream from which you never wake up, but which one day is nonetheless suddenly long since over, but you’re still here and can either use ‘the rest of your days’ to forget and ‘get on with it’ or on the other hand, like me, abandon what is and try to retrieve what was, even the tiniest little thing that has been lost, even what perhaps didn’t really exist but nonetheless belongs in the story, call it forth and tell it so it doesn’t vanish but on the contrary now at last becomes real and in a way more real than anything else.
– Madame Nielsen

The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.
– Arnold Toynbee

Do not dishonour the stars by seeking to reach them, by trusting that home lies in the glittery distance. ‘Reaching for the stars’ erases the hard work they have done, travelling unfathomable miles across our galaxy, spilling their guts in temper tantrums, baptizing earth with the very minerals that have become our bodies and our civilizations. Reaching for the stars? Why? They are already pressingly close, stirring with our bodies, tricksters of eternal night. We can learn that stars are ‘far’ because they teach us that distance is not synonymous with separation. We can learn that the homes we seek are seductively near, here in the thick-now, some creative risks away from the familiar.
– Bayo Akomolafe

The Great way is not difficult. It just avoids picking and choosing.” There is a Taoist flavor to this saying. The sense of following the water path through life. The water if it runs into a stone, it just makes its way around. The water is clear and has no attachments which is why we have a little bowl of water on the altar. Chao-chou has brought up this saying which he was very fond of and he often liked to bring it up. And then he said that as soon as we speak, that is picking and choosing. If we are clear, we hang onto the clarity. This old student doesn’t even hang onto that. Do you still hang onto anything, or not? So we could say that the greatest method of meditation is that whatever comes up, just don’t cling to it. Whatever comes up, let it go. If you can do this, you’ll find the way home very quickly. But it’s hard. Things stick to you.
– John Tarrant

What do I believe in? Imagination, gardens, science, poetry, love, and a variety of nonviolent consolations. I suspect that in this aggregate all this isn’t enough, but that’s where I am for now.
– Teju Cole, Known and Strange Things: Essays

Not too many people wanted to grant that maybe schools really are political institutions teaching power to the powerful and something unpalatable and self-destructive to the weak.
– June Jordan, Problems of Language in a Democratic State

We huge many-celled creatures have to coordinate millions of different oscillation frequencies, and interactions among frequencies, in our bodies and our environment. Most of the coordination is effected by synchronising the pulses, by getting the beats into a master rhythm, by entrainment…

Being in sync—internally and with your environment—makes life easy. Getting out of sync is always uncomfortable or disastrous. Then there are the rhythms of other human beings. Like the two pendulums, though through more complex processes, two people together can mutually phase-lock. Successful human relationship involves entrainment—getting in sync. If it doesn’t, the relationship is either uncomfortable or disastrous…

Listening is not a reaction, it is a connection. Listening to a conversation or a story, we don’t so much respond as join in—become part of the action.

– Ursula K. Le Guin

If there’s something
inside of you
you’re still warring with
it just means you haven’t yet
fully connected
with the innocence
at its root.
Connection with this sweet
inbuilt medicine
at the base of even
the greatest wound
that heals and informs
all sorrow
and delivers you
into compassion’s soft arms
is just another way to say
– Chelan Harkin

Thinking is hard work; few engage in it.
For those who do there are a number of ways of sorting, each with advantages and disadvantages. They can be broadly categorized:

Natural Thinking. This is fluid and undirected, it wanders and meanders, is subject to repetition and generalizations. The sort of thinking that goes on when we don’t think we’re thinking.

Logical Thinking. This selects a route and follows it to its conclusion. With this approach the solution is largely predetermined, so if you head off in the wrong direction you can end up painting yourself into a corner.

Pattern Thinking. This confines thoughts to operate within given rules. Therefore solutions are limited by the possibilities available within the pattern.

Lateral Thinking. This is purposeful in intent without specific aim. Free-wheeling so it can reveal solutions which might have been overlooked in other approaches.

Grasshopper Thinking. Most of the time our thinking jumps around alternating and mixing between reasoning which adheres to measurable responses, and imagining which allows unpredictable currents to play around with data. Producing an electrico/chemical sludge.”
– Edward de Bono

I recently read in the book My Stroke of Insight by brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor that the natural life span of an emotion – the average time it takes for it to move through the nervous system and body – is only a minute and a half. After that we need thoughts to keep the emotion rolling. So if we wonder why we lock into painful emotional states like anxiety, depression, or rage, we need look no further than our own endless stream of inner dialogue.
– Tara Brach

People in general attach too much importance to words. They are under the illusion that talking effects great results. As a matter of fact, words are, as a rule, the shallowest portion of all the argument. […W]ords are but the vague shadows of the volumes we mean. Little audible links, they are, chaining together great inaudible feelings and purposes.
– Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie

Blue Sonata
by Johm Ashbery

Long ago was the then beginning to seem like now
As now is but the setting out on a new but still
Undefined way. That now, the one once
Seen from far away, is our destiny
No matter what else may happen to us. It is
The present past of which our features,
Our opinions are made. We are half it and we
Care nothing about the rest of it. We
Can see far enough ahead for the rest of us to be
Implicit in the surroundings that twilight is.

We know that this part of the day comes every day
And we feel that, as it has its rights, so
We have our right to be ourselves in the measure
That we are in it and not some other day, or in
Some other place. The time suits us
Just as it fancies itself, but just so far
As we not give up that inch, breath
Of becoming before becoming may be seen,
Or come to seem all that it seems to mean now.

The things that were coming to be talked about
Have come and gone and are still remembered
As being recent. There is a grain of curiosity
At the base of some new thing, that unrolls
In a question mark like a new wave on the shore.
In coming to give, to give up what we had,
We have, we understand, gained or been gained
By what was passing through, bright with the sheen
Of things recently forgotten and revived.
Each image fits into place, with the calm
Of not having too many, of having just enough.
We live in the sigh of our present.

If that was all there was to have
We could re-imagine the other half, deducing it
From the shape of what is seen, thus
Being inserted into its idea of how we
Ought to proceed. It would be tragic to fit
Into the space created by our not having arrived yet,
To utter the speech that belongs there,
For progress occurs through re-inventing
These words from a dim recollection of them,
In violating that space in such a way as
To leave it intact. Yet we do after all
Belong here, and have moved a considerable
Distance; our passing is a façade.
But our understanding of it is justified.

what am I doing now?

waiting for autumn, a season

more fitting my heart

– Michael Boiano

People can’t, unhappily, invent their mooring posts, their lovers and their friends, any more than they can invent their parents. Life gives these and also takes them away and the great difficulty is to say ‘Yes’ to life’
– James Baldwin

Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch.
– James Baldwin

True rebels, after all, are as rare as true lovers, and, in both cases, to mistake a fever for a passion can destroy one’s life.
– James Baldwin

We’re in such a hurry most of the time we never get much chance to talk. The result is a kind of endless day-to-day shallowness, a monotony that leaves a person wondering years later where all the time went and sorry that it’s all gone.
– Robert M. Pirsig

I arrived in Paris tired of ‘normal people,’ and tired, too, of all the prim, proper writers that proliferated at the time—not to mention these days, today there are even more.
– Enrique Vila-Matas

We deny ugliness thinking that we shall achieve beauty.
– Krishnamurti

In a world of fugitives, the person taking the opposite direction will appear to run away.
– T.S. Eliot

I write
and write, and transcend
nothing, escape
nothing, nothing
is truly born from me,
yet magically it’s better
than nothing – I know

you must be quite
changed by now, but you
are just the same, too,
like those stars that keep
shining for a long time after
they go out

– Denis Johnson
excerpt From a Berkeley Notebook
The Incognito Lounge

The only thing I can recommend at this stage is a sense of humor, an ability to see things in their ridiculous and absurd dimensions, to laugh at others and at ourselves, a sense of irony regarding everything that calls out for parody in this world. In other words, I can only recommend perspective and distance.
– Václav Havel

Don’t pour all your energy into defeating what’s already defeating itself at the core, but build living economies, living ways of producing food, the food revolution and the change in holding the land. Changes, basic changes in our judicial system, restorative circles, basic changes in how we understand and measure our wealth and prosperity. Bigger changes than we’ve seen in thousands of years, I think. And then, changing our minds, with it all this awakening to our true identity.
– Joanna Macy

part ii: our obsessions are obsessions, excerpt from Instruction Manual for Little Beasts
by Tessa Micaela

o is thinking about the relationships between people. o is thinking that this thinking is related to power and structures and systems. but as o tries to picture power and structures and systems o can’t picture them. o wonders if anyone else has a hard time visualizing. o does. how should o draw economies. or labor forces. or families. like o said, o has the hardest time holding it all together. o thinks this has something to do with being inside of the power and structures and systems. not just any ones, but specific ones. o thinks, lots of people have explained lots of things, but how much do we really hold the whole picture. o thinks, o sure can’t. o thinks that o is inside what o is trying to picture. like, o goes to the bank. o drives a car. o’s skin allows o to forget about its color. o’s body is mostly able to move about without being noticed as different. o drinks water from the tap. o goes to work. o is thinking about relationships between people and how to translate what o senses into understanding. or how to transmute the language o has for what is wrong into sensations that feel powerful. instead, o dreams of animals in the night. as for the systems o kind of thinks we aren’t meant to imagine ourselves so large. or maybe o just doesn’t have enough to hold on to. these days, o wants things to hold onto. o likes to leave work and ride around town and not tell anyone where o is going. o likes to look at o’s reflection in motion. something soothing about being missing for a little while. something soothing about the ability to move forward on a machine but still be outside. o is thinking how these are not solitary sensations. when o is at work or talking in front of people o sweats. o sweats when o goes to the bank. o sweats when o gets lost riding around town, but it’s a different kind. when o sweats o feels like being beautiful or handsome doesn’t matter. o had this thought about how to change things. o thought o had written it down somewhere, but o couldn’t find any documentation. o is thinking that there is something true about the feeling of being lost. as if true were true. o is thinking this inside-ness is like being beside a jet stream of one’s own life. o is thinking about how choosing a job is both a necessity and often there is no choosing. o is thinking about how we all deserve meaningful work and how that is not the same as a job. also how bus drivers are taking in objects as they move through space and those objects might become the tunnels through which to transform language. or sensation. o has three jobs. only one of them includes physical contact with another human being. this one being a small one, who holds onto o until the mother comes home or the tiny human falls asleep. opaque work. is it meaningful that o collects news and crosses out entire passages in search of what to name from underneath. o is thinking about the relationships between people and o is having the hardest time picturing anything but everybody running in one place and sweating.

a hand touches some piece of o.

o clamps around it,

not because there is feeling anywhere,

or because of desire.

simply, o clamps around it.

exactly is a word o stole from the person who walked behind o and then o felt this sudden and insistent urge to push him down onto the concrete and o suppressed it. what this all says about o’s state of agitation and o’s gender. this is the point at which internally a tiny matchbox or let’s make it a chestful is spilling out. this is the point where the shape no longer serves. how seeing one of them again made o put o’s hands on our chest. o skinned o’s knee on the way here and o could claim that was the source of the rattling but o is in a practice of getting off o’s own distractions. how immediately is unsustainable and o can’t lay palms unceremoniously. o watches the internet and refuses to read a thing. at the night ending o might say no and o might say no again and still the night would keep ending. exactly, says o.

o is on the internet again. this time, there is a place o should be. that is, if location exists in the virtual. o is not very good at the internet, you might say. but o listens in on a conversation of people o admires. all of them represent themselves through their work. o perceives it to be meaningful. one of the people who talks to other people in real time on o’s screen says a good read of our cultural and political conditions is that we are all traumatized. everyone laughs virtually. o doesn’t laugh, but o has the mute button on. o is thinking, does a not-laugh make a sound? that same person says, learning to recognize trauma builds the skills to bring healing into our practices and organizations. the organizations are the ones dealing with the big structures. the ones that slip. much like the internet, o thinks. if we ignore trauma, the person on o’s screen says, it is as if we are studying the systems while we are all hungry. everyone laughs. o has the mute button on. later, looking over o’s notes, o reads what o has written. o reads, this is what trauma does: creates secrecy.

a hand clamps around o.

o begins to sweat.

o says, take it luxuriously.

o says, leave it alone.

That perfect tranquility of life, which is nowhere to be found but in retreat, a faithful friend and a good library.
– Aphra Behn, The Lucky Chance

It is preposterous to take to heart that which you should throw over your shoulders.
– Baltasar Gracián

Among us English-speaking peoples especially do the praises of poverty need once more to be boldly sung. We have grown literally afraid to be poor. We despise any one who elects to be poor in order to simplify and save his inner life. If he does not join the general scramble and pant with the money-making street, we deem him spiritless and lacking in ambition.
We have lost the power even of imagining what the ancient idealization of poverty could have meant: the liberation from material attachments, the unbribed soul, the manlier indifference, the paying our way by what we are or do and not by what we have, the right to fling away our life at any moment irresponsibly—the more athletic trim, in short, the moral fighting shape.
When we of the so-called better classes are scared as men were never scared in history at material ugliness and hardship; when we put off marriage until our house can be artistic, and quake at the thought of having a child without a bank-account and doomed to manual labor, it is time for thinking men to protest against so unmanly and irreligious a state of opinion.
It is true that so far as wealth gives time for ideal ends and exercise to ideal energies, wealth is better than poverty and ought to be chosen. But wealth does this in only a portion of the actual cases. Elsewhere the desire to gain wealth and the fear to lose it are our chief breeders of cowardice and propagators of corruption. There are thousands of conjunctures in which a wealth-bound man must be a slave, whilst a man for whom poverty has no terrors becomes a freeman. Think of the strength which personal indifference to poverty would give us if we were devoted to unpopular causes. We need no longer hold our tongues or fear to vote the revolutionary or reformatory ticket. Our stocks might fall, our hopes of promotion vanish, our salaries stop, our club doors close in our faces; yet, while we lived, we would imperturbably bear witness to the spirit, and our example would help to set free our generation. The cause would need its funds, but we its servants would be potent in proportion as we personally were contented with our poverty. I recommend this matter to your serious pondering, for it is certain that the prevalent fear of poverty among the educated classes is the worst moral disease from which our civilization suffers.”
– William James, Varieties of Religious Experience, a Study in Human Nature

The difference between a short story and a novel is the difference between an inarticulate pang in your heart [and] the tragedy of your whole life.
– Peter Orner

The music you travel with helps you to create your own internal weather.
– Teju Cole

Low clouds and gray, cold and spitting snow,
more like the first of November than October first
except for the geese going over low all morning.

Their frantic cries of leaving fill me with a quiet joy.
The world gets emptier, more barren, and I more alone.
Stillness, O stillness, this damp calm of autumn, this

relinquishing, giving in, gray turning toward winter,
sweet melancholy, welcoming, opening, acceptance,
receiving, this embrace of the quiet and the dark.

– David Budbill

It is preposterous to take to heart that which you should throw over your shoulders.
– Baltasar Gracián

Ironic that it is actually our presence and vibration and what we integrate that matters most and not “what we know” in a headspace.
– Frank LaRue Owen

A god dies when the principle it dramatizes has been forgotten or superseded.
– James Hollis

Avoid people who are always rushing you. You don’t want their chaos disrupting
your vibe and energy.
– @YouRedefined

I dream of lost vocabularies that might express some of what we no longer can.
– Jack Gilbert

A sentence is like a tune.
A memorable sentence gives its emotion
a melodic shape. You want to hear it again,
say it—in a way, to hum it to yourself.
You desire, if only in the sound studio
of your imagination, to repeat
the physical experience of that sentence.

– Robert Pinsky

How I hate those who are dedicated
to producing conformity.
– William S. Burroughs

The rich philistinism emanating
from advertisements is due not
to their exaggerating (or inventing)
the glory of this or that serviceable article
but to suggesting that the acme
of human happiness is purchasable
and that its purchase somehow ennobles
the purchaser.

– Vladimir Nabokov, Lectures on Russian Literature

Method #1

Just write, especially when you are distracted. Know that your words are idiocy. Know that your words are beautiful. Be confident enough to be an ass. Give up the arrogance of systems. Know the elegance of dust. Search for the glitch instead. You are the glitch. You are the mistake. You are the accident.

Just write, in the heat, like a block of ice. Just write the thing. Just write the bacteria of the now. Just write a virgin with her legs spread open. Just write the morning erection. Just write to be. Since you are not, you are. Since you dream you are awake. Since you have died, finally life will begin to flow.

End the tyranny of the egghead philosopher. End the tyranny of the sentence. End the boredom of prose. End the drizzle of the digital. Just write whatever comes. It doesn’t matter. It matters so much.

The telegram killed us all. Now we are all electric sheep. Now are gleeful in fetal razors. Now we dream in upside down symbols. Now the dark king of the world is laughing. Now my eyeballs are bleeding. Now the angels are slipping on the ice.

Where is the logic of sex? Were is the sex of logic? Just write some more words, and don’t try to understand. Stab the editor with an icepick. Give the editor a rose. Cast him from the perimeter. The one who thinks, and thinks and thinks and thinks, but never has a thought.

The ladies are giggling. The men are bragging. The world is making a hell of a noise. The cripple fills his cup with poison, the child follows the snail.

Just write about it, you will capture the heat. The surfer that rises, the moon descends. In the vapor we wander, in the inbetweens we fear madness and bliss.

The sun rises blue from the gutter song. Just write the whole thing, let the music kill the mind. Let the adoration kill the grammatology. Let love bind you and bruise you and pin you to your concrete task.

Just write, what else can you do …

– Andrew Sweeny

Method #2

Advice to self. Abandon posture. Don’t meditate. Give up your pretentious ‘stink of zen’. Stop trying to be cool. Stop trying to be sensitive. Stop trying to be ‘mindful’. Be a slab of concrete. Be clouds. Be wind. Notice yourself doing shit. Notice yourself, eating uselessly, sexing, getting carried away. Notice the theatrical ticks, the inflation, the elation, the caffeine high. Notice the sneaky bastard you are, and your angelic forgetfulness. Don’t ever try to be good or nice. Be stylish. Let the intrinsic gangster issue forth its wisdom.

You are meaner than you think. You are kinder than you think. Let your cock be loose, your pussy be whatever. Life is hilarious. You can’t win at this game. Death wins; his skinny ass, his razor grin. Lay him down on your torn velvet curtain. Give him your convulsions, your laughter. Give him your precious objects. Give him your beehive hairdo. Give him your indifference.

What am I really saying? Nothing whatsoever. No humbug, constipation, locked jaws. No opinionating, no speechifying. It saves you from premature ageing. From being a mouth instead of a body. From outrage and flatulence. Let everybody else win the argument. Let everyone else tweet their rage. Listen to the birds for once. Listen to God talking, the dog barking, the divine indifference. Don’t meditate, even when you meditate. Be useless, be free.

– Andrew Sweeny

In many Native American traditions, one member of the tribe will assume the role of “Faithkeeper”. The role of the Faithkeeper is to remain peaceful and calm, while maintaining spiritual enlightenment and understanding, no matter what the tribe may endure.
Under extreme conditions, if every single tribe member stumbles into fear, doubt, anxiety, worry and pain – the Faithkeeper maintains peace, spirituality and understanding. Therefore, the Faithkeeper is looked upon as the mainstay to the “I AM” presence of God, Great Spirit or Creator. Aho
– Unknown

Our greatest desire is to feel alive. Meaninglessness, depression, and many other symptoms are reflections of our disconnection from our core vitality. When we feel alive, we feel connected, and when we feel connected, we feel alive. Although it brings mental clarity, aliveness is not primarily a mental state; nor is it only sensory pleasure. It is a state of energetic flow and coherency in all systems of the body, brain, and mind.
– Heller & LaPierre, Healing Developmental Trauma

Humor attends the embraces of incompatibles. Who knows whether it is the condition of their occurring or their consequence? Certain it is that we gain composure in the presence of irony by having many former ironies composed within us. And equally certain is it that the less sense we have of humor the more we have to simplify, evade some facts, make up our minds too soon.
– Sidney Cox, Indirections: For Those Who Want to Write

Sometimes it helps whatever shakiness we may have to take an inventory of all we already enjoy: eyes, ears, touch, breath, sun, trees, water, other beings, and persons we love dearly. The list can get so long that our shakiness shuts up for a little while and we find we can just amazingly BE in the grace of all those gifts.
– Gunilla Norris

Hearing poetry starts with the psychological mechanism of prayer.
– Theodore Roethke

Philosophy is really homesickness: the urge to be at home everywhere.
– Novalis

Poetry is a political action taking control
of the language of your life.
Good poems can prevent a suicide,
rescue a love affair & build a revolution
in which speaking & listening to somebody
becomes the first and last purpose
of every social encounter.

– June Jordan, The Introduction to Poetry
for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint

From Poetry of St John of the Cross

“How could I love my fellow men who tortured me?

One night I was dragged into a room
And beaten near death with
their shoes

striking me hundreds of times
in the face, scarring me

I cried out for God to help, until I fainted.

That night in a dream, in a dream more real than this world,
a strap from the Christ’s sandal
fell from my bleeding

and I looked at Him and He
was weeping, and

“I cobbled their boots;
how sorry
I am.

What moves all things
is God.”

– Daniel Ladinsky, Translation

Only amateurs say that they write for their own amusement. Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth.
– Edna Ferber

One must be a sea,
to receive a polluted river
and not be defiled.
– Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

I teach self-reliance, the world’s most subversive practice. I teach people how to grow their own food, which is shockingly subversive. So, yes, it’s seditious. But it’s peaceful sedition.
– Bill Mollison

A Short Testament
Anne Porter

Whatever harm I may have done
In all my life in all your wide creation
If I cannot repair it
I beg you to repair it,

And then there are all the wounded
The poor the deaf the lonely and the old
Whom I have roughly dismissed
As if I were not one of them.
Where I have wronged them by it
And cannot make amends
I ask you
To comfort them to overflowing,

And where there are lives I may have withered around me,
Or lives of strangers far or near
That I’ve destroyed in blind complicity,
And if I cannot find them
Or have no way to serve them,

Remember them. I beg you to remember them

When winter is over
And all your unimaginable promises
Burst into song on death’s bare branches.

Poetry can only save my life if I am taking care of myself enough to read and write it.
– Bianca Stone

one should rise in the morning, look in loving horror at themselves in the mirror, make coffee,
then go write a ridiculous poem
that may, or may not, have wisdom in the last line.
– Bianca Stone

There is a comfort in the strength of love; ‘Twill make a thing endurable, which else would overset the brain, or break the heart.
– William Wordsworth

You are
a mystery

I promise
I will never
try to solve.

– Andrea Gibson

I wondered how it could be
that people could love God
and hate one another.
– Julie Orringer, How to Breathe Underwater

it can take a lifetime to figure out how you sound.
– Miles Davis

It can also take a lifetime to express LOVE with clarity, import, power, gentleness, and beauty through any other creative means.

maybe at the end of a lifetime or two I will figure it out.

– Ari Annona

Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.
– Thomas Henry Huxley

…Erich Fromm wondered why most people did not become insane in the face of the existential contradiction between a symbolic self, that seems to give man infinite worth in a timeless scheme of things, and a body that is worth about 98¢.
– Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death

Somebody gets into trouble,
then gets out of it again.
People love that story.
They never get tired of it.
– Kurt Vonnegut

To make a revolution, people must not only struggle against existing institutions. They must make a philosophical/ spiritual leap and become more ‘human’ human beings. In order to change/transform the world, they must change/transform themselves.
– Grace Lee Boggs

Those who have the patience
to do simple things perfectly
will acquire the skill
to do difficult things easily.
– Friedrich Schiller


The unfamiliar is always going to appear incoherent.

It wont make sense.
To what we thought we knew,

At first.
The importance of surrealism
Reminds us also
That stranger times
… would offer the new.

But who would know?

– Nora Bateson

Maybe you’re shrinking because you never figured out how to fit into this world. How to carve out a spot and make it your own.
– L.E. Bowman

I do dimly perceive that whilst everything
around me is ever changing, ever dying,
there is underlying all that change
a living power that is changeless,
that holds all together, that creates,
dissolves and recreates…for I can see
that in the midst of death, life persists,
in the midst of untruth, truth persists,
in the midst of darkness, light persists.
– Mahatma Gandhi

Since individual organisms perceive incipient friendliness in others, the living have been avidly using their empathic abilities to form well-working alliances for a very long time, thereby transforming themselves and their worlds. People are often attracted to those who, though somewhat similar, are also very different, those who challenge them to learn and develop, while also getting comfortably attached. Through mixing what different psyches are made, new identities of shared experience take root and grow. Often whole teams of these patterns of togetherness are collaboratively constructed. And the more the love, the more these relational constructs become treasured parts of one’s identity.
– George Gorman

To operate within the matrix of power is not the same as to replicate uncritically relations of domination.
– Judith Butler

Know, O man, that Light is thine heritage. Know that darkness is only a veil. Sealed in thine heart is brightness eternal, waiting the moment of freedom to conquer, waiting to rend the veil of the night.

Some I found who had conquered the ether. Free of space were they while yet they were men. Using the force that is the foundation of ALL things, far in space constructed they a planet, drawn by the force that flows through the ALL; condensing, coalescing the ether into forms, that grew as they willed. Outstripping in science, they, all of the races, mighty in wisdom, sons of the stars.

Long time I paused, watching their wisdom.
Saw them create from out of the ether cities gigantic of rose and gold. Formed forth from the primal element, base of all matter, the ether far flung. Far in the past, they had conquered the ether, freed themselves from the bondage of toil; formed in heir mind only a picture and swiftly created, it grew.

Forth then, my soul sped, throughout the Cosmos, seeing ever, new things and old; learning that man is truly space-born, a Sun of the Sun, a child of the stars.”
– Hermes Trismegistus, The Emerald Tablet Of Hermes

God doesn’t need a lot to do a lot.
All David had was five stones.
And all David used was one.
– Tony Evans

Mind Paintings
Stories are more intricate than anything stitched or woven, since the tiniest story has uncountable details spliced in. And each organism’s sense of what is relevant to its particular story depends on its own felt sense of how and “what for” a story is developing. Thus George Monbiot says, “A string of facts, however well-attested, will not correct or dislodge a powerful story….When the social democracy story dominated, even the Conservatives and Republicans adopted key elements of the programme. When neoliberalism took its place, political parties everywhere, regardless of their colour, fell under its spell. These stories overrode everything: personality, identity and party history. This should not surprise us. We all possess a narrative instinct: an innate disposition to listen for an account of who we are and where we stand. The only thing that can displace a story is a story.” That is, a new understanding.

When you understand something new, this changes you. Little understandings change us a little while the big ones radically alter one’s sense of self or world. Fully understanding something can mean long term significance, as when one understands one’s entire existence in a new way. But understanding is still basic, as when a child finally gets what a toilet is for. Every self-engendered story of your own life changes the matrix of narratives you inhabit. Yet all of the meanings we ascribe to our intentions, perceptions and feelings about them are nothing more than interpretations and explanations, no matter how faithful they are to what they’re attempting to represent.

When making these mind-paintings for oneself, it helps to pause in whatever you’re doing for long enough to resonate with the unknown depths of what you’re perceiving or considering, thereby resonating with essential qualities of that focus. And the understanding is not quite the same as the object of one’s understanding, even as it tries to be. The interpretation of every perception is your own personal poetry – much of it preverbal and semi-conscious. This basic skill of understanding is always about communicating with oneself, even when you’re taking a break from focusing on yourself. And please be very suspicious of too much narrative control, which can obscure a new understanding.

Of course, understandings can be empty and untrue, especially if one’s sense of feeling-speech has gone numb. So understanding isn’t just a radio receiving a broadcast from elsewhere. We’re always correlating our own perceptions, memories, feelings and ideas to make meanings. Yes, discerning the character and meaning of something is just the receiving phase of a communicative process. Which could just be a shorter term story, as when you hear what your partner wants from the store, or you need to understand more about the unknown figure approaching. But you could also suddenly understand a better way of expressing or introducing yourself; or understanding yourself. No matter which, this often depends on how actively you’re questioning what you experience. And one’s empathic sensitivity can make a difference through sensing what feels most relevant or meaningful, thus shaping what to focus on next.

Experience is qualitative and emotions are essential qualifiers of experience. Our changing feelings qualitatively distinguish one moment from the next while also connecting moments from different times through their potency as what David Gelernter calls, “essence summarizers” in The Tides of Mind. He says, “The fact that emotional response can transcend (or be independent of) content or meaning gives it the power to inspire surprising analogies….Because emotional responses transcend content or meaning, they make it possible to move ‘sideways’ freely from thought to thought: thinking about trees in forests, I find myself thinking about high-rise buildings in cities.” And such “surprising analogies” may lead to creative new understandings. As Gelernter adds, “Without emotional sympathy the promise inherent in the word ‘understanding,’ cannot possibly be fulfilled.” This tendency to rapidly prioritize perceptions in emotionally sensitive ways must often work, or else it wouldn’t have become so habitual for all of the living.
– George Gorman

You sustain the Dharma by walking hand in hand with your sisters and brothers of the Buddha Sangha, completely open to their human anguish, feeling that anguish as your own.
– Robert Aitken, The Gateless Barrier

There is a world out there, so new,
so random and disassociated
that it puts us all in danger.
We talk online, we ‘friend’ each other
when we don’t know
who we are really talking to—
we fuck strangers.
We mistake almost anything
for a relationship, a community of sorts,
and yet, when we are with our families,
in our communities, we are clueless,
we short-circuit
and immediately dive back
into the digitized version—
it is easier,
because we can be both our truer selves
and our fantasy selves all at once,
with each carrying equal weight.
– A.M. Homes, May We Be Forgiven

Being a sensitive person can be a confusing, complicated thing in this still harsh world. It feels intuitively right to open, to feel, to enhearten our daily life, but the world is still vibrating at a more armored and edgy place. It is not yet attuned to the ways of the open heart. So what to do? We don’t want to deaden our capacity to feel, but if we feel too much, we get run over by an often heartless world. I have found my best answer in three places: (1) Selective Attachment; that is- carefully discerning between positive and negative individuals and environments, and only attaching to those people and places that can hold our tender heart safe; (2) Strong energetic boundaries; that is- being physically and emotionally charged, so that we can more effectively repel unwelcome energies; (3) Conscious Armoring; that is- learning how to put on armor when necessary to manage the world and difficult situations, and, consciously removing it when it is no longer needed. If we cultivate these practices, we stand a much better chance of preserving our sensitivity. Once we lose it, we lose our connection to the moment altogether. Here’s to a sensitive way of being! Sensitivity is a portal to divinity. What a courageous path.
– Jeff Brown

Dare to reach into the darkness to pull someone into the light. Remember strong people not only stand up for themselves, they stand up for others too.
– Anon

Eye contact is the most intimacy
two people can have—
forget sex—
because the optic nerve is technically
an extension of the brain,
and when two people look into each other’s eyes,
it’s brain-to-brain.
– Douglas Coupland, Hey Nostradamus!

Many people respond to Buddhism as if it were a new cult which might save them, which might enable them to deal with the world in the manner of picking flowers in a beautiful garden. But if we wish to pick flowers from a tree, we must first cultivate the roots and trunk, which means that we must work with our fears, frustrations, disappointments, and irritations—the painful aspects of life.
– Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Spiritual transformation, like love, is not a matter for abstract reason and analysis. It partakes of mystery, of unpredictability, or grace.
– Lewis Richmond, Enlightenment Needs a Minyan

When all your desires are distilled You will cast just two votes: To love more, And be happy.
– Hafiz

An anxiety is a lens through which to view the world, a colouration that grants the sufferer’s experiences their distinctive hue. The Buddha alerted us to a fundamental metaphysical feature of this world, the ‘co-dependent arising’ of all that we experience and know. That is, nothing possesses existence independent of all else that makes it so: an anxious person inhabits a world coloured and contoured by their own, highly individual anxieties; it is a world co-constructed by the sufferer and his or her anxieties. Anxiety is therefore a perspective, a hermeneutical relationship with the world, whose text now gets read in a very peculiar way by this anxiety-laden vision. Things and persons and events fall into focus depending on their interactions with our anxieties: that man in the corner becomes threatening, this chair becomes unstable and unbalanced, that food becomes the agent of a fatal illness, my family – my wife, my daughter – appear as targets for cruel twists of fate. I live in a distinctive world shaded and illuminated by an idiosyncratic anxiety.
– Samir Chopra

Bright blue smoky brisk autumn temperature
– Ned Rorem, The New York Diary

This is as far as the light
of my understanding
has carried me:
an October morning
a canoe built by hand
a quiet current

above me the trees arc
green and golden
against a cloudy sky

below me the river responds
with perfect reflection
a hundred feet deep
a hundred feet high.

To take a cup of this river
to drink its purple and gray
its golden and green

to see
a bend in the river up ahead
and still

– Julie Cadwallader-Staub

a crescent moon
on a clear night
migrating geese
– Ogawa

The point of writing philosophy is to be a catalyst to other people’s thought, not to set down the truth for all time.
– Nigel Warburton

The best way to neutralize our natural impatience is to cultivate a kind of pleasure in pain – like an athlete, you come to enjoy rigorous practice, pushing past your limits, and resisting the easy way out.
– Robert Greene

When someone we love dies, we get so busy mourning what died that we ignore what didn’t.
– Ram Dass

In a world without the sacred we have become only tourists.
– Roberto Calasso

Leave a trail of letters like those little knots of bread we used to dream about. We used to dream about them. We used to do a lot of things.
– @sikenpoems

The issue of government has always been whether individual men and women will have to serve some system of government and economics, or whether a system of government and economics exists to serve individual men and women.”
– FDR, 1932

Harmony is the reconciliation of opposites, not the crushing of differences.
– Jean Cocteau

These births and deaths are changes in nature which we are mistaking for changes in us.
– Swami Vivekananda

Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.
– Colin Powell

don’t be stunned
by the cold air
– Issa

Until you understand a writer’s ignorance, presume yourself ignorant of his understanding.
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Whoever follows impure thoughts Suffers in this world and the next. In both worlds he suffers And how greatly.
– Buddha

I didn’t know mechanicsburg was a real place. I thought ezra koenig made it up for syllabic parallelism
– @HannahSeidlitz

My only serious comment on the days-old discourse: We tend to confer moral authority on writers with more bylines, who are more popular, and/or better connected. We assume they’re credible.

I don’t know why this is, but let’s please abandon this thinking going forward.
– Anjali Enjeti

any time you critique an oppressive system, people come to you demanding a perfectly articulated step-by-step plan for creating a flawless alternative system, today. as if the system we are currently locked inside of were meticulously designed from the top down. it wasn’t.
– Devon Price

The ego gets what it wants with words. The soul finds what it needs in silence.
– Richard Rohr

We even tell ourselves that monotheisms are superior to polytheisms, that dualisms are only contradictions. But the contradictions of most theistic positions are then driven underground, only to surface later as troubling paradox, or unacceptable ambiguity.
– James Hollis, Ph.D.

As you heal your attractions change too. Toxicity stops looking like excitement, and peace stops feeling like boredom.
– Unknown

Everyone at a high level has a huge amount of chess understanding, and much of what separates the great from the very good is deep presence, relaxation of the conscious mind, which allows the unconscious to flow unhindered.
– Josh Waitzkin

Maybe targeting is just the friends we met along the way.
– @hmntre

by Jim Harrison
Nowhere is it the same place as yesterday.
None of us is the same person as yesterday.
We finally die from the exhaustion of becoming.
This downward cellular jubilance is shared
by the wind, bugs, birds, bears and rivers,
and perhaps the black holes in galactic space
where our souls will all be gathered in an invisible
thimble of antimatter. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Yes, trees wear out as the wattles under my chin
grow, the wrinkled hands that tried to strangle
a wife beater in New York City in 1957.
We whirl with the earth, catching our breath
as someone else, our soft brains ill-trained
except to watch ourselves disappear into the distance.
Still, we love to make music of this puzzle.

by Nancy Miller Gomez

They used books as weapons.
This is not a metaphor.
Because there were no blankets and they were cold,
the men in cell block L threw books
with intent to do bodily harm.
They rained down from above.
Rained down from the cells.
Guards shielded themselves
with dinner trays and mop buckets.
The men tossed entire libraries. A rage of books.
Lobbed in high arcs like footballs,
or pitched overhand like grenades.
Hardcovers shattered on cheekbones
or exploded on the back of someone’s head.
Paperbacks spiraled down, loose pages fluttering.
Thin ones skipped across the shiny tile like stones on water.
There was mayhem. There was blood.
Words littered the floor. Guards ran for their lives.
The men had spent years collecting—
biographies, mysteries, histories, science fiction,
even poetry books, their spines fine and reedy,
or thick with free verse.
One man threw his grandmother’s leather Bible.
Inside the front cover in elegant script
she’d noted the date and time of his birth.
Now it lay face down, back broken.
Another man hurled his family album.
It fell from the third floor, the photos scattering
on impact. His wife, his son, his daughter
smiled up from the chaos.

Take care you don’t know anything in this world
too quickly or easily. Everything
is also a mystery and has its own secret aura in the moonlight,
its private song.
– Mary Oliver

What I want is the other world in this world. What I want is the way up and the way down, the way in and the way out. What I want is the poem that rears up like a mythic creature from the dark place of origins, only to transform into the holy, unrepeatable faces of the living. What I want is the mythic wings still thrumming inside them.
– Joseph Fasano

It is a dark fall day.
The earth is slightly damp with rain.
I hear a jay.
The cry is blue.
I have found you in the story again.
Is there another word for ‘divine’?
I need a song that will keep sky open in my mind.
If I think behind me, I might break.
If I think forward, I lose now.
Forever will be a day like this
Strung perfectly on the necklace of days.
Slightly overcast
Yellow leaves
Your jacket hanging in the hallway
Next to mine.
– Joy Harjo

It becomes clear that the “ground” of European thought is a “rift”
(Riss). It is impossible to deepen or cancel out this “rift” into a
“unity” or “identity.” Nevertheless, European thought tends to
affirm the stable “presence” of its essential categories…It would
have to be the case that the notion of stable entities—and their
operative conceptuality—is in fact unfounded.
– Peter Trawny, Heidegger A Critical Introduction

Time gallops.
– Robert Plant

The only dream worth having is to dream that you will live while you are alive, and die only when you are dead. To love, to be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of the life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.
– Arundhati Roy

The other Jews call me a heretic. Well, I am. And worse, an iconoclast too: my goal is nothing less than the breaking of all religious containers (and not just Judaism) for the sake of liberating God. In the words of my 18th century namesake and predecessor, Yakov Leib Frank, ‘All the faiths and conducts and the books that have been written till today — everyone who reads in them is like someone who has turned his head backwards and is looking at things already dead. All of it comes from the Gate of Death. But the wise man’s eyes are ever in his head so he must look towards He-Who-Walks-In-Front.’ Like Frank and the other radical antinomian Kabbalists who came before him, I worship God and not religion; I seek for His salvation and not my own…..or, even less-so, yours
– Reb Yakov Leib HaKohain

During long periods of history, the mode of human sense perception changes with humanity’s entire mode of existence. The manner in which human sense perception is organized, the medium in which it is accomplished, is determined not only by nature but by historical circumstances as well.
– Walter Benjamin

No one is a poet from eight to twelve and from two to six. Whoever is a poet is one always, and continually assaulted by poetry.
– Jorge Luis Borges

If uncertainty is unacceptable to you, it turns into fear. If it is perfectly acceptable, it turns into increased aliveness, alertness, and creativity.
– Eckhart Tolle

To change from a war economy to a peace economy; from a dirty economy to a clean energy economy; from an economic to a humanitarian bottom line. These things are not utopian ideals; they are the only survivable option for the human race.
– Marianne Williamson

Too many people carry on unconsciously in their mental models, dividing & making themselves “right” & others “wrong”. While they’re closed off to the reality of diverse thought, I hope you keep doing you, build energetic integrity, stay heart-led & take as much space as you need.
– @IAmMyBestToday

Contemplation, you see, has no very close connection with dreaminess and idle musing: it is more like the intense effort of vision, the passionate and self-forgetful act of communion, presupposed in all creative art.
– Evelyn Underhill

The individual, by means of the discipline imposed on him by sport, not only plays and finds relaxation from the various compulsions to which he is subjected, but without knowing it trains himself for new compulsions.

Training in sports makes of the individual an efficient piece of apparatus which is henceforth unacquainted with anything but the harsh joys of exploiting his body and winning.
– Jacques Ellul

Radio is now the chief agent of imperialism. It does not purify the spirit of man, does not, like the book, bring him back to the sanctuary of solitude, but throws him to the lions, subtly preparing his mind for the blood and chains of public sacrifice.
– Georges Duhamel

Misfortunes one can endure – they come from the outside; they are accidents. But to suffer for one’s own faults – ah, there is the sting of life.
– Oscar Wilde

If we all downed tools and joined hands for ten minutes and stopped believing in money, then money would no longer exist…Maybe money is the great conspiracy, the great fiction. The great addiction too: we’re all addicted and we can’t break the habit now.
– Martin Amis

We don’t sing to distinguish ourselves, my brother, from other people. We sing to bring the people together.
– Yiannis Ritsos

Americans truly are professionals at pretending that nothing’s wrong
– Nikki Wallschlaeger

Collage, like fragmentation, allows you to frustrate the expectation of continuity, of step-by-step linearity. And if the fields you juxtapose are different enough there are sparks from the edges.

Those sparks & edges!
– RW

Nearly all our originality comes from the stamp that time impresses upon our sensibility.
– Charles Baudelaire

America could be a metaphor
but it isn’t.
– Kaveh Akbar

Academics “are workers and our employers do not care what we think, what we fear, or how we get through the day. So, we are very much like the public—without real advocates and in desperate need of ideas, politics, organization, and solidarity.
– @KeeangaYamahtta

This shall be the nature of the remission: every creditor shall release their authority over what they claim from their neighbor. They shall not force it from their neighbor or their sibling, for God’s remission has been proclaimed…
– Deuteronomy 15:2

You know, I must have a heart– it’s the only explanation.
– Virginia Woolf

I thought I could just stroll quietly around the edge of the discourse, but the extreme density of the discourse pulls everything toward it, including space-time. There is no escape
– Elisa Gabbert

quietly sipping
my lucky tea
– Ogawa

There is nothing more energizing than joy; nothing more tiring than anxiety.
– Les penseurs de l’intime, ed. Nicolas Truong

[…] the lethargies of listless reading, restless wanderings through books that always seem posthumous, words another might have read with profit, falling from the hand like tattered leaves…
– Reginald Shepherd, The Friend

Because words dazzle in the dizzy light of things
and the soul is like an animal —hunted and slow—
this buffalo walks through me every night as if I was
some kind of prairie and hunkers against the cold dark,
snorting under the stars while the fog of its breathing
rises in the air, and it is the loneliest feeling I know

[…] and today while the seismic quietness of
the earth spun beneath my feet and while the world
I guess carried on, that lumbering thing moved heavy
thick and dark through the dreams I believe we keep
having whether we sleep or not and when you see it

again say I’m sorry for things you didn’t do and
then offer it some sweet-grass and tell it stories
you remember from the star-chamber of the womb
or at least the latest joke, something good to keep it
company as otherwise it doesn’t know you are here
for love, and like the world tonight, doesn’t really
care whether we live or die. Tell it you do and why.
– Steve Scafidi, For the Last American Buffalo

The passion for being for ever with one’s fellows, and the fear of being left for a few hours alone, is to me wholly incomprehensible. I can entertain myself quite well for weeks together, hardly aware, except for the pervading peace, that I have been alone at all.
– Elizabeth von Arnim, Elizabeth and Her German Garden

There is always
more opening to do,
especially beside the river
when the sun is low,
or especially in the kitchen
when the hum of the fridge
ohms through the ache
that rides the belly,
or when speaking
of love the voice breaks
and the heart breaks
and more love pours in.
There is always more
opening, especially now
when I am no longer a thin green shoot.
Grace, says my friend,
grace and nature, that
is all there is, and I
could not explain to you
what she meant, but
I knew sure as the luminous
moon that I will never reach,
sure as a morning glory
opens to the sun,
that it was true.
– Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

As human beings we share a tendency to scramble for certainty whenever we realize that everything around us is in flux. In difficult times the stress of trying to find solid ground – something predictable and safe to stand on – seems to intensify. But in truth, the very nature of our existence is forever in flux. Everything keeps changing, whether we’re aware of it or not.

What a predicament! We seem doomed to suffer simply because we have a deep-seated fear of how things really are. Our attempts to find lasting pleasure, lasting security, are at odds with the fact that we’re part of a dynamic system in which everything and everyone is in process…

Our discomfort arises from all of our efforts to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okayness. When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into this dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment, or awakening to our true nature, to our fundamental goodness. Another word for this is freedom – freedom from struggling against the fundamental ambiguity of being human….

We have a choice. We can spend our whole life suffering because we can’t relax with how things really are, or we can relax and embrace the open-endedness of the human situation, which is fresh, unfixated, unbiased.

– Pema Chodron

Sometimes I prefer not to untangle it.
I prefer it to remain disorganized,

because it is richer that way,
like a certain shrubbery I pass each day on Reba Street

in an unimpressive yard, in front of a home that seems unoccupied:
a chest-high, spreading shrub with large white waxy blossoms—

whose stalks are climbed and woven through simultaneously
by a different kind of vine with small magenta flowers

that appear and disappear inside the maze of leaves
like tiny purple stitches.

The white and purple combination of these species,
one seeming to possibly be strangling the other,

one possibly lifting the other up—it would take both
a botanist and a psychologist to figure it all out

—but I prefer not to disentangle it,
because it is more accurate.

My ferocious love, and how it repeatedly is trapped
inside the fear of being sentimental;

my need to control even the kindness of the world,
rejecting gifts for which I am not prepared;

my inextinguishable conviction
that I am scheduled for some kind of destination.

I could probably untangle it,
yet I prefer to walk down Reba Street instead,

in the sunlight and the wind, with no mastery
of my feelings or my thoughts,

purple and ivory and green not understanding what I am
and yet in certain moments remembering, and bursting into tears,

somewhat confused as the vines run through me
and flower unexpectedly.

– Tony Hoagland

The Film
by Kate Northrop

Come, let’s go in.
The ticket-taker
has shyly grinned
and it’s almost time,
Lovely One.
Let’s go in.

The wind tonight’s too wild.
The sky too deep,
too thin. Already it’s time.
The lights have dimmed.
Come, Loveliest.
Let’s go in

and know these bodies
we do not have to own, passing
quietly as dreams, as snow.
Already leaves are falling
and music begins.
Lovely One,

it’s time.
Let’s go in.

Something dry and melancholy rustling underfoot
– Wendy Xu

Let me tell you something
More than words can say
But they’re all I have, no other way
There’s a river flowing
By a willow tree
When you find you’re there remember me
My only love
– Bryan Ferry

When half-gods go,
The gods arrive.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

I wish I could just get directly to the gods, in writing and in life. But for me as a human being it seems I have to go through the half-gods and their destruction in order to get to the gods. I don’t always trust that I’m going to get to the gods. Sometimes the destruction of the half-gods feels like the end of me. But I keep going. So it’s like my feet trust, or—in the case of writing—my voice trusts, or my fingers trust, even though I don’t.

Someone once said to me that faith is a muscle. And I think this is probably true in my writing and my life. You just keep going.

– Melissa Broder

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment. For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone.
– Vita Sackville-Wes

Regardless of time, place or even forms. I believe I will be able to find you and love you once more.
– j

There has always been a force struggling to respect higher values. None of the current evils rose without resistance, nor have they persisted without opposition.
– Rev. Dr. MLK, Jr.

Immerse yourself in the common ground of the universe so that your true voice — not the egoistic voice that clamors vainly for power (for it will ruin you if you listen to it) — your authentic voice … may be heard.
– Melissa Pritchard

The mind can go in a thousand directions.
But on this beautiful path, I walk in peace.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Humans are not designed to have the entire world’s news thrown at them all the time.
– Naval Ravikant

Oh. To be filled with goodness then shattered by goodness, so beautifully mosaically fragmented by such shocking goodness.
– Ali Smith

No one is a poet from eight to twelve and from two to six. Whoever is a poet is one always, and continually assaulted by poetry.
– Jorge Luis Borges

The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.
– Robert Hughes

Poetry helps me understand who I am. It helps me understand the world around me. But above all, what poetry has taught me is the fact that I need to embrace mystery in order to be completely human.
– Yusef Komunyakaa

The gigantic catastrophes that threaten us are not elemental happenings of a physical or biological kind, but are psychic events. We are threatened in a fearful way by wars and revolutions that are nothing else than psychic epidemics.
– CG Jung

receiving relief
from heaven
– Ogawa

I will never not be amazed at the concept of Interlibrary Loan.
– Evan Sullivan

a morning
of steady rainfall
hot tea
– Ogawa

Thing I could do without: literary biographies that are utterly disdainful of their subjects.
– Daniel Torday

If no outer adventure happens to you, then no inner in adventure happens to you either.
– CG Jung

Begin again to the summoning birds
to the sight of the light at the window,
begin to the roar of morning traffic
all along Pembroke Road.
Every beginning is a promise
born in light and dying in dark
determination and exaltation of springtime
flowering the way to work.
Begin to the pageant of queuing girls
the arrogant loneliness of swans in the canal
bridges linking the past and future
old friends passing though with us still.
Begin to the loneliness that cannot end
since it perhaps is what makes us begin,
begin to wonder at unknown faces
at crying birds in the sudden rain
at branches stark in the willing sunlight
at seagulls foraging for bread
at couples sharing a sunny secret
alone together while making good.
Though we live in a world that dreams of ending
that always seems about to give in
something that will not acknowledge conclusion
insists that we forever begin.
– Brendan Kennelly

Ethan Nichtern:
This human realm will always be slightly broken. The flaws are perpetual. It can’t be perfected. There’s always a screw loose, always a thing left undone, forever an incompletion. That’s what it means to be human.

If we want to wake up, this is what we wake up to.

When we hear his call, we hear no mere bird. We hear the trumpet in the orchestra of evolution.
– Aldo Leopold

The pebble is dull on the ground, dull as day compared to night; but the moment water takes it back she makes it shine.
– Francis Ponge

The Lazy Bees
Twenty October
seventy degrees.
The lazy bees
and feed
on the
– David Budbill

People have good hearts whether or not they live like Dharma Bums.
– @DailyKerouac

To change from a war economy to a peace economy; from a dirty economy to a clean energy economy; from an economic to a humanitarian bottom line. These things are not utopian ideals; they are only survivable option for the human race.
– Marianne Williamson

And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends.
– Job 42:10a

Your ‘yes’ to God requires your ‘no’ to all injustice, to all evil, to all lies, to all oppression and violation of the weak and poor…
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Almost all the leaves
are down. Rain.
Clouds make a fog
just above the trees.
The world colder
more empty every day.
My favorite
time of year.
– David Budbill

I’m a Californian to my core and I say that “dude” is an absolutely non binary, non gender specific pronoun. I will even occasionally refer to inanimate objects as “dude”. Thoughts?
– Andrew Quist

You need only to put down the grudge you are holding so you can pick up the phone and say, How many days did we need each other at the same time without knowing it?
– Andrea Gibson

When all your desires are distilled You will cast just two votes: To love more, And be happy.
– Hafiz

You are
a mystery
I promise
I will never
try to solve.
– Andrea Gibson

A poet needs to keep his wilderness alive inside him. To remain a poet after forty requires an awareness of your darkest Africa, that part of yourself that will never be tamed.
– Stanley Kunitz

It would be a mistake to think this culture clear-cuts only forests, it clear-cuts our psyches as well. It would be a mistake to think it dams only rivers. We ourselves are dammed (and damned) by it as well. It would be a mistake to think it creates dead zones only in the ocean. It creates dead zones in our hearts and minds. It would be a mistake to think it fragments only our habitat. We too are fragmented, split off, shredded, rent, torn.
– Derrick Jensen

Tension against the stream is habitual, and the frustration which it engenders is chronic. If I believe that I would like to break a habit, that very wish is another form of the same tension. And this in turn is a form of the basic un-get-at-ability of it.
– Alan Watts

Don’t ‘turn off the news.” There is no perfect, peaceful place. We make peace only by making friends with ourself, and caring about others—not by hiding from our world.
– Waylon Lewis

I will cut adrift.
I will sit on pavements and drink coffee.
I will dream.
I will take my mind out of its iron cage
and let it swim this fine October.
– Virginia Woolf

Wonderful things start to happen when you dream outside of your sleep.
– Richard Wilkins

It should be possible to create a Commons of Learning that doesn’t derive its power and stability from the suppression of impulsive behavior. Though it’s still a dream that an authentic democracy can be a viable alternative to compulsive authorities of every stripe, the natural world shows that it is possible to preserve both impulsive autonomy and social order. There is some room for free initiative in the supposedly democratic societies these days. Some say too much room. But aberrant behavior more often results from coercive conditioning, with the traumatic confusion that goes with it, than from natural impulses. So why would a professed democracy endorse a style of education that discourages impulsive initiative in its children, when this is one of the most important qualities needed to function as a valued participant? As every tyranny has shown, you can’t force someone to be an obedient automaton and then expect them to use their initiative in constructive ways. Which poses a real dilemma to parents and teachers who want their children to be both free and responsible. Yet authentic individuals from every age have managed to be true to themselves while also caring deeply about how their lives influence those of others.
– George Gorman 

Living minds can broadcast friendliness whenever they feel like it. Trees do it all the time. Affectionate influences and connected bonds are a common concern that can make a big difference in the quality of a life, a community, and a planet. Some of us have become more vulnerable for long enough to interact in truly memorable ways. Some are so skilled at inspiring vulnerable connections that they have touched and befriended many wild creatures – some who are even not human – by opening to being inwardly affected and influenced by input from another living being.
– George Gorman

Instead of physically shaping the floating potency of an idea into the momentary immediacy of an action, understandings abstract the details of physical experience into metaphysical nuggets of conceptual value persisting only in one’s mind.
– George Gorman

Is there a language for falling out of language?
– Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

Where do we go, when we’re lost – when the humans around us (much as we love them) can’t seem to help us? We go where we’ve been taught to forget to go. Where our ancestors have always gone. To the woods and the old ways. To the hedgelands and edgelands; to the threshold places and liminal zones. We go looking for the Others who dwell there; we go listening for the murmurs of the dreaming land. We go looking for a wisdom that’s wilder and wiser than our own.
– Sharon Blackie

Today the cloud shapes are terrifying,
and I keep expecting some enormous
black-and-white B-movie Cyclops
to appear at the edge of the horizon,

to come striding over the ocean
and drag me from my kitchen
to the deep cave that flickered
into my young brain one Saturday

at the Baronet Theater where I sat helpless
between my older brothers, pumped up
on candy and horror – that cave,
the litter of human bones

gnawed on and flung toward the entrance,
I can smell their stench as clearly
as the bacon fat from breakfast. This
is how it feels to lose it –

not sanity, I mean, but whatever it is
that helps you get up in the morning
and actually leave the house
on those days when it seems like death

in his brown uniform
is cruising his panel truck
of packages through your neighborhood.
I think of a friend’s voice

on her answering machine –
Hi, I’m not here –
the morning of her funeral,
the calls filling up the tape

and the mail still arriving,
and I feel as afraid as I was
after all those vampire movies
when I’d come home and lie awake

all night, rigid in my bed,
unable to get up
even to pee because the undead
were waiting underneath it;

if I so much as stuck a bare
foot out there in the unprotected air
they’d grab me by the ankle and pull me
under. And my parents said there was

nothing there, when I was older
I would know better, and now
they’re dead, and I’m older,
and I know better.
– Kim Addonizio

My grandmother once gave me a tip:
In difficult times, you move forward in small steps.
Do what you have to do, but little by little.
Don’t think about the future, or what may happen tomorrow.
Wash the dishes.
Remove the dust.
Write a letter.
Make a soup.
You see?
You are advancing step by step.
Take a step and stop.
Rest a little.
Praise yourself.
Take another step.
Then another.
You won’t notice, but your steps will grow more and more.
And the time will come when you can think about the future without crying.
– Elena Mikhalkova

On ecstasy

Dear egghead self, concept generator machine
Have you lost yourself in notions of good and evil, politeness and offence?
Have you stumbled into the ultimate system, and the perfect mental fix?
Have you plugged your dick so thoroughly into the machine?

When machines becomes drugs, when you eat them as they eat you
In a perfect self eating autopoiesis
Will you call that ecstasy
Your tower of porn?

And when you have placed your glass pyramid in the sun
Will you call that your palace?
Don’t you know that almost everything you have created is fake
Including your palace of short lived ecstasy?

No I have seen real ecstasy and it is not that wet friction between machine parts
It is neither hot nor cold
There is nobody there
It is the context, not the content
It isn’t focus or concentration
Don’t you know that there are no objects in love!

Not that you shouldn’t play that game
Play it to its conclusion
Be fully theatrical in your meaty chains
Don’t remain in the inbetween
Jerking off to the digital sirens

I think that you will conclude
That it isn’t really real at all
Which is how you have find fun again
By knowing the transparency of objects
By knowing that they don’t exist
And that your orgasm, your system of knowledge,
Has no weight
Compared to a child’s ecstasy
As he contemplates a snail

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that Rousseau
And The Marquis de Sade weren’t the same person
Or that nature isn’t a green riot of eating each other
But the nature of nature – that is another thing altogether

Still you have your plans, you have your objectives,
You see your lover as something instead of Her
Can you see her at all?
Or do you see an image, a symbol, a thing?

The place to start:
There are no things, as every mystic knows,
There just the mystical fire

Don’t they dissolve In your hand,
evaporate in your mind
cause cataracts, scars
That seems to make a permanent mark
But Cain too fades

The question is the same question asked forever
What remains of this impossible love affair?
What can be distilled in your alchemic chamber?
What dies and what falls to the golden ground?
What was the ecstasy saying beyond her formal ejaculations?

– Andrew Sweeny

William Shatner on his trip to space:

Space is cold and ominous and ugly, and it really threatens death. There’s death there. And you look down, and there’s this warm, nurturing planet,…we’re at the tipping point, we haven’t got time to wait 30 years and argue about a few billion dollars. Burying your head in the sand another instant about global warming and the destruction of the planet is suicide for all of us.
What is tragic is if our children, especially our children’s children, don’t have a chance to be part of this beautiful thing we call Earth and it’s just sad.

Heartbreak begins the moment we are asked to let go but cannot, in other words, it colors and inhabits and magnifies each and every day; heartbreak is not a visitation, but a path that human beings follow through […]. Heartbreak is an indication of our sincerity: in a love relationship, in a life’s work, in trying to learn a musical instrument, in the attempt to shape a better more generous self. Heartbreak is the beautifully helpless side of love and affection and is [an] essence and emblem of care… [W]e use the word heartbreak as if it only occurs when things have gone wrong: an unrequited love, a shattered dream… But heartbreak may be the very essence of being human, of being on the journey from here to there, and of coming to care deeply for what we find along the way.
– David Whyte, Consolations

The poem is a revenge on loss, which has been forced to yield to a new form, a thing that hadn’t existed in the world before.
– Louise Glück

I believe that words can help us move or keep us paralyzed, and that our choices of language and verbal tone have something—a great deal—to do with how we live our lives.
– Adrienne Rich

If we so barely know ourselves, how can we know the other? Yet the almost supernatural power of the projection is fascinating.
– James Hollis

In an age of exponential change, we need the power of diverse thinking, and we cannot afford to leave any talent untapped.
– Cathy Engelbert

He wants in, he wants out, he wants the antidote.
He stands in front of the mirror with a net,
hoping to catch something.
– @sikenpoems

People who love literature have at least part of their minds immune from indoctrination. If you read, you can learn to think for yourself.
– Doris Lessing

literature will lose, sunlight will win, don’t worry
– Franz Wright

I like elk trails because they lead you nowhere but they go everywhere
– Nicholas Pierotti

Spiritual materialism is rampant and a life filled with spirit is a rarity. I don’t care how many crystals you have, how vegan your food is, or whether your Venus is in Jupiter since the last time you blamed your problems on the moon. If the way we carry and express ourselves condemns others while lifting ourselves, then we’re as off target as the people we’re condemning. I drink with the thinkers and smoke with the preachers and I’ve never met a good man that believed he has the answers. Let your personality be your greatest work of art, and let your actions weave a thread of unity. Laugh at the voice(s) in your head, befriend your ego before you listen to that bullshit that tells you to destroy it. That’s McDonalds spirituality – even attempting to get rid of ego means you want to avoid this and move towards that – creating more of the same inner conflict you’re trying to avoid. Inner silence and enviable peace doesn’t come from the avoidance of life as it is, it comes from moving as deeply into life as you can. The only way out is in, and the only way beyond is through.
– Bryan Elli

How privileged you are, to be
clinging to what you love;
the forfeit of hope has not destroyed you.
– Louise Glück, October

Trauma sends you
letters, without warning,
for the rest of your life,
usually disguised as
something else.
– Brenna Twohy

Only the mind cannot be sent into exile.
– Ovid

One can fight evil but against stupidity one is helpless… I have accepted the fact, hard as it may be, that human beings are inclined to behave in ways that would make animals blush. The ironic, the tragic thing is that we often behave in ignoble fashion from what we consider the highest motives. The animal makes no excuse for killing his prey; the human animal, on the other hand, can invoke God’s blessing when massacring his fellow men. He forgets that God is not on his side but at it
– Henry Miller

Taxing 700 people to help everyone else and guard the planet is good economics and good politics.
– @AnandWrites

I need one of those long hugs where you kinda forget whatever else is happening around you for minute.
– Marilyn Monroe

I really love the point Gwendolyn Brooks was making when she said, “I don’t like to think of myself as a poet. I think of myself as the commonest kind of human being there can be––who likes to write poetry…Living is the most important thing to do, and poetry comes after that.”
– @tamaranopper

Inaccessibility is not neutral.
Inaccessibility is not just doing nothing.
Inaccessibility is exclusion of disabled people.
Exclusion is isolation.
Exclusion is segregation.
Exclusion is discrimination.
Exclusion is trauma.
Exclusion is harm.
– @GHMansfield

I drew an imaginary, figurative line between two cities, Budapest and Bucharest. All cities above that line qualify as what seem to me ‘great cities,’ and all below that line could be very interesting but not in the same class.
– Jan Morris

There are times when explanations, no matter how reasonable, just don’t seem to help.
– Fred Rogers

Indians are so good at math, we realized that capitalism is bullshit millennia ago and have shared and cared for the land since then.
– Joseph M. Pierce

Taxing 700 people to help everyone else and guard the planet is good economics and good politics.
– @AnandWrites

I need one of those long hugs where you kinda forget whatever else is happening around you for minute.
– Marilyn Monroe

I really love the point Gwendolyn Brooks was making when she said, I don’t like to think of myself as a poet. I think of myself as the commonest kind of human being there can be––who likes to write poetry…Living is the most important thing to do, and poetry comes after that.
– @tamaranopper

Inaccessibility is not neutral.
Inaccessibility is not just doing nothing.
Inaccessibility is exclusion of disabled people.
Exclusion is isolation.
Exclusion is segregation.
Exclusion is discrimination.
Exclusion is trauma.
Exclusion is harm.
– @GHMansfield

I drew an imaginary, figurative line between two cities, Budapest and Bucharest. All cities above that line qualify as what seem to me ‘great cities,’ and all below that line could be very interesting but not in the same class.
– Jan Morris

There are times when explanations, no matter how reasonable, just don’t seem to help.
– Fred Rogers

Indians are so good at math, we realized that capitalism is bullshit millennia ago and have shared and cared for the land since then.
– Joseph M. Pierce

The irony for mankind is that a computer program asks a human to prove that they are not a robot.
– Craig Eppler

The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.
– J.D. Salinger

If suffering alone teaches,
then all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers.
To suffering one must add understanding,
compassion, patience, love, openness,
and the willingness to remain vulnerable.
– Anne Morrow Lindbergh

In contrast to physical action, cognitive reflection is relaxingly connective, like gravity. Reflection unites what action has sundered. This desire to understand slows and expands into widening fields of comprehension, while the active tendency distinguishes the self as a unique center of self-interest and influence. Action and reflection are extroversion and introversion, yet we need to understand these in terms of how they work together to form the polarized Janus face of sentient processes alternating from physical output to metaphysical input – while semi-consciously coordinating which is dominant in one’s current drama.

Like ourselves, the rest of the living have more than a passing acquaintance with these secret doors through which experience flows from psy-space into physical space and back again (as when when learning a new recipe, or telling a story). Which means that most experiences occur in both physical spaces and psychological spaces at the same time. In the focal dimensions of physical space the emphasis is on particular instances and individual differences. These are the things that can stand out from a background, as when sensory organs sense important differences, as Gregory Bateson noted. So sense-actional physical space is how the nature of experience differentiates itself, moment by moment, particle by particle, while cognitive psy-space, on the other hand, is how the living coordinate themselves, pattern by pattern, and mind by mind.

We don’t perceive these more enduring structures of mind in the ways we perceive physical events, since they constitute longer-term psy-structures of experiential coherence. While more easily recognizable abstractions exist at the high focus end of thoughts, the background fields of enduring comprehensions involve assumptions we cannot so easily recognize or articulate, because they form the conditions of thought, language, intention and understanding – what dreams, ideals, visions and myths are about. The more comprehensive we go, the more significant, pervasive and potentially influential is the sense of comprehension or commitment that is accessed. Such long wave convictions rooted in enduring gut feelings resolutely hang on to what matters the most to oneself, as these also become the source of creatively transformative experiences. Such motivations, sometimes hard to articulate, are the source of what sustained power we have to dramatically influence our lives and our worlds.

– George Gorman

If there were no external means
of dulling their sensibilities,
half of mankind would shoot themselves
without delay,
for to live in opposition to one’s reason
is the most intolerable condition. 
And that is the condition of all men
of the present day.
All men of the modern world exist
in a state of continual
and flagrant antagonism
between their conscience
and their way of life.

– Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is Within You

The Embrace of Valley Spirit Woman

I had been ‘out-beyond’ —
out beyond the breathless constriction
of the Sharp-Edged World.

The morning had been spent reading
poems by the “Japanese Druid”, Bashō.

His instructions
attune the heart-mind
to pay attention
in the best of ways;
to the spirit of place
to that which is stuck, stored, or moving within one’s own body
to what the ancestors are saying
to what is being said by the Spirit of the Times.

‘Follow the Creative. Return to the Creative,’ he says.

When you leave the Sharp-Edged World behind,
you leave the Sharp-Edged Times behind.

With tendons in my legs
aching for the hills,
I complied.
I slithered like a Welsh dragon
through deep ravines and high hills.
I became so aligned with the numen of the trees
even the herds of deer
merely gave me a glance
as I sauntered through them.

Beside the River of Painted Rocks,
an abandoned stone croft reminded me of Scotland.
An old bamboo forest
reminded me of Bashō and Japan.
I offered tobacco to the spirits
who walked this land
and walk it still.
I sat enveloped in the kind of silence
that heals the soul of long-held burdens.

A reverie began.
Quicksilver imagery.
Eyes in sockets.
Sockeye salmon.
Seed in a beak.
Knife in a sheath.
Ghilles for feet.
Wood beam for a roof.
Flagstone for a hearth.
Moonlight rippling on the surface of moving water.

Then, a woven strand of words
dripped down through sunlit branches.

Everything is being held.
Everything eventually finds its place.
It’s how lost souls come to remember their face.
Air held within lungs.
A vision of years guiding us along.
Sacred words
uttered, sung, writ —
all for the one
who most needs to hear it.
Any day
can be a Threshold Day
if approached in the proper way…
…but you have to surrender your armor
to receive the embrace
of Valley Spirit Woman.

– Frank LaRue Owen

I would like to remind everyone that the sun has come up every day for the last three billion years and will for the next, and in that sense it’s a very reliable energy source.
– Saul Griffith

But the man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser, but less cocksure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance, yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable Mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend.
– Aldous Huxley

There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love. […] In the beginning, [people] take the intensity of the infatuation, this being “crazy” about each other, for proof of the intensity of their love, while it may only prove the degree of their preceding loneliness.
– Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving (via exhaled-spirals)

I have come to realise it doesn’t make much sense to ponder the meaning of life; that it is a question induced by melancholy; that an answer is not really what we are looking for. Does it not disappear the minute we find joy again? Who, when finally seized by a great desire to love, to dance, to work, still wonders: what is the meaning of life?
– Belinda Cannone, Petit éloge de l’embrassement

How to Apologize
Cook a large fish—choose one with many bones, a skeleton
you will need skill to expose, maybe the flying
silver carp that’s invaded the Great Lakes, tumbling
the others into oblivion. If you don’t live
near a lake, you’ll have to travel.
Walking is best and shows you mean it,
but you could take a train and let yourself
be soothed by the rocking
on the rails. It’s permitted
to receive solace for whatever you did
or didn’t do, pitiful, beautiful
human. When my mother was in the hospital,
my daughter and I had to clear out the home
she wouldn’t return to. Then she recovered
and asked, incredulous,
How could you have thrown out all my shoes?
So you’ll need a boat. You could rent or buy,
but, for the sake of repairing the world,
build your own. Thin strips
of Western red cedar are perfect,
but don’t cut a tree. There’ll be
a demolished barn or downed trunk
if you venture further.
And someone will have a mill.
And someone will loan you tools.
The perfume of sawdust and the curls
that fall from your plane
will sweeten the hours. Each night
we dream thirty-six billion dreams. In one night
we could dream back everything lost.
So grill the pale flesh.
Unharness yourself from your weary stories.
Then carry the oily, succulent fish to the one you hurt.
There is much to fear as a creature
caught in time, but this
is safe. You need no defense. This
is just another way to know
you are alive.
– Ellen Bass

Sometimes it takes a storm
for the sea to do the wave.
I know it took a storm
for the message in the bottle
to finally reach my shore.
– Andrea Gibson

I know most people
try hard to do good
and find out too late
they should have tried softer.
– Andrea Gibson

Some of my favorite poems are prayers worth repeating:
May we raise children
who love the unloved
things – the dandelion, the
worms & spiderlings.
Children who sense
the rose needs the thorn
& run into rainswept days
the same way they
turn towards sun…
And when they’re grown &
someone has to speak for those
who have no voice
may they draw upon that
wilder bond, those days of
tending tender things
and be the ones.
– Nicolette Sowder

The warrior’s cry is: “We are needed.” We make this journey for the sake of ourselves, our loved ones, our enemies, and everybody else. Since we all share the same planet, it’s crazy to continue acting in ways that will destroy it.

May we all learn that pain is not the end of the journey, and neither is delight. We can hold them both – indeed hold it all – at the same time, remembering that everything in these quixotic, unpredictable, unsettled and unsettling, exhilarating and heart-stirring times is a doorway to awakening in sacred world.

– Pema Chodron

Bourbon with Petrarch
by Wendy Battin

If you can taste the oak in aging love,
then no betrayal overcomes the taste
of smoke on the lips and fire in the throat.
You drank some drug that no blood test can trace.

Love asks every thing, but will take nothing
for an answer. How you savored feta,
olive oil, oregano. Your wit rang
a blue note in sullen America.

And if you’re gone, I’m not. The love goes on.
It has its own life, eating through the heart,
and heart eats all the world, the sight, the sound,

the scent you left, that I might track you by,
the road we staggered drunkenly to art.
Open your hand. Let you fly, let me fly.

Poem from The Canzoniere
by Petrarch

Breeze, blowing that blonde curling hair,
stirring it, and being softly stirred in turn,
scattering that sweet gold about, then
gathering it, in a lovely knot of curls again,

you linger around bright eyes whose loving sting
pierces me so, till I feel it and weep,
and I wander searching for my treasure,
like a creature that often shies and kicks:

now I seem to find her, now I realise
she’s far away, now I’m comforted, now despair,
now longing for her, now truly seeing her.

Happy air, remain here with your
living rays: and you, clear running stream,
why can’t I exchange my path for yours?

So I say: Mind, don’t you sleep
by Ramprasad (Ramprasad Sen)

English version by Leonard Nathan and Clinton Seely

So I say: Mind, don’t you sleep
Or Time is going to get in and steal from you.

You hold on to the sword of Kali’s name.
The shield of Tara’s name.

Can Death overwhelm you?
Sound Kali’s name on a horn and sound it loud.

Chant “Durga, Durga,”
Until you bring the dawn around.

If She won’t save you in this Dark Age –.
But how many great sinners have been saved!

Is Ramprasad then
So unsalvageable a rogue?

Come to that confrontation
with yourself on all sides.
Come unarmed.
The secret: Embrace everything you find.
– Ivan M. Granger

the passenger pigeon returns
on a cancelled stamp
– Scott Mason

small-town diner
the young widow
opens her mail
– Michael Dylan Welch

But if not, I want
to remind you
]and beautiful times we had.
– @sapphobot

I, Too
John Ashbery

Happy thoughts weren’t made to last,
but it is their compactness that eludes us.

The built-in obsolescence of every nanny, every pram,
is a force from God that issues from us.

How could we not like it, watching it emanate
like a breath of witch hazel
or a grayish-purple shroud?

Something has got to be done to the way we feel
before we get completely numb, like a colossus
floundering in its own wake.

See these hands?
Really we must make it up to them
or they’ll take credit for everything we’ve accomplished
which they will anyway.

And what’s-his-face can sit on his porch burping
uninterruptedly – propriety isn’t hardy in this zone,
but that’s not his problem. In fact
he doesn’t have a problem. We, who see
around corners, into strongboxes, must wear
the guilt of our glancing. It’s another appurtenance,
like a birdhouse or dishwasher, that we came to terms with
eons ago, when a tsunami of slime collided
with our pink stucco skyscraper. We know so much we’ve
kept it all in. That may be changing.

If a poem is concentrated, a closed fist, then a novel is relaxed and expansive, an open hand: it has roads, detours, destinations; a heart line, a head line; morals and money come into it.
– Sylvia Plath

salmon run—
the bridge clogged
with people
– Tanya McDonald

How long are you going to wait before you demand the best of yourself?
– Epictetus

Good fiction is partly a bringing of the news from one world to another.
– Raymond Carver

one egg
rattling in the pot
autumn rain
– Sandra Simpson

the fruit bowl
overflowing with oranges
first snow
– Daniel Py

alpine lake
a tiny fish
shatters my face
– Ernest J. Berry

All these amazing people who have turned away opportunities (massive ones and not so massive ones) in favor of well-being have really opened a valuable door for us. We don’t have to say yes to everything.
– @LauraHopeGill

Beyond *things*/the thingified, what can we give each other that’s convincingly/sustainably meaningful? How do we measure/assess that thing? How do we accept it, once given? Can we take it back? How do we practice appreciating it? For how long?
– Robert Doisneau

The puppy trainer told me that chewing releases a chemical that makes dogs feel stoned. Ergo, puppies aren’t just chewers, they are stoners!
– @atsignemdash

We are always trying to build a bridge between ‘what is’ and ‘what should be’. And in that there is contradiction and conflict.
– Jiddu Krishnamurti

My superpower is reading between the lines on a message even when it has no lines at all

Did I say superpower? I meant curse

You could send me four words, and two of them could be “that” and “the,” and I’d still wonder if I should bake you a cake to apologize for making you mad

– @Audrey_Burges

These people want to feed the poor and provide healthcare to everyone. When do I get to kill them? asked the Christian.
– @WardQNormal

Poetry, I feel, is a tyrannical discipline. You’ve got to go so far so fast in such a small space; you’ve got to burn away all the peripherals.
– Sylvia Plath

Ableism hurts at a level I can’t describe, deep inside the flesh.

It’s the rejection and exclusion of our whole being.

It’s scaring us in our conscience, poisoning us.

It’s made to make us feel like we don’t belong, and who we are will never be enough or accepted.

– @PaulineCastres

Three words: tax the wealthy.
– @SenSanders

Music and truth, the qualities of all great writers, are what convinces us to read him, to believe him.
– Gillian Clarke

Don’t mistake movement for meaning.
– Lama Surya Das

Poetic Justice
On the day of the darkening
sun, a great voice shall
rise within you,
crying out:
Put down your weapons
and take up the battle
to satisfy your untended soul!
Oh god. Oh goddess.
It’s time to come to terms
with the terribly honest thing
to which you are willing
to sacrifice yourself.
It will be a never before
seen thing because
you have been avoiding
it all your life.
I’ll be dangerous,
and beautiful,
alluring and
Tread carefully,
because dependable things
are about to fall apart.
Be mind full.
The words you are about
to unleash are enlivened
and will resist your
efforts to tame them.
Listen up!
The great questions
are the force to be
reckoned with:
Whose child are you?
What have you born into this world?
What have you broken?
Who have you held in their brokenness?
What have you given permission to?
Who have you liberated?
Who knows you as a great lover?
Why do you love?
That one is worth repeating:
Why do you love?
Answer truthfully.
Divest from ignorance!
Divest from arrogance!
You are not entitled
to any word other
than human.
To say the truth is strange,
is to admit that you are strangers.
To say the truth is cruel,
is to say that liberation is cruel.
You know what is right.
Do it!
That is being your best.
That is the only way.
Why else would this world
have invited you to be here?
As long as you are in good spirits,
you can trust in justice.
It is righteousness.
It is equity.
At its roots, by definition,
it is the sacred way.
Justice is the sacred way.
Why else would the poets
narrate such a seemingly
treacherous path?
So, yes, with these words
I pray that there may
soon come a day that,
by some twist of fate,
you find yourself knee-deep
in ash, praising the forces
of destruction.
That’ll be the day
you finally know that
you’ve been blessed.
There will be nothing
left to do, other than
to gather up the good
people and take them
with you.
– Jamie K. Reaser

Your struggle with finding god
is that you’ve made Her so special, unique,
particular, esoteric
and elite.
You’ve made Her better than you
and tried to lie about your shortcomings,
tried to be better than your concocted “others”,
that you might win
Her attention
and please Her highness.
Dear, you need no altitude sickness
to approach God
mostly, She’s found in the holy collapse
into truth
that is whispered to you
through closeness with things.
This life is no sibling rivalry
between you and Her children
to whom She’s never given any preference.
You’ve branded Her,
capitalized Her,
trademarked Her
and She is the great destroyer
of roles.
She is what gestates the wild life
within you
to break through any hard seed
you’ve claimed
as a self.
She breaks you into the beyond.
Stop attaching small ropes of your ideas to Her
that keep your heart small.
She has reposed into every atom,
She is the realization waiting to blossom through every misdeed
that Her smile too, has been coiled
in the nucleus
of every sin
and recognizing this somehow puts everything right.
She lives is abundance
in the hearts of the poor
and has given Her whole heart
as asylum to refugees.
Her song sings through the veins
of addicts
with extra potency,
She is the blanket
keeping those warm
who live in the dark.
She loves being called, “Allah, Allah, Allah!”
or Yahweh
or whatever other nickname you might have for Her.

She loves when prayer dances to summon Her
and She’s insured mischievous behavior
is a part of this life.
She scoops the lowest lows
into the holiest embrace
She is whatever feels most
unremote in your heart.
Darling, when this world
and your heart
fill up with Her love, acceptance and compassion
for all that is
it pours over to become heaven–
that’s the only goal.
You are the fish
in Her water
you’ve already been completely flooded
you just haven’t come
to recognize that
just yet.
– Chelan Harkin

There is in every person an inward sea, and in that sea there is an island an on that island there is an altar and standing guard before that altar is “angel with the flaming sword.

Nothing can get by that angel to be placed upon that altar unless it has the mark of your inner authority…
This is your crucial link with the Eternal.

– Howard Thurman, The Inward Sea

Passion does not need to be expressed in a showy way. When it’s genuine, people can feel it.
– Susan Cain

It is our task, both in science and in society at large, to prove the conventional wisdom wrong and to make our unpredictable dreams come true
– Freeman Dyson

Whenever I saw her, I felt like I had been living in another country, doing moderately well in another language, and then she showed up speaking English and suddenly I could speak with all the complexity and nuance that I hadn’t realized was gone. With [her] I was a native speaker.
– Ann Patchett, Truth and Beauty

First there is a mountain
Then there is no mountain
Then there is
– Donovan

This is how I witness a person’s process when I work with them – flowing like the lyrics of this song.

First there is a depression, a relationship problem, a chronic illness, anxiety, self-hatred, loneliness…

And then we go into the depth of their experience. The mountain disappears and depression becomes weight and sinking into the Earth, relationship problems become fists of power, chronic illness becomes compassion and a new sensitivity to the world, loneliness becomes a connection with everything, and self-hatred becomes a complete annihilation until ego no longer exists.

The mountain disappears and powerful medicine appears, pointing the way to one’s true path.

And then an ease happens, the system is no longer in resistance, in the need to fix or heal, in the shame and suffering that accompanies the search for a resolution.

In that ease, that lack of shame and urgency, the person becomes familiar with the allies that move their life, disturbing their status quo, and they say “Oh, that’s my depression,” or “Yes, that’s my anxiety.”

The mountain rises up again but it is not the same mountain it was at first.

No, it is a mountain that has been meditated upon, seen for its moving medicine magic, for its vast powers and untold beauty.

“First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.” I CALL THAT GRACE.

– David Bedrick

This is my living faith, an active faith,
a faith of verbs: to question, explore,
experiment, experience, walk, run, dance,
play, eat, love, learn, dare, taste, touch,
smell, listen, speak, write, read, draw,
provoke, emote, scream, sin, repent, cry,
kneel, pray, bow, rise, stand, look, laugh,
cajole, create, confront, confound,
walk back, walk forward, circle,
hide, and seek.

– Terry Tempest Williams, Leap

Coagulation of the Directions

For years, a knotted skein.
Different threads,
each pulling
in its own direction.

At times, it felt akin to traveling
to different provinces,
or living in the encampments
of very different tribes.


True that it can mean
a tangled, complicated arrangement…
and there is always the risk
of remaining coiled-up with one’s
smaller vision of oneself.

on a bright autumn day
it can also
all come together.

The skein finally unfurls,
the knots get loosened out,
the essential force of you
becomes a V-shaped flock of geese
moving toward the true weave of you.

This is when the many worlds
you have inhabited
start to become one.

Hexagram 64 – Before Completion.

The Scots story of the wise fox
not trusting his tail to the ice
after Brighid’s Day.

Luo Hongxian the Cartographer
walking barefoot through the amethyst forest,
making inner and outer maps.

When you come to embody the way
that is the Way of you,
your Way and the Way of Heaven
are in true accord.

And that, fellow traveler,
is felt within your own bloodstream.
(c) 2021 / Hawk of the Pines (Frank LaRue Owen)

Pastor John Pavlovitz:

I’m tired of waking every morning and seeing that we’re in an another unnecessary and preventable Constitutional crisis.
I’m tired of having to once again channel the adrenaline to confront a new onslaught of real and manufactured emergencies.
I’m tired of having to desperately appeal to public servants to do the decent and humane thing and seeing them again flatly refuse.
I’m tired of trying to convince professed followers of Jesus that they’re supposed to care about other people.

Sudden energy shortages, global supply chain problems, empty shelves at grocery stores, internet breakdowns, climate change, Covid 19, and depleting natural resources are straining our economic systems, built on unbridled competition.

Effective climate action demands nothing less than paradigm shifts in thinking and living.

This presentation focuses on what Buddhism offers towards a shift to a sustainable living. It will be based on early Buddhist teachings and practices concerning the ethics of wealth.

The Buddha challenged the generation of wealth, based on greed, corrupt living and exploitation.

He acted decisively against corruption within religious institutions of his time, particularly within his own Sangha. He outlined clear rules and principles, dealing with the ownership of wealth among the Sangha.

But the Buddha also saw wealth as an opportunity for equity, justice and compassion — benefitting the giver, the recipient and the environment.
– Don De Silva, Talking About The Tariki Trust Ecotherapy Presentation

Politics, conceived as an activity, involves rational discourse, public empowerment, the exercise of practical reason, and its realization in a shared, indeed participatory, activity.
– Murray Bookchin, From Urbanization to Cities: The Politics of Democratic Municipalism

Ecology movements, futurism, feminism, urbanism, protest and disarmament, personal individuation cannot alone save the world from the catastrophe inherent in our very idea of the world. They require a cosmological vision that saves the phenomenon ‘world’ itself, a move in soul that goes beyond measures of expediency to the archetypal source of our world’s continuing peril: the fateful neglect, the repression, of the anima mundi.
– James Hillman

I have always hated the rain,
And the gloom of grayed skies.
But now I think I must always cherish
Rain-hung leaf and the misty river;
And the friendly screen of dripping green
Where eager kisses were shyly given
And your pipe-smoke made clouds in our damp, close heaven.
The curious laggard passed us by,
His wet shoes soughed on the shining walk.
And that afternoon was filled with a blurred glory—
That afternoon, when we first talked as lovers.
– Jean Starr Untermeyer

I’ve been meditating on the word “healing” lately, concerned with the way it is used – too often pathologizing people, leaving them thinking they are broken or needing fixing.

I came across this post I wrote some years ago; I was moved to edit it and share it here:

I carry the wounds to psyche (psyche means soul) in my heart.
I feel them in my body.
They sit beside me in deep meditations and manifest in my relationships.
I feel their company when I am alone walking by the ocean.

In my twenties I hoped the right relationship and career would make them go away.

In my 30’s, it was meditation, acupuncture and therapy that focused my efforts on ridding myself of their pain and disruption.

In my 40’s, I became clearer about my purpose in the world. I studied the law and began practicing as an attorney, focusing more on social justice. I learned that “my wounds” did not only belong to me.

In my 50’s I learned to play, recovering some of the child-like freedom that also opened more creative doors. It eased the pain of my wounds, but morning after morning we still greeted each other; they hadn’t left.

Now, in my 60’s our friendship has grown. I know them as also me, not some pathology to be removed, or cut out like a tumor.

They teach me when to hold on and when to let go, and what the nature of my gifts are and how to walk with Spirit.

And most importantly, they always deepen my sense of what it means to love and be loved.

– David Bedrick

What I am trying to translate to you is more mysterious, it is entwined in the very roots of being, in the implacable source of sensations.
– Paul Cézanne

When you’re young you prefer the vulgar months, the fullness of the seasons. As you grow older you learn to like the in-between times, the months that can’t make up their minds. Perhaps it’s a way of admitting that things can’t ever bear the same certainty again.
– Julian Barnes, Flaubert’s Parrot

What is the source
of our first suffering?
It lies in the fact that we hesitated to speak.
It was born in the moments
when we accumulated silent things
within us.
– Gaston Bachelard, Water and Dreams

Two psychoanalytic terms which are well known to followers of Carl Jung but less to everybody else are Puer and Senex. Peur is the short form that James Hillman uses for Puer aeternus, which means ‘eternal boy’; sexex means something like ‘wise old man’. Both archetypes have generative and destructive aspects—and both are, according to Hillman, two sides of the same janus face.

The golden boy or puer archetype is a symbol of ‘eternal nowness’ or the living principle; the senex, conversely, represents the wisdom of age and experience. Furthermore, according to Hillman, Peur is related to ‘kairos’ or ‘timeless time’, whereas senex belongs to ‘chronos’ or the mortal, linear passage of time. Both are essential and complementary modes of our being. And if puer and senex archetypes are split, we are in deep trouble.

Indeed, many of the pathologies of our society today can be seen in light of this split. If one cannot keep the puer alive, then the senex becomes bitter, resentful, and cold—characterized by remoteness, tyranny, and senility. Conversely if the puer doesn’t evolve into wisdom, then he remains the petulant child, unable to endure life or develop real wisdom.

In a world that seems to be more and more run by senile old men (the negative senex) and where a majority of people in the so called ‘developed world’ are caught in an eternal adolescence (the negative puer), it might be worthwhile to meditate on this split, and ponder what we can do to re-unite the archetypes.
– Andrew Sweeny, Parallax

Smoky The Bear Sutra
Once in the Jurassic about 150 million years ago,
the Great Sun Buddha in this corner
of the Infinite Void gave a Discourse
to all the assembled elements and energies:
to the standing beings, the walking beings,
the flying beings, and the sitting beings —
even grasses,
to the number of thirteen billion,
each one born from a seed,
assembled there: a Discourse
concerning Enlightenment on the planet Earth.
“In some future time, there will be a continent
called America. It will have great centers
of power called such as Pyramid Lake,
Walden Pond, Mt. Rainier, Big Sur,
Everglades, and so forth;
and powerful nerves and channels
such as Columbia River, Mississippi River,
and Grand Canyon
The human race in that era
will get into troubles all over its head,
and practically wreck everything
in spite of its own strong intelligent Buddha-nature.”
“The twisting strata of the great mountains
and the pulsings of volcanoes
are my love burning deep in the earth.
My obstinate compassion is schist and basalt
and granite, to be mountains, to bring down the rain.
In that future American Era
I shall enter a new form;
to cure the world of loveless knowledge
that seeks with blind hunger:
and mindless rage eating food that will not fill it.”
And he showed himself in his true form of
A handsome smokey-colored brown bear
standing on his hind legs, showing
that he is aroused and watchful.
Bearing in his right paw the Shovel
that digs to the truth beneath appearances;
cuts the roots of useless attachments,
and flings damp sand on the fires of greed and war;
His left paw in the Mudra of Comradely Display — indicating that all creatures have the full right
to live to their limits and that deer,
rabbits, chipmunks, snakes, dandelions,
and lizards all grow in the realm of the Dharma;
Wearing the blue work overalls symbolic
of slaves and laborers, the countless men oppressed by a civilization that claims to save but often destroys;
Wearing the broad-brimmed hat of the West,
symbolic of the forces that guard the Wilderness, which is the Natural State of the Dharma
and the True Path of man on earth:
all true paths lead through mountains —
With a halo of smoke and flame behind,
the forest fires of the kali-yuga,
fires caused by the stupidity of those
who think things can be gained and lost
whereas in truth all is contained vast and free
in the Blue Sky and Green Earth of One Mind;
Round-bellied to show his kind nature
and that the great earth has food enough
for everyone who loves her and trusts her;
Trampling underfoot wasteful freeways
and needless suburbs; smashing the worms
of capitalism and totalitarianism;
Indicating the Task: his followers,
becoming free of cars, houses, canned foods, universities, and shoes; master the Three Mysteries
of their own Body, Speech, and Mind;
and fearlessly chop down the rotten trees
and prune out the sick limbs of this country America and then burn the leftover trash.
Wrathful but Calm. Austere but Comic.
Smokey the Bear will Illuminate those
who would help him;
but for those who would hinder or slander him,
Thus his great Mantra:
Namah samanta vajranam chanda maharoshana
Sphataya hum traka ham nam
And he will protect those who love woods and rivers,
Gods and animals, hobos and madmen,
prisoners and sick people, musicians,
playful women, and hopeful children:
And if anyone is threatened by advertising,
air pollution, television, or the police,
they should chant SMOKEY THE BEAR’S WAR SPELL:
And SMOKEY THE BEAR will surely appear
to put the enemy out
with his vajra-shovel.
Now those who recite this Sutra
and then try to put it in practice will accumulate merit as countless as the sands of Arizona and Nevada.
Will help save the planet Earth from total oil slick.
Will enter the age of harmony of man and nature.
Will win the tender love and caresses
of men, women, and beasts.
Will always have ripe blackberries to eat
and a sunny spot under a pine tree to sit at.
thus have we heard.
(may be reproduced free forever)
– Gary Snyder

The sword is emptiness…
– Takuan Sōhō

Ideas are worth nothing unless backed by application. The smallest of implementations is always worth more than the grandest of intentions.
– Robin Sharma, The 5AM Club

What the future holds for us
depends on what we hold for the future.
– William E. Holler

For What Binds Us

There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they’ve been set down—
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.

And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
more strong
than the simple, untested surface before.
There’s a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,

as all flesh,
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest—

And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.

our galactic supercluster,
is like a feather in the larger Universe,
Our galaxy like a neuron in our supercluster,
Our sun like an atom in our galaxy,
Mother earth like an electron
spinning around the sun.
Even your own consciousness
emulates these creative patterns,
mirrors these structures,
expressing the Universal miracle
that we are..
– Ecological Consciousness

Our Passions

As the strangest oscillators,
our passions reshape
the done deals of matter
catch an uptick, then bow 
and turn away from it all.

Please teach me this one thing, 
grace of songs and slingshots,
sweet lamps of life 
that light up with meaning:

Teach me the art of the wave, 
more courtship than treaty,
the gestures between 
the feathers of here 
and then gone.

– George Gorman

I swear to you that to think too much is a disease, a real, actual disease.
– Fyodor Dostoevsky

I may be the wrong person for my life.
– Thomas McGuane

I have a friend who speaks of knowledge as an island in a sea of mystery. . . . We dredge up soil from the bed of mystery and build ourselves room to grow. And still the mystery surrounds us. It laps at our shores. It permeates the land. Scratch the surface of knowledge and mystery bubbles up like a spring.
– Chet Raymo

If you see your nature, you don’t need to read sutras or invoke buddhas. Erudition and knowledge are not only useless but also cloud your awareness. Doctrines are only for pointing to the mind. Once you see your mind, why pay attention to doctrines?
– Bodhidharma

Be Careful Not Fearful

A simple but important distinction to make: be careful not fearful. Be full of care, not full of fear.

It’s so easy when approaching these issues to get lost in the worst-case scenarios. It’s so easy to become lost in our own fears and never notice that this directs all of our attention onto ourselves.

Being fearful is a place of self-concern. It’s not a place that allows for concern of others. It’s not a place that even, really, allows for an awareness of the needs of others.

When we are fearful we become hyper-vigilant about how we might not get what we want and how we might lose what we already have.

When we can shift our attention towards being full of care for others, we’re more likely to make decisions that genuinely help people.

We can ask the question, “Who am I to teach?” fearfully. When we do, it becomes a way to avoid wrestling honestly with these issues. We can ask the same question carefully. When we do, it becomes a doorway to an even deeper sense of integrity and alignment with our political and spiritual values as we live in the modern world.

Be careful not fearful.

– Tad Hargrave

What if
we don’t have
to be healed
to be whole?
– @andreagibson

Offer them what they secretly want
and they of course immediately become
– Jack Kerouac

Democracy is everything. We can’t save the living planet without it.
– Greta Thunberg (Nov. 9, 2021)

In short, our gentleman became so immersed in his reading that he spent whole nights from sundown to sunup and his days from dawn to dusk in poring over his books, until, finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.
– Miquel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, Part I (1605)

Captive Light

Light does not lack
a capacity for violence
anyone who has walked through a city knows that

the sun was never so intrusive
even burning my ruddy skin

overindulgent, perhaps, but
the sun’s touch is always intimate
the sun always knows how to touch you
and some pain is worth being earned
anyone who’s been on a good honeymoon
knows that

Those electric lights, though,
stalking darkness through the night
strangling loose pupils to pop
with sudden explosions
of metallic, harsh whites

Navigating bright traps, straining
to see the guidance provided by stars,
I forgive the lights.

It’s the city that makes them so mad
and if not exactly mad,
maybe electric lights are
just like the rest of us in the city: scrambling to get away

– Will Falk

Transformation is about enlargement, and enlargement generally comes only from suffering. Stop and reflect on growth experiences. Invariably they arise out of conflict and loss, for consciousness only comes from the tension of opposites.
– James Hollis

In mythos and fairy tales, deities and other great spirits
test the hearts of humans by showing up
in various forms that disguise their divinity.
They show up in robes, rags, silver sashes,
or with muddy feet. They show up with skin
dark as old wood, or in scales made of rose petal,
as a frail child, as a lime-yellow old woman,
as a man who cannot speak, or as an animal who can.
The great powers are testing to see if humans
have yet learned to recognize the greatness of soul
in all its varying forms.
– Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Alchemical Slingshot

It doesn’t happen in every instance
but I have seen it enough,
within and without,
to know its formidable current.

You make your progress,
or so you think,
and then,
always on a day you don’t expect,
you are drawn back into it.

Pulled back
pulled down
back into the old wounds
back into the grip of old angers
back into the swamp of old griefs
back into the stinging bruises
of old voices and their messages.

You may get frustrated with yourself.
You may even declare
into the thick, unmoving air,
“What a disappointment I am!”

Fellow Traveler,
O, Fellow Traveler,
don’t despair.
This is merely a switchback,
though I know it feels like
a “slide-back”.

This is reaching
a similar place on the spiral
but it’s higher and deeper
than the one before.

There is a simmering going on.
It has its purpose and role to play.
Crystalline clarity consciousness.
What feels like a disheartening whiplash
exists to serve as a purification.

This falling back
into the terrain
of old hurts and troubles
is preparing you for a quantum leap.

You may think to yourself
that you could never launch
from a place of such
battered exhaustion
but it’s precisely
this gradual wearing down
this gradual wearing away
that strips you of everything
that isn’t the true essence of you.

They polish rice down
to make a fine saké.
They sand wood down
until its burnished amber gleam
is revealed.
Sap boiled down
becomes a sweet syrup.
Fire, water, hammering steel
makes unbreakable swords.
The churning cycles
of surf-born rhythmic irritation
is what makes the pearl.

You and I
are the same.

Stay with it.
It leads somewhere.
Rest and draw healing from Nature,
which includes your own breathing.
Put your seat belt on.
The world is doing this, too.

Remember to laugh
while other parts of you are dying.
Whatever remains is your true path.

This is what the masters meant
by the turn of phrase:
‘Turning lead into gold’.

– Hawk of the Pines, Frank LaRue Owen

Captive Light

Light does not lack
a capacity for violence
anyone who has walked through a city knows that

the sun was never so intrusive
even burning my ruddy skin

overindulgent, perhaps, but
the sun’s touch is always intimate
the sun always knows how to touch you
and some pain is worth being earned
anyone who’s been on a good honeymoon
knows that

Those electric lights, though,
stalking darkness through the night
strangling loose pupils to pop
with sudden explosions
of metallic, harsh whites

Navigating bright traps, straining
to see the guidance provided by stars,
I forgive the lights.

It’s the city that makes them so mad
and if not exactly mad,
maybe electric lights are
just like the rest of us in the city: scrambling to get away

– Will Falk

Transformation is about enlargement, and enlargement generally comes only from suffering. Stop and reflect on growth experiences. Invariably they arise out of conflict and loss, for consciousness only comes from the tension of opposites.
– James Hollis

May your marketing strategy
be to become supremely ambitious
about sharing your joy.

May your advertising campaign
be gratitude
for exactly what you have.

May you climb the ladder
of becoming
exactly who you’ve always been.

May your success
be finding more nectar
at the heart of this moment.

May your networking
be blowing kisses
to all of those enjoying more success
than you
and wishing them wellbeing in all things

May your competition soften
as you let yourself be nourished
by the shared light
found there.

May your target audience
be any heart

And your shrewd strategy be
to uplift anything
that comes near.

May any name you acquire
be made of great thanks
for all in life that has whittled
an opening in you
for Beauty to breathe through.

– Chelan Harkin

Only prayer can mitigate human evil. Policy is futile. Except in every other advanced democracy, where it works.
– Pamela Cuce

Do you identify as a reservation, urban, or suburban Indian? How about interplanetary, interdimensional, pantemporal, or Intergalactic Indian?
– Tiffany Midge

I cling to the world made by the artists
because the other is full of horror,
and I can see no remedy for it.
– Anais Nin diaries 1931-1936

You would stand in the room so still
sometimes, so wordless sometimes,
as if the greatest betrayal of yourself
would be to reveal one more inch
of your character.
– The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje

What is needed now, more than ever,
is leadership that steers us away
from fear and fosters greater confidence
in the inherent goodness and ingenuity of humanity.

I have spoken out the best I could
about the abuse of religious scriptures
to promote various forms of violence,
including the death penalty, discrimination
and abuse of women, and unjust resort to warfare.
in the inherent goodness and ingenuity of humanity.

These are direct violations of my own faith
and other great religions, which are founded on love, kindness to strangers, not judging others, justice,
and resolving disputes in the least violent manner.
in the inherent goodness and ingenuity of humanity.

– Jimmy Carter

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Master said, “After this manner therefore pray ye,” and then he gave that prayer which covers all human needs. . . . Here let me give what I understand to be the spiritual sense of the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father which art in heaven,
Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious,

Hallowed be Thy name.
Adorable One.

Thy kingdom come.
Thy kingdom is come; Thou art ever-present.

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Enable us to know, — as in heaven, so on earth, —
God is omnipotent, supreme.

Give us this day our daily bread;
Give us grace for to-day; feed the famished affections;

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And Love is reflected in love;

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil;
And God leadeth us not into temptation, but delivereth
us from sin, disease, and death.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
For God is infinite, all-power, all Life, Truth, Love,
over all, and All.

– Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures

The Buddha said peace is the greatest happiness. We might call it a quiet joy, and that quiet joy can be underneath all the waves, because there will be waves—the ups and downs, times of exuberance and times when we’re feeling low.
– Joseph Goldstein

When we act, we act-with-the-world. We act-with-community. We act-with-legacies-we-don’t-even-know. We act-with-selves-that-haunt-our-independence. We act-with-others-because-we-are-hyphenated-bodies-that-are-often-difficult-to-decipher.
– Bayo Akomolafe

Get Therapy

The Naraya Preservation Council states:

Stepping into your power is not the hardest thing. The hardest thing is to step in and remain grounded, humble, and generous. Much of mundane training would have us believe we are inferior. If you begin a dedicated dance with Spirit you will start to see and feel your own power. It comes in brief slices in the beginning. Like shafts of light beaming down into the shady forest. We get a glimpse of who we are and what it feels like to be powerful. If we continue our dance with dedication, a glimpse becomes a knowing. Along the path come opportunities to heal. In a perfect world, our awareness would grow equally as our healing grows. But that is not always the case. It is possible to be powerful and broken. And that is a challenging combination. Don’t rush to power. Rush to healing. Rush to love. Rush to generosity. And a humble power capable of transforming the world will follow.

If you are planning to teach people something about life, then working out your own issues matters greatly.

Perhaps it’s traditional therapy that will help you in your growth and deepening. Perhaps it’s not. Maybe it’s a registered psychotherapist. Maybe it’s a men’s group you’re a part of. Maybe it’s a group therapy program.

What matters is that you are getting regular support from those who are further down the road than you. What matters is that you are being mentored, guided, and helped by those with skill in helping you see your own destructive and deceptive patterns. Find something that can help you see yourself more clearly.

I’ve known so many people who make their living by delving into people’s psyches who themselves seem to lack even a basic level of self-awareness. I’ve seen therapists with low integrity. I’ve seen healers with huge egos. I’ve seen gurus hitting on their young female followers. I’ve seen life coaches refusing to be questioned and turn concerns of their clients around with shame and blame saying things like, “Maybe it’s your control issues . . . ”

If you’re going to help others and yet you refuse to be helped, then perhaps you can’t be trusted.

– Tad Hargrave

In all your movements, let nothing be evident that would offend the eyes of another.
– St. Augustine

You have the blood of a poet. You have that and always will. You show, in the middle of savage things (that I like), the gentleness of your heart, that is so full of pain and light.
– Federico García Lorca

The men you are in these times deride

What has been done of good, you find explanations

To satisfy the rational and enlightened mind.

Second, you neglect and belittle the desert.

The desert is not remote in southern tropics,

The desert is not only around the corner,

The desert is squeezed in the tube-train next to you.

The desert is in the heart of your brother.

– T.S. Eliot, from The Rock

The pursuit of individual happiness has been acknowledged as a universal right. Yet the existing social conditions make the individual feel powerless. He lives in the contradiction between what he is and what he would like to be. Either he then becomes fully conscious of the contradiction and its causes, and so joins the political struggle for a full democracy which entails, amongst other things, the overthrow of capitalism; or else he lives, continually subject to an envy which, compounded with his sense of powerlessness, dissolves into recurrent day-dreams.
– John Berger

I don’t want to GET through this.
I want to love through this.
I want to grieve through this.
I want to laugh through this.
I want to scream through this.
I want to learn through this.
I want to open through this.
I want to grow through this.
– Andrea Gibson

From LIVING AN EXAMINED LIFE: Wisdom for the Second Half of the Journey by James Hollis, PhD
(An excerpt from Chapter 19-“Construct a Mature Spitituality)

What passes for popular religion in America, and many developed countries, is a rather pathetic encounter with the complexity of being human in an essentially unknowable universe.
The largest religious groupings show up in two forms. One branch infantilizes its flock by making them feel guilty, reminding them how they failed to measure up to impossible standards of moral perfection. This stratagem is infantilizing because it activates the parental imagoes inside the head of most of us. Once evoked, this parental imago threatens both punishment and the withdrawal of approval, either of which proves devastating to the child. That such material is so easily evoked is an indication of how ineffective much parenting is—that the child does not feel a sense of personal worth and trust in the other. Such a dual betrayal of the legitimate needs of every person is repeated in pathologizing these “adults.” They may walk around in big bodies, but inside is the terrified, invaded child. Shame on those who exploit this human vulnerability!

On the other hand, there are those slick, coifed types who tell people what they most want to hear: that you can have your wishes granted by right conduct, right thinking, right practice. While this hubristic, opportunistic quid pro quo was blasted to smithereens millennia ago by the wisdom of Ecclesiastes and Job, what sells better today than the wish fulfillment of modern materialism, hedonism, and narcissism? Why wouldn’t any of us want to get right with the Big Guy upstairs, who can shower largesse upon our small lives? This “theology” is disguised boosterism, sales pitching, and motivationalism, and it ratifies greed, narcissism, and the desire for a stroll on easy street. What double trauma will these people experience when the real world happens again, as it always does, to refute the easy sales motivation of these slick promoters, for whom the only excess is the bulging coffers of their private fortunes? Shame on those who exploit this human vulnerability!

To conquer hate, you have to find unshakeable tolerance.
– Robert A. F. Thurman

About the Balance: the Month We Were all Attending to It

Yes, if ever there were a time
for reading, it is now.

And when you are done
for moments or hours, when you go

back into the mindful carefulness of precautionary measures, let it be a meditation.

Even the ceremonial making
of my daily coffee takes longer

—I verify if spaces around the pot are clean, then the handwashing between

—Once I rinse the little pot and its accompanying machine, more than once,

it becomes meditative, to hear, to touch, to feel the water I pour in to rinse, then pour

that small river out, again pour in, pour out….then the glass carafe….finally plug it

back in….reach for spoon and coffee and filter and place on clean counter

—soap & wash hands, reach for filter to place, rinse otherwise-clean spoon, count out

the coffee spoons (T.S. Eliot’s line
of measuring out our lives

with coffee spoons), roll the bag and put away…and with back of a knuckle, press

ON — and begin to hear it breathe, burp, drip. Wash the hands again, quick-rinse an

already-clean cup, just in time, the machine stops and I pour. Meditative (but also mindful

— knowing when to wash in intervals between), then sit by my favorite window, and

if the grassy small hills and field outside my back patio are clear of people or sparsely so,

I courageously open the door and pray the air has been empty of passersby for some time

—consciously keeping one eye out to see the day, and if people have frequented or not, the

small field — if timing works itself out,
I fling the door wide open, and pray the air

is safe — I sun. I will stand on my patio and bask while I take me coffee in my favorite

cup….and let the warmth & light pour over
— I stay quiet, hugging my cup with both

hands… and when the unmasked scatter out into the small field, I will sit inside, right by

this wall of light, coming through the glass
door, and near it, the wide window… I will sit

a moment, only concentrate on the warmth in my hands as I hold the cup… attend fully to

the flavor of this coffee filling my mouth …. and this quiet moment of light

… I watch the owner of one dog across the field; and a lone dog let out a moment on a

balcony far across the way … someone further down walking theirs on a long leash…. or a

runner even further out, courageous enough
to breathe deeply, courageous enough they

will not encounter anyone near … somehow… the moments we are slowed down as such are

gifts… we juxtapose this quiet with the once a week or twice a week outings for

essentials….figuring out how to best keep out the unwanted air — of others’ …. then the

speed with which we execute the trip … if we’re lucky, we’ve not run out of gloves to

protect…. then the tiring, back-straining process of bringing palettes of water in….

the one gallon at a time….water, milk, juices…. the methodical procedure of washing rinsing

re-washing the invisible away …we pray, down drains that run far… praying it washed away

forever….then wash the hands between lathers and rinse and put away … this sometimes

feels it takes all day—and does—on days we set aside for the necessary entry into the

world — Between the meditative moments of preparing coffee and wiping down counters…

between the slow, conscious methodical observance of what our hands can do….

between the favorite chair and looking out at bright green fields through glass, observant of

the often-equally-slow movements of people… the slow preferred moments of reading or

listening to music or prayer … or recorded sounds of sea … balanced against the

rigorous efforts, we go out into the world… praying we only bring in what we need…

—praying we keep out the unwanted … in air, on feet. Diligence and the tiring moments

of—-worth the effort, being awake-and-aware
… of all things that necessitate our keeping

close (food & beverage & soaps & disinfecting things) — or far (the unnamed).

Balance must be the lesson on all the calendars….those before now…

and now… and the future….if we are blessed into it. Balance. Even as the day

balances itself between sun’s rising and its falling, and between its setting and recurrent

rising… may we be so-balanced as day … between darkness and light.

And praying you are surrounded by the good people of your life (even at a distance) …. at

such a time, the value of faces, and voices, and names, is of utmost import. And stay

peaceful, if we can, avoiding what stirs too much, reserving our energy as we ought, and

reading the incoming articles’ at arm’s-length … for wisdom … but unshaken,

we pray. Yearning for the staid.

– via Marian Haddad

The worst is not death but being blind, blind to the fact that everything about life is in the nature of the miraculous.
The language of society is conformity; the language of the creative individual is freedom. Life will continue to be a hell as long as the people who make up the world shut their eyes to reality. Switching from one ideology to another is a useless game. Each and every one of us is unique, and must be recognized as such. The least we can say about ourselves is that we are American, or French, or whatever the case may be. We are first of all human beings, different one from another, and obliged to live together, to stew in the same pot. The creative spirits are the fecundators: they are the lamed vov who keep the world from falling apart. Ignore them, suppress them, and society becomes a collection of automatons.
What we don’t want to face, what we don’t want to hear or listen to, whether it be nonsense, treason or sacrilege, are precisely the things we must give heed to. Even the idiot may have a message for us. Maybe I am one of those idiots. But I will have my say.o
– Henry Miller

It’s only by turning ourselves inside out that we shall become something. Is it not a great comfort to the caterpillar to learn that she is a mere larva, that her time of being a semi-crawling digestive tube will not last, and that after a period of confinement in the mortuary of her chrysalis, she will be born again as a butterfly – not in a nonexistent paradise dreamed up by some caterpillary, consoling philosophy, but here in this very garden, where she is now laboriously munching on her cabbage leaf? We are all caterpillars and it is our misfortune that, in defiance of nature, we cling with all our strength to our condition, to our caterpillar appetites, caterpillar passions, caterpillar metaphysics, and caterpillar societies. Only in our outward physical appearance do we bear to the observer who suffers from psychic shortsightedness any resemblance whatsoever to adults; the rest of us remain stubbornly larval. Well, I have very good reasons for believing (indeed if I didn’t there’d be nothing for it but to go off and dangle from the end of a rope) that man can reach the adult stage, that a few of us already have, and that those few have not kept the knack to themselves. What could be more comforting?
– René Daumal

All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.
To be natural is to be obvious,
and to be obvious is to be inartistic.
– Oscar Wilde

Sometimes at night I would sleep open-eyed underneath a sky dripping with stars. I was alive then.
– Albert Camus

Don’t write what you know. Write what you are willing to discover.
– Yusef Komunyakaa

The people who have created this system, and who perpetuate this system, they are out of balance. They have made us out of balance. They have come into our minds and they have come into our hearts and they’ve programmed us. Because we live in this society, and it has put us out of balance. And because we are out of balance we no longer have the power to deal with them…
We are a natural part of the creation, we were put here on the sacred mother Earth to serve a purpose. And somewhere in the history of people we’re forgetting what the purpose is. The purpose is to honor the earth, to protect the earth, to live in balance with the Earth. And we will never free ourselves until we address the issue of how we live in balance with the Earth. Because I don’t care who it is, any child who turns on their mother is living in a terrible, terrible confusion. The Earth is our mother, we must take care of the Earth.
– John Trudell, 1980

All my chakras vanished
when I tasted my Self.
Now I’m a rose-apple pie,
too caramelized and sticky
for a subtle body.
Meditate on my flavor, friend,
all sweet and sour and
cinnamon flesh.
I have no recipe.
This crust was cooked with tears.
Let’s savor each other and forget
our esoteric Dharma talks,
our secret books of tantra.
I don’t know how the heart gets baked
until its soft and risen,
but I’m sure it’s made
with real butter.
And I don’t know if there’s
a higher world than this,
with Winter wheat and valiant weeds
still blossoming in my ruined garden.
But I’m perfectly sure
about one thing:
On the tip of a honey-gold stamen,
the earth is just a pollen speck
in the flower of Now.
– Fred LaMotte


First we need to recognize self-existing wakefulness. Slowly, slowly, we need to repeat the instants of uncontrived naturalness, developing the strength of the recognition. Once we reach stability, there is nondistraction day and night; space and awareness have mingled. Our minds have been under the power of dualistic grasping and fixation for so long that we have taken the nondual for a duality. Thus, it’s difficult to immediately be used to the awakened state. We have trained for so long in the opposite of recognizing mind-essence, which is exactly what samsara has been in all our past lives, up until the present moment. We have this unwholesome and deeply ingrained habit. Now we must change this habit into the habit of recognizing mindessence. Since for a beginner the moment of recognition lasts only a very short time, we have to repeat it many times. To repeat the recognition of mind-essence, you don’t necessarily have to sit down. Do not make any distinction between the training when sitting and the training when moving around in daily life situations—walking, talking, eating, and lying down. Do not limit the practice to sessions. The view is rigpa, the meditation training is rigpa, and the conduct is rigpa. This is the way to get used to the awakened state.

The moment you recognize rigpa as the view, this is the meditation training, this is the conduct, and this is the fruition. At that moment, all of samsara and nirvana are subsumed within the state of rigpa, in one sweep. When you are fully stable in the recognition of rigpa, samsara has totally vanished into nirvana and there is neither distraction during the day nor confusion during the night. There is only one—the oneness of rigpa.

The actual meaning of meditation state in Buddhism, when using the term nyamshak, is equality, composure, equanimity. In the moment of recognizing rigpa, there is no need to accept or reject, adopt or avoid, hope or fear. There is an evenness, regardless of the situation. The very basis for such equanimity is this present wakefulness, without which we would be corpses, only physical bodies, material forms. Yet now we are alive because of this present wakefulness. Once you recognize this present wakefulness that does not accept or reject, affirm or deny, hope or fear, that in itself is sufficient. It is not your mind from yesterday or from last night, tomorrow, or next month. It is this very moment, right now. Where is it? Can you find it? Can you find this instant? Recognize this instantaneous wakefulness. Let your mind recognize itself, and immediately you know that there is no thing to be seen. This is just as Rangjung Dorje, the third Karmapa, sang:

When observing objects,
they are seen to be the mind, devoid of objects.
When observing the mind,
there is no mind, as it is empty of an entity.
When observing both,
dualistic fixation is spontaneously freed.
May we realize the luminous nature of mind.

When examining outer objects, you understand that there are no real objects—there is only the perceiving mind. Recognizing the nature of this mind, you find no entity. When you look into both subject and object, the fixation on duality dissolves; the existence of a concrete object and a separate concrete subject simply falls away. The duality of perceiver and perceived collapses.

“May we realize the luminous nature of mind.” Here, luminous refers to the fact that rigpa is empty and yet cognizant. Physical space cannot be lucid; it has no capacity to know either itself or something else. This is why rigpa is defined as unconfined empty cognizance suffused with knowing. It is the unerring original, natural state. If you do not contrive it in any way but simply let it be what it is, then right now the awakened state is spontaneously present. Your immediate,.natural, present wakefulness is itself the true Samantabhadra.

In short, giving up doer and deed, rest in nondoing. When you train in giving up doer and deed, you will approach nonaction. Doer and deed refers to the subject-object structure. When you recognize mind-essence, do you find any place from which your thinking arises, any place where it dwells, any location into which it vanishes? Right then and there you have reached nonaction. Consider this: have you ever been able to find a place where space came out of? A place where it began? A place where it abides and into which it will disappear? This is described as devoid of mental constructs, beyond arising, dwelling, and ceasing. It is also called nonaction. When something does not arise, dwell, or cease, it is 100 percent certain that it is empty.

So, mind is empty, but if it were only empty, it would be impossible to have pleasure and pain or the experiences of buddhafields and hells. Since they are definitely possible, it proves that mind is both empty and cognizant. Because of this there is samsara and nirvana, pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow—the results of virtuous actions, the higher realms and buddhafields, and the results of negative deeds, which are the three lower realms and the suffering that comes with these. There is samsara below, nirvana above and in between, the path that is the karmic actions of good and evil. All this cannot be denied.

It is all like a dream. We have not yet woken up from the deep sleep of ignorance. Usually we dream while we sleep. The moment we wake up, we do not dream anymore. Buddhas and bodhisattvas are like somebody who has already awakened from sleep. There are all these different dreams—pleasant, unpleasant, fascinating, horrifying—but at the moment we wake up, where are they? Where do they go? Since they are just habitual tendencies, how can they come from anywhere or go anywhere? Similarly, all the different experiences that arise during the day take place within the framework of dualistic mind. The moment dualistic mind is suspended in rigpa—the moment thinking dissolves—the outcome is the wakefulness of knowing (rigpey yeshe), which is essence without thought.

I have told you the “story of mind.” Now you need to train in the unfabricated present wakefulness that is possible only through recognition. Knowing how to recognize mind-essence is similar to turning on the light. The light doesn’t come on unless you press the switch. When you have pressed the switch, when the light is on, you naturally meet empty cognizance suffused with knowing. This is exactly what sentient beings never do. They don’t know how to recognize. They don’t switch on their light. If they did, this one taste of empty cognizance suffused with knowing would automatically be present, because our own nature is dharmata; our essence is rigpa. But even if sentient beings do happen to glimpse the natural state, they do not know what it is—they fail to acknowledge it—and it turns into the indifferent state of the all-ground.

When you are face to face with your nature, if you do not begin any striving in terms of shamatha and vipashyana or ordinary confusion, you have already seen the essence of mind. It looks like no thing whatsoever. Because it is no thing whatsoever, there is no thing that you can label or describe, no thing about which you can form concepts. It is beyond thought, word, or description. This is prajñaparamita, transcendent knowledge, since it transcends any subject and any object to be known. Let me repeat a famous quote:

Transcendent knowledge is beyond
thought, word, and description.
It neither arises nor ceases, like the identity of space.
It is the domain
of individual self-knowing wakefulness.
To this mother of the buddhas of the three times,
I pay homage.

Since it is within the individual domain of cognizant wakefulness, anyone can know it. Domain here means that it is possible to recognize. What is recognized is not something that can be thought of, described, or illustrated through example. This knowing is the mother of the buddhas of the three times, named Prajñaparamita, the Great Mother. The experience quality of this is called the male buddha, and the empty quality is the female buddha. Their unity is the primordial Buddha Samantabhadra with consort, also known as Changeless Light.

There is one single essential point that encompasses view, meditation, conduct, and fruition— one phrase I have now mentioned quite a few times: undivided empty cognizance suffused with knowing. This is of unparalleled importance. This undivided empty cognizance is our basic nature, which is exactly the same whether we are a buddha or a sentient being. What makes the difference is whether it is suffused with knowing or unknowing. The difference lies simply in recognizing or not recognizing. An ordinary sentient being is unaware of his or her nature. Ordinary sentient beings are undivided empty cognizance suffused with unknowing, caught up in the three poisons. A yogi, a true practitioner, is someone who has been introduced to this natural state and is undivided empty cognizance suffused with knowing, the three kayas. A yogi does not take it as enough to merely have recognized. Without training, the strength of that recognition will never be perfected, and there is no stability. A yogi trains in this until perfection, the fruition of the three kayas.

Do not be content with just recognizing the nature of mind—it is essential to train in it also. The way to do so is as Padmasambhava said in these four lines from the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo:

Empty cognizance of one taste,
suffused with knowing,
Is your unmistaken nature,
the uncontrived original state.
When not altering what is, allow it to be as it is,
And the awakened state
is right now spontaneously present.

As it is here means in actuality. Actuality means seeing directly how it is, not as an idea or a concept. By recognizing the nature of the thinker, one realizes the fact that emptiness and cognizance are an indivisible unity. This fact is no longer hidden; it is experienced. When this actuality is allowed to be as it is, it is not contrived in any way whatsoever. Then the state of a buddha, the awakened state, is, right now, spontaneously perfected. All obscuration has dissolved. These are quite impressive words, these four lines spoken by Padmasambhava himself. They encapsulate the whole meaning of training in the view, meditation, conduct, and fruition.

Once more, it is not enough to recognize the nature of mind as being empty and cognizant. We have to train in perfecting its strength. The training is to recognize again and again. The moment we recognize undivided empty cognizance, that is rigpa itself. But it is not fully grown—it is not an adult state of rigpa. The level of recognition we are at now is called baby rigpa. It needs to grow up, because at present it is not capable of conducting itself or functioning fully. We need to grow to the level of a human who has “developed the strength,” who has reached the age of seventeen, eighteen, or nineteen, and has become independent and can take care of himself or herself. That is stability. For that to happen, we need to train repeatedly. That is essential!

The word simplicity is extremely important in Dzogchen. Simplicity means free from mental
constructs, free from extraneous concepts. A famous statement says:

See the view of no viewing.
Train in the meditation with nothing meditated upon.
Carry out the conduct of nondoing.
Achieve the fruition in which there is no thing attained.

This statement is incredibly profound, and it is very important to understand exactly what is meant here. It is pointing at simplicity, at nondoing, at nonaction, at the very fact that our innate nature is not a view to be seen as a new orientation that we somehow gain comprehension of. The true view is not like that at all.

Complexity obscures simplicity. In all the other vehicles, starting with the vehicle for shravakas and up to and including Anu Yoga, there are principles to grasp and objects to hold in mind. There are actions to carry out and results to achieve. But the view, meditation, conduct, and fruition of Ati Yoga transcend everything other than acknowledging what is originally present as our own nature. This vehicle is simply a matter of acknowledging that our essence is already an undivided empty cognizance. Why imagine what is already empty as being empty? There is no need to grasp an emptiness that is anything other than what already is. This is the meaning of “see the view of no viewing.”

Next, “train in the meditation with nothing meditated upon.” To meditate means to keep something in mind. Do we have to keep in mind the empty cognizance, or do we rather simply acknowledge what is already present? How can you imagine empty cognizance, anyway? It is not necessary to do anything fancy; simply see how it already is.

About “carrying out the conduct of nondoing”: in all the other vehicles there is something to do to keep oneself busy with, but here the ultimate conduct is to abandon the ninefold activities. It is said, “Don’t busy yourself with deeds and doings.” Deeds and doings means activity involving subject and object that obscures the state of nonaction. It is also said, “Being free from deeds and doings, you have arrived at nondoing.” That is the very key point. In this teaching, we simply need to recognize the original state of empty cognizance. At that point there is no “thing” to concentrate upon, no struggle to achieve.

All teachings are completed in the Great Perfection. The sutras all start out with, “In the Indian language, the title is such-and-such,” and end with, “Hereby the sutra called such-and-such is completed.” The word completed means finished, perfected. In other words, in the moment of recognizing the nature of mind, all the vehicles are perfected. Great Perfection means that our nature itself is already fully perfect. We don’t have to make our empty essence pure; it is primordially pure. We don’t have to make our basic nature cognizant; it is already spontaneously
perfected as cognizance. Nor does the all-pervasive capacity need to be fabricated. Honestly, how could you possibly create the empty essence or cognizant nature? They are spontaneously present, effortlessly. Train in this effortlessness!
– Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

…or a meditator, or a yogi… Doesn’t whatever consumes us, transform us?

All great human deeds both consume and transform their doers. Consider an athlete, or a scientist, or an artist, or an independent business creator. In the service of their goals they lay down time and energy and many other choices and pleasures; in return, they become most truly themselves.

– Lois McMaster Bujold

Political institutions and ideologies are the warty outgrowth of the religious thinking of the man; in a way responsible for the tragedy of mankind. We are slaves to our ideas and beliefs, and we torture ourselves in the hope of achieving something. All our experience, spiritual or otherwise, is the basic cause of our suffering.
– Krishnamurti

It’s simply demoralizing sharing a country with people who think Donald Trump is someone worth emulating: to be surrounded by that kind of moral inversion every single day, to be continually encountering such cruelty.

It’s a source of profound and sustained grieving to believe that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and afforded opportunity—and to know how many simply do not share that belief. I don’t hate these people but I am deeply saddened by them.

– Pastor John Pavlovitz

Throughout my life,
I haven’t been poor
Nor have lived
amid wealth.
Pointing at the moon,
looking at the moon,
I’m just an old traveler
along the way.
– Trans. John T. Carpenter

You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate.
– Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Manchin, standing alone in a press conference of one, says “enough is enough.”
I actually agree with him on that. 
Just not how he means it.
– Eric Folkerth

Evolution happens because some life forms outgrow entrenched prejudices, overcoming the fear of difference. At that point, coordinating shared agreements of mutual benefit sets creation through affiliation in motion. Photosynthetic algae didn’t have much in common with scavenging fungal microbes, yet some broad-minded algae and fungi found they could really enjoy partnering up as lichen, thus becoming the first of the living to colonize the land. The first flowering plants weren’t very very similar to flying animals, but capitalizing on the advantages of their specialized alliances, they seem to have come to like each other a lot. Urgency or serendipity may have given some evolutions a nudge, yet an habitual bias can ignore both necessities and opportunities. Symbiotic breakthroughs of creation through affiliation don’t happen every day, and they don’t happen without the cooperative agreement of those involved. Such communication is even more materialistically inexplicable than sentient experience in general, since it involves psychological agreements, making a deal. Which means coordinating two very different processes of biosentient self-motion. And as long as such collaborative diversity is fundamental to the health of living systems, there is hope for the human species. There is so much sympathetic collaboration in the worlds of the living that we’ve hardly begun to glimpse the amazing possibilities of life’s penchant for creation through affiliation.
– George Gorman

True religion/spirituality does not simply help those who are hungry/homeless/marginalized, it looks for the cause of them being hungry/homeless/marginalized and puts an end to it.
– Rev. Mark Sandlin

I am convinced that personal growth is one part reinvention—for every four parts reclamation.
– Subversive Lens

Ideas are worth nothing unless backed by application. The smallest of implementations is always worth more than the grandest of intentions.
– Robin Sharma

Dance is proof she loves
herself, no questions,
no music required,
no crowd needed.
– Porsha Olayiwola

It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary. War is obsolete. It is a mater of converting the high technology from weaponry to livingry.
– R. Buckminster Fuller

But what after all is one night? A short space, especially when the darkness dims so soon, and so soon a bird sings, a cock crows, or a faint green quickens, like a turning leaf, in the hollow of the wave.

Night, however, succeeds to night. The winter holds a pack of them in store and deals them equally, evenly, with indefatigable fingers. They lengthen; they darken. Some of them hold aloft clear planets, plates of brightness. The autumn trees, ravaged as they are, […] gleam in the yellow moonlight, in the light of harvest moons, the light which mellows the energy of labour, and smooths the stubble, and brings the wave lapping blue to the shore.
– Virginia Woolf

Privacy, intimacy, anonymity and the right to secrets are all to be left outside the premises of the Society of Consumers. […] Since we are all commodities, we are obliged to create demand for ourselves. Membership of the confessional society is invitingly open to all, but there is a heavy penalty attached to staying outside. […] The updated version of Descartes’s Cogito is ‘I am seen, therefore I am’ – and that the more people who see me, the more I am…
– Zygmunt Bauman

We have so hopelessly ceded our humanity that for the modest handouts of today we are ready to surrender up all principles, our soul, all the labors of our ancestors, all the prospects of our descendants—anything to avoid disrupting our fragile existence. We have lost our strength, our pride, our passion. … We hope only not to stray from the herd, not to set out on our own. …
In order to maintain a respectable face, [violence] will without fail call forth its ally—Lies. For violence has nothing to cover itself with but lies, and lies can only persist through violence. It is not every day and not on every shoulder that violence brings down its heavy hand: It demands of us only a submission to lies, a daily participation in deceit—and this suffices as our fealty.

And the simplest and most accessible key to our self-neglected liberation lies right here: personal nonparticipation in lies. Though lies conceal everything, though lies embrace everything, we will be obstinate in this smallest of matters: let them embrace everything, but not with any help from me.

This opens a breech in the imaginary encirclement caused by our inaction. It is the easiest thing for us to do but the most devastating for the lies. For when people renounce lies, lies simply cease to exist. Like parasites, they can only survive when attached to a person.

We are not called upon to step out onto the square and shout out the truth, to say out loud what we think—this is scary, we are not ready. But let us at least refuse to say what we do not think.

This is our path, the easiest and most accessible one, which takes into account our inherent cowardice, already well rooted. … If we did not paste together the dead bones and scales of ideology, if we did not sew together the rotting rags, we would be astonished how quickly the lies would be rendered helpless and subside.

That which should be naked would then really appear naked before the whole world.
– Alexander Solzhenitsyn

We’ve turned into a visual culture… So if you are used to information reaching you visually by the computer, by the television screen, by the motion picture screen, it’s difficult to learn how to read deeply and to really be alone with what you are reading.
– Harold Bloom

The serious revolutionary, like the serious artist, can’t afford to lead a sentimental or self-deceiving life. Patience, open eyes, and critical imagination are required of both kinds of creativity.
– Adrienne Rich

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.
– Henry Ellis

The Remains
by -Mark Strand

I empty myself of the names of others. I empty my pockets.
I empty my shoes and leave them beside the road.
At night I turn back the clocks;
I open the family album and look at myself as a boy.

What good does it do? The hours have done their job.
I say my own name. I say goodbye.
The words follow each other downwind.
I love my wife but send her away.

My parents rise out of their thrones
into the milky rooms of clouds. How can I sing?
Time tells me what I am. I change and I am the same.
I empty myself of my life and my life remains.

by Mark Strand

Your best friend is gone,
your other friend, too.
Now the dream that used to turn in your sleep,
like a diamond, sails into the year’s coldest night.

What did you say?
Or was it something you did?
It makes no difference — the house of breath collapsing
around your voice, your voice burning, are nothing to worry about.

Tomorrow your friends will come back;
your moist open mouth will bloom in the glass of storefronts.
Yes. Yes. Tomorrow they will come back and you
will invent an ending that comes out right.

Action absorbs anxiety.
– Angeles Arrien

Recently learned that guards at Guatanamo Bay used Star Wars names to conceal their identities from detainees and once again I’m struck by how members of the Empire think they’re actually the rebels.
– @KendraWrites

I keep believing in an art, a poetry whose main principle is force [… ]The force to continue wagering on the possibility of a construction of a paradise, even if all the evidence on hand tells us that this mission is insane.
– Zurita tr, Borzutzky

If we call freedom not only the capacity to escape power but also and especially the capacity to subjugate no one, then freedom can exist only outside language. Unfortunately, human language has no exterior: there is no exit.” If we were mystics or supermen, Barthes goes on, there would be an exit, but since we are not, our only option is to cheat speech, or to cheat with speech.
– Michael Wood on Roland Barthes, from 1986.

Night after night goes by in the old man’s head./We try to ask new questions. But whatever/The old poets failed to say will never be said.
– Robert Bly

Cooperacies of Continuous Evolution
As we learn that everything we think, feel, and say involves using psychological abilities to pursue certain values, this levels the playing field. We become more aware of the distance between freely cooperative influence/adaptation and the mutual imprisonings of coercive societies (where even the dominant are stuck). Even a stone will not renounce its stonehood, while living minds democratically coordinate multifaceted agendas through meaningful interactions.
Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affection and loyalties, out of the experiences of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something.
– John Gardner
There is rarely anything more important to a social animal than the subject of their own Group. Most cooperative organisms are devotedly supporting the groups to which they most deeply belong. A cooperative amoeba can sacrifice its life protecting its society of amoebas known as a slime mold, just as people fight those who attack their tribes or countries. This sense of commitment uses our supportive and protective skills to strengthen and maintain valued relationships over long periods. While the common interest of relationships is about becoming friends or allies, groups concentrate on staying meaningfully connected. Relationships work better over longer periods when participants become devoted to groupings that feel worthwhile. A dog doesn’t risk its life to save a human because it feels like that’s the rule. It sacrifices itself on account of how much it wants its own “pack” to stay together. Of course there’s a cost to committing oneself. Social animals adapt some their self-centered impulses to the needs of the group. Such “domestication” is a compromise, since a cooperative push inhibits some freedoms for a time. Most social species avoid this by limiting particular demands to essentials, while thrilling in the associative commons of such friendliness. Without the thrill of it, collective cooperation would never have happened.

We suffer more in imagination than in reality.
– Seneca

Money isn’t something you have or don’t have .. it’s an energy with which you have a relationship or you don’t. The QUALITY of that relationship and who you are within it, will shape the QUANTITY of your money and how it partners with you.
– Simone Wright

Dukkha is existential rope-burn. It’s caused by resistance.
– Vince Fakhoury Horn

Do not speak of your happiness to one less fortunate than yourself.
– Plutarch

…I do not think that more information always makes a richer poem. I am attracted to ellipsis, to the unsaid, to suggestion, to eloquent, deliberate silence. The unsaid, for me, exerts great power: often I wish an entire poem could be made in this vocabulary.
– Louise Gluck

In the end a person must lose that which is most precious, that to which one’s whole life has been devoted. The treasure is consciousness; it is the ego’s final sacrifice to the Self.
– June Singer

your life
is shaped
by your mind
– Dhammapada

Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.
– Mark Black

is the highest
spiritual practice
– Dhammapada

I don’t have an agent, but there is a small fox that lives in the woods next to my house who would, I think, given the opportunity, champion my work.
– Justin Bryant

I have too
prayed to the Gods,
but love will have its way
– Manyoshu

if a mirror ever makes
you sad, remember that
it does not know you
– Kabir

I keep believing in an art, a poetry whose main principle is force [… ]The force to continue wagering on the possibility of a construction of a paradise, even if all the evidence on hand tells us that this mission is insane.
– Zurita tr, Borzutzky

The poor have no residence. They have homes because they remember mothers or grandfathers or an aunt who brought them up. A residence is a fortress, not a story; it keeps the wild at bay. A residence needs walls. Nearly everyone among the poor dreams of a small residence, like dreaming of rest. However great the congestion, the poor live in the open, where they improvise, not residences, but places for themselves. These places are as much protagonists as their occupants; the places have their own lives to live and do not, like residences, wait on others. The poor live with the wind, with dampness, flying dust, silence, unbearable noise (sometimes with both; yes, that’s possible) with ants, with large animals, with smells coming from the earth, rats, smoke, rain, vibrations from elsewhere, rumors, nightfall, and with each other. Between the inhabitants and these presences there are no clear marking lines. Inextricably confounded, they together make up the place’s life.
– John Berger, Hold Everything Dear

What starts things

are the accidents behind the eyes
touched off by, say, the missing cheekbone
of a woman who might have been beautiful

it is thinking about
your transplanted life-line going places
in someone else’s palm, or the suicidal games
your mind plays with the edge
of old wounds, or something
you couldn’t share with your lover

there are no endings

people die between birthdays and go on for years;
what stops things for a moment
are the words you’ve found for the last bit of light
you think there is
– Stephen Dunn

The child naively believes that everything should be fair and everyone should be honest, that only good should prevail, that everybody should have what they want and there should be no pain or sadness.The child believes the world should be perfect and is outraged to discover it is not.

And the child is right.

– Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, Wisdom to Heal the Earth

Nothing is more important than empathy for another human beings’ suffering. Nothing. Not career, not wealth, not intelligence, certainly not status. We have to feel for one another if we are going to survive with dignity.
– Audrey Hepburn

Deep in the wintry parts of our minds, we are hardy stock and know that there is no such thing as a work-free transformation. We know that we will have to burn to the ground in one way or another, and then sit right in the ashes of who we once thought we were and go on from there.
– Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves

And probably when we’re all very old we’ll agree with each other and we’ll all sing together.
– Paul McCartney

In my mind
quiet I move along many silk roads
forking thoughts not dream
paths move forward
In certainty I smile
The sky is full of geese
– Henry David Thoreau

The one who can emancipate himself from the grip of collective psychosis and save at least his own soul, who lights a beacon of hope for others, proclaiming that here is at least one man who has succeeded in extricating himself from the fatal identity with the group psyche.
– Carl Jung

But right now, we stand on sacred and holy ground, for that which will be lost has not yet been lost, and realizing this is the key to unspeakable joy. Whoever or whatever is in your life right now has not yet been taken away from you. This may sound trivial, obvious, like nothing, but really it is the key to everything, the why and how and wherefore of existence. Impermanence has already rendered everything and everyone around you so deeply holy and significant and worthy of your heartbreaking gratitude.

Loss has already transfigured your life into an altar.
– Jeff Foster

To restore you and myself, I return to my state of garden and shade, cool reality, I hardly exist and if I do exist it’s with delicate care. Surrounding the shade is a teeming, sweaty heat. I’m alive. But I feel I’ve not yet reached my limits, bordering on what? Without limits, the adventure of a dangerous freedom. But I take the risk, I live taking it. I’m full of acacias swaying yellow, and I, who have barely begun my journey, begin it with a sense of tragedy, guessed what lost ocean my life steps will take me to. And crazily I latch onto the corners of myself, my hallucinations suffocate me with their beauty. I am before, I am almost, I am never.
– Clarice Lispector

I am coming to terms with the fact that loving someone requires a leap of faith, and that a soft landing is never guaranteed.
– Sarah Dessen

What was it about this unlovable century that convinced us we were, despite everything, eminently lovable as a people, as a species? What made us think that anyone who fails to love us is damaged, lacking, malfunctioning in some way? And particularly if they replace us with a god, or a weeping madonna, or the face of Christ in a ciabatta roll – then we call them crazy. Deluded. Regressive. We are so convinced of the goodness of ourselves, and the goodness of our love, we cannot bear to believe that there might be something more worthy of love than us, more worthy of worship. Greeting cards routinely tell us everybody deserves love. No. Everybody deserves clean water. Not everybody deserves love all the time.
– Zadie Smith

In a state of grace, one sometimes perceives the deep beauty, hitherto unattainable, of another person. And everything acquires a kind of halo which is not imaginary: it comes from the splendor of the almost mathematical light emanating from people and things. One starts to feel that everything in existence – whether people or things – breathes and exhales the subtle light of energy. The world’s truth is impalpable.
– Clarice Lispector


Nothing in the history of the church has done as much damage as the belief that Jesus is the only way to salvation. No one can count the souls tortured, the families torn apart, the non-Christians oppressed because of this idea.

When I read the Sermon on the Mount I believe Jesus was reassuring the disciples that he was embodying “the way, the truth and the life,” but that did not mean they could not also find the same truth elsewhere.

It seems to me Jesus was presenting himself as an example, not as an exception. I hear him saying his life was an embodiment of what he was trying to teach- which was about universal love, not religious moralism or dogma.

The whole point, it seems to me, was that Jesus was teaching his disciples to love radically and universally from their OWN core. Through his life Jesus taught his followers to see the “messiah” in themselves, in each other, and even in their enemies. That is why, when his followers came to understand what he was saying, he no longer called them “disciples,” he called them “friends.”

Yes, Jesus told his listeners they needed to follow him to get to heaven, but I do not believe he was speaking as a narrow minded sectarian. To “follow Jesus” did not mean one had to become a Christian or perish, it meant one has to love radically and universally from one’s own core just as Jesus did.
– Jim Rigby

The pendulum of the mind oscillates
between sense and nonsense,
not between right and wrong.
– Carl Jung

The very strings
Pinocchio was told kept
him from becoming a real
boy were the same ones
that allowed Peter to fly.
– Kevin Kantor

Nature is ever at work building
and pulling down, creating and destroying,
keeping everything whirling and flowing,
allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion,
chasing everything in endless song
out of one beautiful form into another.
– John Muir

One reason we rush so quickly to the vulgar satisfactions of judgment, and love to revel in our righteous outrage, is that it spares us from the impotent pain of empathy, and the harder, messier work of understanding.
– Tim Kreider, We Learn Nothing

I came to a point where I needed solitude
and just stop the machine of ‘thinking’
and ‘enjoying’ what they call ‘living’,
I just wanted to lie in the grass
and look at the clouds.
– Jack Kerouac, Lonesome Traveler

It is better to say ‘I’m suffering,’
than to say, ‘This landscape is ugly.’
– Simone Weil

We live in imaginary countries.
– Etel Adnan

When I paint, I never think of selling.
People simply fail to understand
that we paint in order to experiment
and to develop ourselves
as we strive for greater heights.
– Edvard Munch

When A Poet Dies
by paul catafago

When a poet dies,
the whole world mourns.
The peoples
recite the poet’s words
in the streets
from San Francisco
to Senegal,
children dance to songs
the poet wrote;
young rappers in cyphers
in Washington DC
and Paris freestyle
in honor of the poet
when a poet dies,
the poet’s first love,
now an old widow in
Coney Island in Brooklyn,
looks out to the Atlantic and
Talmudic students in
Warsaw sit shiva
and recite kaddish
when a poet dies;
the bells of St. Peter’s in Rome
ring out,
monks in Lhasa begin to fast,
yogis in Varanasi
enter sacred postures;
pilgrims make ablutions
in the Ganges,
Sufis perform zikr
in Cairo
and a sparrow flies north
when a poet dies,
nations that were at war
for years
declare ceasefire;
mothers all over the world
name their babies after
the poet;
when a poet dies;
a girl in Baghdad plants a rose bush
and recites the poet’s poems in Arabic,
and another girl in Tokyo does the same
in Japanese.
when a poet dies,
when a poet dies,
the whole world mourns.

New Learnings

And it feels like the right thing to do:
let everything go, set
everything free,

things we think ours
but seem not, for eighteen
reasons, or too much thinking

things that want to leave us,
people, home,

the older I get, I say,
free everything,

and in so doing, I learn what is mine,
for the moment—because other than

our spirit, and a post-body life,
a few things we know like blood
of our own, Mother, Father,

if we are the lucky ones;
children, if you have them;
and people who’ve stayed

over years, “siblings
that blood did not make”
—and family that feel

like friends, the few, few things
that time has proven, and God,
though, God is permanent, as our

spirits are, but the coat
you cannot find, or must throw out,
the ring you lost,

the one earring fallen off,
the temporary
love, how many of those

have we?—even the ones
we married,
one asks, “Oh, me, Oh, life

—of the questions of these recurring
—That you are here—that life exists.”
And in that existing, I will take it

by minute, by each of sixty seconds
in one, and that which stays—minute
upon minute upon a year

of minutes, a life of, is blessing;
and that which stayed
for a season,

is also; I say, and who am I
to say?—but I do, I say, release
expectation, the wish to find

your favorite scarf, that hangs
in your abandoned house, or to find
an old lover who has changed, or maybe

you have, the way days make everything
temporary, even the calendar does not stay,
even the day; the second rises and is gone,

what comes to your face and path, comes;
if you love it, let it in; never ask it
to stay, it will if it wants to—

if so, for a season, everybody loses
their favorite ring, person, thing—Everything
in flight, we are, each, a journey,

not merely the entirety of a life,
but the entirety of a day,
an hour, thus—every second, pregnant

with pause, or what comes to us,
and what comes our way, is
supposed to, they say; maybe we should know

that, believe—but everything
is winged: Monarch, swallow, hawk
or crow, everything,

an eagle’s flight, fluctuations
of time and place, the in and out
of things; we should travel lightly,

on the kindness of strangers, or our own;
nothing stays anyway,

even when we want it
to; the temporary world,
and it is beautiful—

just today, a gift unexpected,
a moment
awakened, and rarefied,

clearly lived, as one
moment—take it, tuck it
in a pocket, grateful

it came, surprising,
and you know it;
we collect these

moments, the way mother birds collect
small sticks for nests, but only till
the birds are born, and strong enough

to wing—Everything flies—towards
and away, is colored:
green plover, blue heron,

amethyst starling, gems we form crowns with,
the lapwing, its “iridescent green
and purple back”—comes to us “seeking

shelter, instead
of fight”—let it in,
the way someone might

let us in, taking shelter, near
a human. Then, let it rise,
when it wants to,

because, often,
the best gifts swoop
in, before flight. That

is the moment meant
for keeping. Tuck them
in pockets, saved gems to set,

in a round around a ring:
translucent, clear—
stones, prismed, shining,

or the opaque,
less clear, but rich—smooth to touch:
turquoise, jade,

larimar. Purple lapus
lazuli—Robert Henri taught,
we don’t have to stand

in front of what we love
to paint it, it nestles itself
inside our seeing,

our psyche, spirit, self;
it is always there,
an imprinted dusk

before its leaving.

– Marian Haddad

In my estimation, decolonization is contemporary work. It is not about going back to the past, it is about living in the engorged now – not the vanishingly thin slice of homogenous time that fits anorexically between minute lines, but a fervent weave of bodies and becomings past but not yet expired, futural but yet-already-here, ancestral but yet intergenerational, archetypal but no less material, invisible and yet the conditions by which seeing becomes possible. The past has not vanished; it prowls the loam of the immediate. To approach the gods, one must look to the past – if by “the past” one means the glistening surface of a newly rinsed teacup.
– Bayo Akomolafe

The Map is not the Territory

I always used to ask my survival club kids what they thought was the most important factor when travelling on foot in the desert. They would come up with food and water, which is fine, but few mentioned navigation. Knowing where you are in the desert, especially in relation to water, is the single most vital consideration, I think.

On most of my major desert journeys, I carried a compass (no GPS then), but the time it really came into its own was in sandstorms – the savage type known in the eastern Sahara as the Poison Wind. With visibility down to one metre, and the grit in your face and the dust in your eyes it might as well be pitch dark. Even the nomads couldn’t navigate in those conditions. It was only the compass that kept me on track.

I thought later that using a compass in a sandstorm is a good metaphor for our perception of the physical world. What we call matter is the equivalent of the compass-bearing – a mental concept that only comes into existence when we focus on it.

The bearing is not an illusion. It’s accurate, and it provides life or death information, but it tells me almost nothing about the desert beyond the wall of dust. This is as it should be, because if I had to take in all possible data about the world, I would be totally overwhelmed. The compass-bearing spares me from that, just as the file icon on your desktop spares you from having to deal with the incredibly complex network of the real file on your disk.

So it is with matter. We don’t have a ‘transparent windscreen’ into reality – it is as opaque as the sandstorm. We have to ‘navigate’ the world by using the information on our ‘screen of perception’ because we cannot see through the dust. The ‘dials’ on our screen – our senses – give us only the essential information we need to survive. 3.5 billion years of evolution has shown that any organism mirroring too much of the real world will end up as organic soup.

The main problem with the materialist narrative, though, is that it tries to tell us that the dials on our screen of perception ARE the real world, not just dials on a screen. That is as incoherent as claiming that the compass-bearing IS the desert. The dials on our screen of perception are indeed what we call ‘the physical world.’ but the physical world is only a map of the real, and the map is not the territory, as we all know.

There is a world beyond our screen of perception but it’s no more like what we call ‘matter’ than the compass-bearing is like the desert – or than the file icon on your desktop is like the real file on your disk. Ordinarily we don’t have access to that world beyond the screen.

So when in the desert in a sandstorm trust your compass, but never be deluded into thinking that when you follow the bearing it’s reality you are looking at.

– Michael Asher


“‘In God We Trust.’ I don’t believe it would sound any better if it were true.” -Mark Twain

The ancient teachers of Israel knew what they were doing when they warned against the dangers of using the divine name casually. Casual use of the symbol “God” can be a convenient disguise for bad science, bad art and bad ethics.

A bully can use the word “God” as easily as a nun.

Recently, Michael Flynn called for one national religion by piously saying, “If we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one religion. One nation under God and one religion under God.”

Flynn sounded so pious, one would almost forget he has twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

“In God We Trust” is a horrible national motto. First of all, because it is vacuous. Any sense of national unity invoked by the collectively reciting the word “God” is unraveled by the fact we all mean something different by that word.

For some people “God” means a loving parent for all people everywhere. For some people “God” conjurers the image of a cosmic bully who has chosen some people to rule over others. For many who don’t believe in God, having the word “God” on their currency is a violation of their First Amendment right NOT to have religion thrust down their throat.

The phrase, “In God We Trust” does not so much praise God, as ourselves. It can lead to the kind of theocratic narcism expressed by people like Michael Flynn. Theocrats believe the word “God” has been copyrighted by their group. They believe God wants them to dominate everyone else so that the one correct God (their own, of course) can be honored properly.

A lot of people think “In God We Trust” was a motto proposed by America’s founders. Actually, the motto was added to coins in 1956 replacing “E Pluribus Unum.”

“E Pluribus Unum” was a wonderful organizing principle for our nation. It affirmed our unity came from respecting diversity (“from many, one”). We never fulfilled the high calling of our original motto, but at least it gave us an ethical direction. What does “In God We Trust” even mean? How is it not self flattery? How is it different than the Nazi slogan “God is With Us?”

To stamp the word “God” on our currency not only violates the Constitution, it is the very definition of taking the divine name in vain. A nation that cowers behind imperial violence, lies when it says “In God We Trust.” A nation that surrenders its poor to the whims of capitalism lies when it stamps the name of God on its mammon. A nation that believes it can act unjustly so long as it appeases God with flattery blasphemes the name it claims to uplift.

My vote is to ditch “In God We Trust” and returns to “E Pluribus Unum.” And this time, we should really mean it.
– Jim Rigby

We live under the power of Modern Consciousness, which means that we are obsessed with progress. Wherever you are is not good enough. We always want to achieve something, rather than experience something. The opposite of this is Spiritual Consciousness. By that I mean you find enchantment in every action you do, rather in just the results of your action. Spiritual Consciousness is not a particular religion but a way of being.
– Satish Kumar

Modern science and medicine have made immeasurable contributions to humanity by improving our quality of life. However, like any instrument, science can be put to good use or bad. It is the motivation of the person wielding the instrument that determines whether it is put to constructive use, or whether the result will be damaging. For me, as a Buddhist, the most effective positive motivation is compassion. My hope is that during the 21st century, science will be increasingly guided by compassion and a commitment to enhancing the welfare, health and happiness of all sentient beings.
– The Dalai Lama

A few nights ago, I dreamt that a great teacher gave me a key to his house so that I didn’t wake him from sleep when I arrived.

What’s the significance of sleeping? This teacher taught me to dream and access dreaming states of consciousness for guidance and direction.

What’s the significance of the key? The dream reminds me that the “key” to life’s questions comes from sleeping and dreaming. It urges me to NOT “look” to the conventional waking world too much, but, instead, to close my eyes more often when facing the goals, yearnings, and difficulties of my life.

Dear Spirit: Thank you for this dream.

Thought pure and simple is as near to God as we can get; it is through this that we are linked with God.
– Samuel Butler

Wake up! There is no need to search; achievement leads to nowhere. It makes no difference at all, so just be happy now! Love is the only reality of the world, because it is all One, you see. And the only laws are paradox, humor, and change. There is no problem, never was, never will be. Relax into the world: just do your best. Wake up, regain your humor. You are already free.
– unknown

I was once an aching soul
grasping for anything
that resembled the bells of peacetime
but one day I let go
of everything I put on
and woke up in a god dream
and now the village inside
whirls like the earth mother
on her axis
telling wisdom stories
of roundness
and wombs
the importance of darkness
in the creation of new light

she tells stories of resilience
and of women at the center

stories of my maidenhood
climbing through canyons of
wrinkled timelines baked into my skin
pulling my love over her
like holy blankets
to ordain herself
as the high priestess
of her own enoughness
to light the torch
in the eye of her own belovedness
to emerge from her caves
of self doubt and abandon
to eat, to sing, to scream
all in the fire of the sun
– Kendall Rosenberg

SACRED EXHAUSTION Your tiredness has dignity to it! Do not rush to pathologise it, or push it away, for it may contain great intelligence, even medicine. You have been on a long journey from the stars, friend. Bow before your tiredness now; do not fight it any longer. There is no shame in admitting that you cannot go on. Even the courageous need to rest. For a great journey lies ahead. And you will need all of your resources. Come, sit by the fire of Presence. Let the body unwind; drop into the silence here. Forget about tomorrow, let go of the journey to come, and sink into this evening’s warmth. Every great adventure is fuelled by rest at its heart. Your tiredness is noble, friend, and contains healing power… if you would only listen…
– Jeff Foster

Everything will resolve itself through love. Stop wasting time running after the perfect community. Live your life fully in your community today. Stop seeing the flaws—and thank God there are some! Look rather at your own defects and know that you are forgiven and can, in your turn, forgive others and today enter into the conversion of love, and remember, pray always.
– Jean Vanier

To be a practitioner is to seek malleability, change, transformation, the shedding of your obscurations so that they do not imprison you in the same old habitual way. We are speaking about flexibility based on wisdom, malleability based on wisdom, changeability based on wisdom, transformability based on wisdom. This is the premise of being a practitioner of the dharma.
– Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

Please stop debating whether or not I aged well. Unfortunately it hurts all three of my feelings. My BODY hasn’t aged as well as I have. My body is a brain bag, it hauls me around to those places, and in front of faces, where there’s something to say or see. Youth and beauty are not accomplishments, they’re the temporary happy by-products of time and/or DNA. Don’t hold your breath for either. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, someone else might have given a fuck.
– Carrie Fisher

Spiritual practitioners often aspire to live alone in the mountains among wildlife, yet a city can be an equally or an even more supportive environment for practice. Unlike the wilderness, cities don’t have many trees, aside from those in parks, but they do have lots of people and—if you think about it—people are natural too! Because cities are filled with so many people, there are many more opportunities to practice kindness, compassion, joy in others’ happiness, and equal care for all.

In the city, even if we hole up in our apartment, we can’t escape the fact that others surround us. There is the old woman next door, a transient who sometimes sleeps on the stoop, and there is the drummer upstairs. If we try to isolate ourselves too much, we won’t be able to practice loving-kindness. If, on the other hand, we cultivate a sense of being interconnected—of being a part of our city in the same way that we are a part of our family—then we will develop loving care and kindness for all of our city’s people and we will have a lot of opportunity to practice.
– Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

i’ve read several articles on the subject of “fake buddhism”. similar arguments are made by followers of other religions. the essence of the argument is twofold: many believers do not practice the ethical and social aspects of their professed faiths, while others distort the fundamental teachings in order to accommodate their own personal spiritual and material manipulations. examples of these phenomenons are abundant. it is the case that it is difficult to ascertain how best to enact the ethical and social teachings of a religion. but it is clear to me that the process of understanding must be reversed: we should not learn ethics and social principles from religions: we should learn ethics and social principles from the embraces we give and reject, and then teach our religions to adhere to what’s good and true. religions cannot teach, they need to be taught. a religion that does not place ethics and social principles as first principles is a “fake religion” that must be discarded.
– hune margulies

I have thrown
my computer
from a four-story

Forgive me.
There were so many
that did not find me well.

– Sarah Smith

one of the best loved religious practices is prayer. but we should ask: why disclose to god what god already knows? god knows of my needs, my hopes, my fears and my deepest desires. god could grant my prayer even before i know what it is i am praying for. a father or mother do not wait to be asked before feeding their child. why god does? my belief is that true prayer is not a petition to god. not it is an exercise in inner development or spiritual transformation. prayer is a deed we do. we pray with our deeds of embrace of the neighbor. in other words: do not ask me if i prayed or not, ask my neighbor.
– hune margulies

Often when I imagine you,
your wholeness cascades into many shapes.
You run like a herd of luminous deer,
and I am dark;
I am forest.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

…where a man’s wound is, that’s where his genius will be.
– Robert Bly

One of the ancient functions of pilgrimage is to wake us from our slumber.
– Phil Cousineau

I love this wisdom about acceptance from the eminent psychologist, James Hillman: “Until the culture recognizes the legitimacy of growing down, each person in the culture struggles blindly to make sense of the darkness that the soul requires to deep into life.”
– Gunilla Norris

the widespread belief
that revision
is an essential part
of any writing
can be traced
to the great puritan
fear and distrust
of the imagination
a fear the puritan poet
John Milton
got round
by naming the imagination
(as Kerouac did)
the Holy Ghost
– Jack Foley

The word “perceive” and the word “receive” have the same Latin root, percipere which means “to understand,” from per which means “entirely” and capere which means “to take.” To perceive, then, means “to take things in entirely, completely, in a way that covers us with understanding.”

But first, we must put down our screens and filters. Once life enters us, then it is useful to discern what has entered. But often we block the true gift of perception by sorting things before they reach us and touch us…
– Mark Nepo

They deem me mad because I will not sell my days for gold; and I deem them mad because they think my days have a price.
– Khalil Gibran

Inner authentic presence comes from exchanging yourself with others, from being able to regard other people as yourself, generously and without fixation. So the inner merit that brings inner authentic presence is the experience of nonfixed mind, mind without fixation. When you meet a person with authentic presence, you find he has an overwhelming genuineness, which might be somewhat frightening because it is so true and honest and real. You experience a sense of command radiating from the person of inner authentic presence. Although that person might be a garbage collector or a taxi driver, still he or she has an uplifted quality, which magnetizes you and commands your attention. This is not just charisma. The person with inner authentic presence has worked on himself and made a thorough and proper journey. He has earned authentic presence by letting go, and by giving up personal comfort and fixed mind.
– Chögyam Trungpa, Sacred Path of the Warrior

Fun has a sacred dimension.
– Adriana Diaz

Why it’s so difficult to solve the ecological crisis!

In a social dilemma, individuals can benefit by free-riding on the investments of others, while still enjoying any benefits that collective action brings. The free-rider problem underlines the difficulty in finding cooperative solutions to global public goods problems, even though our tenure on this planet depends so crucially upon us doing so. When we play a global game with everyone on the planet, cooperation pays less than selfishness because cooperation offers no way to get away, no scope for relative advantage. Our failure to cooperate may spell disaster in the long term, but this timeline is far beyond the horizon that we typically consider. This stark evolutionary logic seems to have us racing toward a cliff edge, cognizant of our fate, and yet seemingly powerless to stop and call a truce.
– Nichola Raihani, The Social Instinct

If I had lived my life by what others were thinkin, the heart inside of me would have died.
– Bob Dylan

Hey, your spinning crazy world, I know.
All mangled-up with
ramped-up holiday stuff too
How about pajamas, lights down,
a warm cup of something,
and quiet tunes with me tonite?
Leave politics, news behind for a few.
– Vance Gilbert

Surround yourself with women who pray for you behind your back.
– Marian Haddad

Be fair, be just, forgive everything. Forget a word like skeptical and use the word melancholy. Forget the facts and think of the things, all the things. What is a fact in a whole world of things! It is only a vanity, a word, an intellectual term. There are all the things, all the appurtenances of the world, through which you move with love, as best as you can, doubting even your love as you doubt your hate, equally, doubting, staying fair, just, forgiving, rich and large.
– Jack Kerouac

Dukkha is existential rope-burn. It’s caused by resistance.
– Vince Horn

There are more like us. All over the world
There are confused people, who
[…] can wander into the wrong classroom,
And hear great poems lovingly spoken
By the wrong professor. And you find your soul
– Yahia Lababidi

Every breath taken in by the man
Who loves, and the woman who loves,
Goes to fill the water tank
Where the spirit horses drink.
– Robert Bly

Ravens Hiding in a Shoe
There is something men and women living in houses
Don’t understand. The old alchemists standing
Near their stoves hinted at it a thousand times.

Ravens at night hide in an old woman’s shoe.
A four-year-old speaks some ancient language.
We have lived our own death a thousand times.

Each sentence we speak to friends means the opposite
As well. Each time we say, “I trust in God,” it means
God has already abandoned us a thousand times.

Mothers again and again have knelt in church
In wartime asking God to protect their sons,
And their prayers were refused a thousand times.

The baby loon follows the mother’s sleek
Body for months. By the end of summer, she
Has dipped her head into Rainy Lake a thousand times.

Robert, you’ve wasted so much of your life
Sitting indoors to write poems. Would you
Do that again? I would, a thousand times.

– Robert Bly

How can I describe my life to you? I think a lot, listen to music. I’m fond of flowers.
– Susan Sontag

To be a ‘seeker’ presumes the absence of that which you seek. So ironically, to go searching for the truth, you must deny that it is here. The one you are looking for is the one who is looking.
– Christopher Wallis, Sanskrit scholar
(Whispers of Wisdom curated by Andrew Holecek)

Womb? Weary?
He rests. He has travelled.
– James Joyce

Let me become a doorway so big and so open that a new way of being can emerge, one not tied to the fiction of human individuals. One that is equally aware of the agony and ecstasy and is allowed to wildly swing out of the window of tolerance, achieving both the valleys and peaks that our culture has denied us. Let me exceed the graph. Let me swing past wellness into something wilder and less predictable.
– Sophie Strand

Why do so many writing programs require letters of recommendations from other writers? Don’t they know most of us are introverts who prefer to communicate with each other through cryptic symbolism in our poetry or prose!? Or through precisely worded correspondences that we obsess over just in case the other writer becomes wildly famous and these exchanges are published after our deaths!?
– Will Falk

For the New Year, 1981 by Denise Levertov

I have a small grain of hope— one small crystal that gleams clear colors out of transparency.
I need more.
I break off a fragment to send you.
Please take
this grain of a grain of hope so that mine won’t shrink.
Please share your fragment so that yours will grow.
Only so, by division, will hope increase,
like a clump of irises, which will cease to flower unless you distribute
the clustered roots, unlikely source—
clumsy and earth-covered—
of grace.

The girl gets carried away. She is the sugar cube, love is the cup of darjeeling – she dissolves faster than you think she will.
– Sabrina Benaim

You are hidden from me.
But it is You who keeps me alive.
– Rumi R.A.

Maybe the most important teaching
is to lighten up and relax.
– Pema Chödrön

Spiritual practice should be a laxative, not a sedative
– Chogyam Trungpa

All education is just about making people curious. That’s all it’s about.
– Stephen Sondheim

Teaching is a sacred profession. And art is a form of teaching.
– Stephen Sondheim

Black Stone Lying On A White Stone
César Vallejo – 1892-1938
Translated by Robert Bly

I will die in Paris, on a rainy day,
on some day I can already remember.
I will die in Paris—and I don’t step aside—
perhaps on a Thursday, as today is Thursday, in autumn.

It will be a Thursday, because today, Thursday, setting down
these lines, I have put my upper arm bones on
wrong, and never so much as today have I found myself
with all the road ahead of me, alone.

César Vallejo is dead. Everyone beat him
although he never does anything to them;
they beat him hard with a stick and hard also

with a rope. These are the witnesses:
the Thursdays, and the bones of my arms,
the solitude, and the rain, and the roads. . .

Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see
And learn
– Stephen Sondheim

It may sound odd, but I do not hesitate to say that the simpler melody, the more complex and strange may be the harmonizations and accompaniments that go well with it.
– Bela Bartok

We’ll find a new way of living

We’ll find a way of forgiving
– unknown

Most of our suffering comes from habitual thinking. If we try to stop it out of aversion to thinking, we can’t; we just go on and on and on. So the important thing is not to get rid of thought, but to understand it.
– Ajahn Sumedho, Noticing Space

The incarnation, Christ in us, makes mystics of us all.
– Bob Holmes

My English is bad. My French is bad. Photography is my only language.
– André Kertész

If the mind congeals in one place and remains with one thing, it is like frozen water and is unable to be used freely: ice that can wash neither hands nor feet. When the mind is melted and is used like water, extending throughout the body, it can be sent wherever one wants to send it.
-Takuan Soho, The Right Mind and the Confused Mind

It is futile trying to possess the universe,
And act on shaping it in the direction of one’s ambition.
The instruments of the universe cannot be shaped,
One cannot act upon it.
Act upon it and you will fail,
Grasp onto it and it will slip.
For everything, there is a time to tread; a time to trail,
A time to gust; a time to gape,
A time to vigor; a time to vice,
A time to carry; a time to ride.
Hence the master departs extremes.
Departs extravagance, departs magnificence.
– Laozi,The Tao Te Ching

The next time you go out in the world, you might try this practice: directing your attention to people—in their cars, on the sidewalk, talking on their cell phones—just wish for them all to be happy and well. Without knowing anything about them, they can become very real, by regarding each of them personally and rejoicing in the comforts and pleasures that come their way. Each of us has this soft spot: a capacity for love and tenderness. But if we don’t encourage it, we can get pretty stubborn about remaining sour.
– From her book Becoming Bodhisattvas

Lyric essays run like sand through our fingers. They are less meant to be caught and more meant to be experienced. Shapeliness matters, not progress.
– Jennifer Sinor

Ah! Lord, I know you don’t command the impossible. You know better than I do my weakness and imperfection; You know very well that never would I be able to love my sisters [and brothers] as You love them, unless You, O my Jesus, loved them in me.
… Ah! I understand now that charity consists in bearing with the faults of others, in not being surprised at this weakness, in being edified by the smallest acts of virtue we see them practice. But I understood above all that charity must not remain hidden in the bottom of the heart.
– St. Therese of Lisieux, Light from Light: an anthology of Christian mysticism

It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.
– Mark Twain

I believe you have to give memory time to mellow and age and become a narrative.
– Sarah Einstein

To be a human being among people and to remain one forever, no matter in what circumstances, not to grow despondent and not to lose heart — that’s what life is all about, that’s its task.
– Fyodor Dostoyevsky

At the end of the world, we will need new ways of consulting the invisible others upon whose backs we once thrived. Until we experiment with encountering these political constituencies at the edges of grammar, at the tips of our tongue, at the wilds beyond our fences, we will remain stuck in our prison cells – moving pieces of rock around, hoping that a secret configuration of our games would suddenly become the difference between incarceration and redemption.
– Bayo Akomolafe

It was a hierarchy
that visibly did not interest him,
that perhaps he no longer understood.
– Elena Ferrante, The Story of a New Name

Together, they figured out guitar chords as if they were ancient runes. When Paul and George heard that someone across town knew the fingering for the B7 chord—the essential chord to go with E and A for every blues-based song in the rock repertoire—they got on a bus to meet the guy and learn it.
– David Remnick

This is reductive, I know but what I think I’m seeing over the last twenty years, with the splintering of RL social circles and rise of international niche cultures online, is the loss of a common cultural (arts) heritage. Nothing is all good or all bad, as exemplified by me referring to Wagner now in reference to the idea of art’s role in creating a community. I used to be able to teach by referencing popular culture by now it’s difficult to find references common to a class of 18 year-olds.
– Ren Powell

What good is it if we just make ourselves more holy? What’s the point? The point is to serve,
to offer, to be the offering.
– Bernie Glassman

Our blood asks, how were the wealthy
and the law interwoven?
With what sulfurous iron fabric? How did the
poor keep falling into the tribunals?

How did the land become so bitter
for poor children, harshly
nourished on stone and grief?
So it was, and so I leave it written.
Their lives wrote it on my brow.

– Pablo Neruda

I loved you the same way that I learned how to ride a bike. Scared, but reckless. With no training wheels or elbow pads so my scars can tell the story of how I fell for you.
– Rudy Francisco

The artist’s feeling is his law.
– Caspar David Friedrich

I’ve been thinking about bohemia. When I was still in high school, the hippies were becoming big news. I wanted to be one and couldn’t wait to get out of the house. Eventually I ended up in North Beach in San Francisco, which was wall-to-wall bohemians—pre-beat bohemians, beats, and hippies. In the late 70s, the punks came in, and by the early 80s the whole thing was collapsing. I once saw bohemia as the alternative to mainstream life, but my take now (and has been for some time) is that it is only an exit from the mainstream. Bohemia never lasts. Once a particular bohemia gets rolling it becomes filled with vicious characters. Bohemia advocates doing away with all rules and leadership, which gives hustlers and egotists an open field without any obstructions. To create an alternative society, one has to go beyond bohemia and find the laws that make sense and then hold onto them. I’ve become aware of something—I don’t know if it has a name, I think of it as “neo-hippie”—which has all the usual characters: artists, aspiring entertainers, music fans, and druggies. The old spiritual seekers seem to have been replaced by New Agers and there is the addition of alternative leaning techies. But like the older bohemias, not very many people in it are really serious. It’s just people looking to have a bit of fun before they revert to mainstream life. That’s what happened to most of the hippies I once knew. We do need an alternative system, but it won’t be found until more people get serious about planting themselves within one.
– Mark Bitner

Tell me of the mountains
said the mountains
though I am tall of pine needles
and the golden light falls down
the long valleys to light my way

But I am not the mountains
said the mountains
but just a place where reeds grow
by a small lake

I am looking for you said the echo
but the mountain heard her not
looking down a pass to where someone once had been
but there were just rocks and beyond, a valley
singing a song.

What is long?
sang something
that might have been a bird
but never heard

The echo said I am only alone and maybe the mountains were never there.
– Nicholas Pierotti

If then you do not make yourself equal to God, you cannot apprehend God; for like is known by like.
Leap clear of all that is corporeal, and make yourself grown to a like expanse with that greatness which is beyond all measure; rise above all time and become eternal; then you will apprehend God. Think that for you too nothing is impossible; deem that you too are immortal, and that you are able to grasp all things in your thought, to know every craft and science; find your home in the haunts of every living creature; make yourself higher than all heights and lower than all depths; bring together in yourself all opposites of quality, heat and cold, dryness and fluidity; think that you are everywhere at once, on land, at sea, in heaven; think that you are not yet begotten, that you are in the womb, that you are young, that you are old, that you have died, that you are in the world beyond the grave; grasp in your thought all of this at once, all times and places, all substances and qualities and magnitudes together; then you can apprehend God.

But if you shut up your soul in your body, and abase yourself, and say “I know nothing, I can do nothing; I am afraid of earth and sea, I cannot mount to heaven; I know not what I was, nor what I shall be,” then what have you to do with God?”
– Hermes Trismegistus, Hermetica: The Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius

It was as though she was an exile from a world that saw things her way.
– Robertson Davies

The meaning crisis, or lets call it the ultimate negation, where nothing of the old paradigm has any meaning or sense, is the birth of the desire for spiritual truth. You don’t have to look far to find the ultimate negation: it is contemporary society. Which means paradoxically that this the best time in history to take up quest for the holy grail, whatever that happens to be for each individual. That is because nothing can be believed in anymore—not a father creator god nor any utopia of scientific materialism.
– TK

Being the adult in the room does not mean always biting your tongue.
– Ren Powell

The one who can emancipate himself from the grip of collective psychosis and save at least his own soul, who lights a beacon of hope for others, proclaiming that here is at least one man who has succeeded in extricating himself from the fatal identity with the group psyche.
– Carl Jung

To my own memory, I leave my words. They are far from perfect and were frequently misused, but they were heartfelt and honest. The only legacy I could ever accept.
– Jared Singer

One of the problems with adhering to an exclusively scientific understanding of existence is that it provides no foundation for love. The purely scientific view maintains that there is at bottom dead matter which, through chemistry and physics, somehow evolves into living structures. But the fundamental background is lifeless, loveless. There is another view, the genuinely spiritual view, that all of existence (and nonexistence) is mind. And that mind is love and wisdom, which are the same thing. Science allows only for knowledge—accumulating a body of facts. Believing in the scientific view does not eliminate the existence of love, but it does make it harder to manifest. Love requires conscious labor.
– Mark Bitner

how is being burned still a part of you?
are your bones dripping in smoke?
do you rage beyond your stillness
and let the ‘unclean’ embers fall around you
like seeds of grief?
how is that old fire in the lamp of your heart
shepherding your life?
are you responding to its cry
‘come home’?
will you draw with the ashes
of all your religions of love
before you leave this world
– Kendall Rosenberg

When we observe or listen to other people,
we often don’t see them clearly
or really hear what they’re saying.
We see and hear our projections and prejudices instead. Even if a friend gives us a compliment,
we find it difficult to receive their kind words.
Most of the time, our mind, thoughts, and feelings aren’t calm. They’re like the water in a muddy lake, which can’t reflect the sky because it’s been churned up by a storm.

If we’re not calm, we can’t listen deeply
and understand. But when our mind is calm,
we can see reality more clearly, like still water reflecting the trees, the clouds, and the blue sky. Stillness is the foundation of understanding
and insight. Stillness is strength…

We can only listen to another person
and understand their suffering if we have first looked deeply, embraced, and been kind to our own fear
and anger. We make peace with our own fears, worries, and resentments and look deeply
to understand their roots. This brings the insight
that can transform and heal.

The process of going home and making peace inside is critical to being able to offer love to another person. Everyone knows that peace must begin with oneself, but not everyone knows how to do it.
With the practice of mindful breathing,
calming the mind and relaxing the body,
you can start making peace inside you,
and you’ll feel much better right away.
Before you do the work of reconciliation with another, you need to restore communication with yourself.

When you’re sitting on a bus or in the subway,
instead of thinking of this and that,
look at the people around you.
Looking deeply at the expressions on their faces,
you will see their suffering. When you touch suffering like that, compassion is born in you.
Looking at living beings through the eyes
of compassion is a very strong practice.
A week of practice like that can make a big difference in your life and in the lives of others…

The ability to apologize sincerely and express regret for the unskillful things we say or do is an art.
A true apology can relieve a great deal of suffering
in the other person. Once we realize
that we may have said or done something
to make another suffer, we can find a way
to apologize as soon as possible.
If we can, we should apologize right away
and not wait. We can talk to the other person directly, or if they’re not there we can call them on the phone,
or even send a note. There is no need to wait
until the next time we meet.
A straightforward apology can have a powerful effect. We can just say, “I am very sorry.
I know I was unskillful. I was not mindful
or understanding.” We don’t need to justify or explain what we said or did; we just apologize.
– Thich Nhat Hanh, How To Fight

Psychological ideas of health, of strength, of wellness, of worthiness, and of success bow daily to notions of beauty, intelligence, and productivity that are measured by the marketplace.

This profound error leaves the most vulnerable – meaning those who are the most awake, sensitive, loving and connected to the collective body as a whole – carrying the symptoms for the rest of us.

In my view, this can only be rectified NOT by healing these carriers, but by lifting them up as our leaders, as our messengers, as our prophets, as our healers.

It is only this turning, the right-side-upping, not only financially and politically, but psychologically and spiritually, that can bring true healing to a deeply ill nation.
– David Bedrick

Never interfere with an enemy
while he’s in the process
of destroying himself.
– Napoleon

The truth isn’t always beauty,
but the hunger for it is.
– Nadine Gordimer

Why does winter sound angry, the deep-throated wind, the inanimate objects clanging against steel, today’s wind is new, it opens our season, it is not a bass howling, but nearly……..a low alto, sounds like foreboding, but I will not have foreboding, I will simply hear the dark throat of it, and it sounds like hard rain is pelting against stonedry walls, a drenching, a washing away. Simply hearing the sky will tell you, “Dress warmly. Bundle. Try not to float into wind,” an umbrella will be punched inside out by it, find a way to cover yourself, to stay dry, in this wet season. Now, a bass, a bassoon, playing, wind instruments, indeed. The sky makes such sounds. It is the sixth of the month, something about sixes can be angry, and planets are moving, the pulling of energies, we can feel them, because someone said, as we recall, we are stardust. Are we? Ways that things shine.
– Marian Haddad

Flowers are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out-values all the utilities of the world.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Money is a form of energy. . . but it is too powerful to co-exist with (pure) art. Every artist has to strike a delicate balance between sustenance and spiritual corrosion, when it comes to money… But, like or not, you have to deal with it.
– Eric Lee

I am attracted to ellipsis, to the unsaid, to suggestion, to eloquent, deliberate silence. The unsaid, for me, exerts great power: often I wish an entire poem could be made in this vocabulary. It is analogous to the unseen…
– Louise Glück

…Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

…Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot’s in the door.

– Sylvia Plath

It does not matter much whom we live with in this world, but it matters a great deal whom we dream of.
– Willa Cather

This was the road over which Ántonia and I came on that night when we got off the train at Black Hawk and were bedded down in the straw, wondering children…I had only to close my eyes to hear the rumbling of the wagons in the dark, and to be again overcome by that obliterating strangeness. The feelings of that night were so near that I could reach out and touch them with my hand. I had the sense of coming home to myself, and of having found out what a little circle man’s experience is.

For Ántonia and for me, this had been the road of Destiny; had taken us to those early accidents of fortune which predetermined for us all that we can ever be. Now I understood that the same road was to bring us together again. Whatever we had missed, we possessed together the precious, the incommunicable past.

– Willa Cather, My Antonia

I wanted to walk straight on through the red grass and over the edge of the world, which could not be very far away. The light and air about me told me that the world ended here: only the ground and sun and sky were left, and if one went a little farther there would only be sun and sky, and one would float off into them, like the tawny hawks which sailed over our heads making slow shadows on the grass.
– Willa Cather, My Ántonia

We all believe in something: self, nonself, an omnipotent creator, karma, science, reality, emptiness, dragons, elves. . . When we see that belief gives color to every stratum of our experience of reality, we can embrace others as kindred believers, regardless of the shades we tend to favor.
– Pamela Gayle White, Real Belief

To those accustomed to your acquiescence, your newfound voice may sound like a war cry.
– The Subversive Lens

Right now I need
to revisit the room I built for you,
the one lined with books and lit
by a single round window facing the sun …

– Kurt Luchs

Do you know how many boulders had to be ground
Down to produce one square inch of the Sahara?
Maybe the moon gave birth to Mandela’s soul.
– Robert Bly, How This Wealth Came To Be.

Ruth Wilson Gilmore said, “No abolitionist who is a true abolitionist wants to save money. What we want is for the money to be spent, to enhance, and support human life so that it can flourish in a way that doesn’t destroy the planet. We’re not about cost-savings.”
– Tamara K Nopper

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.
Birth, Youth, Adulthood, Old Age.

We love to divide the seasons –atmospheric and biological– into quartets.

But as the Red Oaks and the Wildflower Garden reminded me this morning, these divides are never solid things.

Spring flowers sometimes appear alongside Fall leaves.
The eyes of the elderly sometimes twinkle with the joy of youth.

Maybe we’re supposed to use these divisions as markers, not hard/fast rules?

Maybe our calling is to experience it all, rather than be fundamentalist with any of it?

– Eric Folkerth

She hesitates with certain emotions, stops, stares fearlessly at it, then moves with great delicacy toward it. Incremental yet passionate, moving with the weight of the luggage that has been stuffed with her past and her training and her ability to analyze and deny. It is sometimes a slow trip toward her discovery, but it is always, for me, in what I have seen, a full discovery, worth the wait, and worth various viewings.
– Tennessee Williams on Ellen Burstyn

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum — even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.
– Noam Chomsky

“Stitch it with compassion and wire”: This poem truly encapsulates my belief of why we’re here on the planet–to help repair the broken heart of the world.

Holding the Light

by Stuart Kestenbaum

Gather up whatever is
glittering in the gutter,
whatever has tumbled
in the waves or fallen
in flames out of the sky,

for it’s not only our
hearts that are broken,
but the heart
of the world as well.
Stitch it back together.

Make a place where
the day speaks to the night
and the earth speaks to the sky.
Whether we created God
or God created us

it all comes down to this:
In our imperfect world
we are meant to repair
and stitch together
what beauty there is, stitch it

with compassion and wire.
See how everything
we have made gathers
the light inside itself
and overflows? A blessing.

Be kind to the destitute. Be patient and loving toward the wicked. Be kind to the afflicted. Be gentle with the fool. Empathize with the weak and oppressed. Be especially compassionate to those who cling to concrete reality.
– Patrul Rinpoche

It is not the clear-sighted who rule the world. Great achievements are accomplished in a blessed, warm fog.
– Joseph Conrad

I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

One tends to write beyond what’s needed.
– James Schuyler

If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.
– RACHEL CARSON, The Sense of Wonder

This world ain’t
never been safe
so we build
new ones.
– Javon Johnson

I’ve been fascinated by bohemia since the rise of the hippies in 1967. I was 15 then. I’ve read up on the Greenwich Village of the 30s and the early 60s as well as North Beach here in San Francisco in the 1950s. I lived within the North Beach bohemia beginning in 1973, which was a mix of hippies, old Beats, and a handful of what used to be called plain old “bohemians” from the 30s and 40s. One thing that I’ve found is that it’s consistently the same characters. The superficial aspects are different, but the basic personages of the movements are identical.

Bohemias always get started when some people within society find conventional life so lifeless as to be unendurable. So they find a neighborhood in some city where they can experiment with lifestyles. After the core group gets something going, the hangers-on start showing up—people who are attracted to the scene, but have less commitment to the fundamental ideas. There is invariably a lot of hedonism. Bohemians believe that conventional life is too repressed and experiment not with just art or philosophy, but also with sex, drugs and alcohol. Leaders are frowned upon. It’s every man and woman for him or herself. In the long run, bohemia is simply a temporary escape from conventional life. There are usually a few hard core members who go on to create something, but end up leaving the neighborhood for someplace else. Most people have their fling and then, as they age, return to conventional life. There are also a lot of casualties: people who got too deep into drugs, women who have been abused by high-minded-talking wolves, and others who were simply fragile in the first place and got lost on the streets. I’ve known them all.

There is currently what I call a ”neo-hippie” scene in and around Santa Cruz, California. It’s the same bohemia as before, but with slightly different surface features. Three years ago, I got to know a young woman who drifted into the Santa Cruz scene and who is now in dire straits psychologically. My sense is that she is largely a victim of the wolves—men who tell her they love her, but are just looking to get laid and have no qualms whatsoever about simply dumping someone once they get bored. They are totally insincere jive artists. Through this experience, I’ve lost my fascination with bohemia and have come to hold it in contempt. It’s not that conventional society has any answers at all. But most of what bohemia produces is bullshit. There has to be another way.
– Mark Bitner

An Open Letter to Conspiracy Theorists

I’m going to start with the thesis, the punchline, the takeaway:

You’re lazy. Intellectually. Spiritually. Socially.

While scientists are methodically studying and attempting to understand clouds, you’re glibly arguing about whether the one overhead looks like a panther.

While others are spending decades of their life in school, clinical rotations, and medical practice—you’re showing up at the end, briefly squinting your eyes, then pretending you’ve overturned their tireless work because you see the amorphous outline of something you don’t even have the tools to understand.

While others are submitting their beliefs and opinions to the rigors of introspection and falsifiability, you’re floating through life as a listless leaf, pretending you’re somehow controlling the wind; pretending that wherever you land is truth. It’s admittedly uncomfortable being wrong, which is why you concoct nonsensical premises to validate your preexisting beliefs.

You are taking the path of least resistance, then through your intellectual incuriosity, creating palpable resistance for those who are pulling your dead weight. You’re sitting on the shoulders of giants, then pretending you can look down at those shaking under the weight of your staggering, willful ignorance.

You’re not a conspiracy theorist because you see something others have failed to notice and deduce; you’re a conspiracy theorist because you want the benefit and the appearance of having knowledge, wisdom, and understanding—with precisely none of the effort.

– The Subversive Lens

I invented my own Bucharest. This city did not exist before I published my books.
– Mircea Cărtărescu

We haven’t played The Impure Game for a while. It’s time to play.

about 15 years ago i was a guest teacher for a day for a class of dedicated young environmental activists, and at one point one of the students said she felt terrible because she was anti-corporate but loved professional hockey and couldn’t stop watching it.

i said, ‘that’s great!’ and came up with this game on the spot. We all went around our circle and said the thing we do that is most out of line with our general politics.

A few rules. 1) it can’t be something REALLY serious like, ‘i’ve committed seven murders.’ 2) Nothing to do in any way with sex. I don’t want to hear about your sexual or masturbatory proclivities. If you want to talk about your sexual or masturbatory proclivities do it on your own wall, not mine. 3) whatever you say, you have to say it proudly, no apologies. 4) nobody gets to judge you.

it was SO FUN. one avid environmentalist and anti-consumerist said she loves shoes, and has like 50 pair. everyone else’s were analogous. my favorite was that there was this long-time anti-corporate activist in the room, a real hero and long long long time activist, and he said that no matter his politics he loves eating at fast food restaurants. he will campaign against mcdonald’s and then stop and get a big mac and fries. i love it. it really skewers the whole purity poliltics bullshit. every person in the class had this thing they did in private and felt bad about. screw it. that’s not what resistance is about.

I’ll start. I like to bet on sports and watch the games. There are also some computer games i like (e.g., Left4Dead2, Faster Than Light, and i’m going to go all OG and say Steel Panthers and also a game called War In Europe which is an old school accurate historical board game converted to computer that i play left hand versus the right).

oh, and my fast food vice of choice are in and out burgers. the double doubles are mighty tasty.

be nice to each other, and acknowledge your impurities if you want.

– Derrick Jensen

It isn’t that I am against or unsympathetic toward the metaphysical: I’ve studied a lot of it. But in my experience, which I would call very much humanist, the great beauty of people and relationships and the operation of the world derives from our humanity–the flaws; the reaching for improvement; the recognition of our need for one another; the astounding effect of kindness, empathy, understanding, support when it is delivered. I pray sometimes, but mostly to be strong, because I know, and I hope, that people will need me and call upon me. Something Tennessee [Williams] said to you has stayed with me: ‘Don’t pray for someone when a problem is witnessed or referenced. Fix the problem as best you can. We are the answered prayer.’ All of us can be and should be the answered prayers, and I wake up thinking of how I can be of help to whatever crosses my path.
– Marian Seldes

It is in literature that the concrete outlook of humanity receives its expression.
– Alfred North Whitehead

After the Disaster
A picnic in the sequoias, light
filtered into planes, and the canopy
cut through. Fire raged in that place
one month ago. Since I’d been there,
I’d have to see it burning.
Nature of events to brush
against us like the leaves
of aspens brush against each
other in a grove full of them
carved with the initials
of people from the small weird town
hikers only like for gas. Messages
get past borders—water
across the cut stem of the sent
sunflower alive with good
intentions. People who mistake
clarity for certainty haven’t learned
that listening isn’t taking
a transcript, it’s not speech
the voice longs for, it’s something
deeper inside the throat.
Now, from the beginning, recite
the alphabet of everything
you should have wanted, silverware,
a husband, a house to live in
like a castle, but I wanted
fame among the brave.
A winter night in desert light:
trucks carving out air-corridors
of headlight on the interstate
at intervals only a vigil
could keep. Constellations
so clean you can see
the possibilities denied.
Talking about philosophy
might never be dinner
but can return
your body to a state
of wonder before sleep.
The night reduced us
to our elements.
I wanted water, and whatever
found itself unborn
in me to stay alive.
– Katie Peterson

Imagine a man without lungs. Imagine earth without Amazon rainforest.
– Vinita Kinra

The fear of not being fearful is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for people beginning inquiry. They believe that without stress, without anger, they wouldn’t act, they would just sit around with drool running down their chins. Whoever left the impression that peace isn’t active has never known peace the way I know it. I am entirely motivated without anger. The truth sets us free, and freedom acts.
– Byron Katie

I have searched
the countryside
to find something
I always had.
– Dave Harris

And anyway, for Shambhala you don’t need a passport.
– Nicholas Pierotti

Fear does not prevent death.
It prevents life.
– Naguib Mahfouz

The clearer your mind gets
the more it projects a friendly universe, until…
you haven’t had a problem for a very long time.
– Byron Katie

Those who decide to use leisure as a means of mental development, who love good music, good books, good pictures, good plays, good company, good conversation – what are they? They are the happiest people in the world..
– William Lyon Phelps

The wounded child inside many males is a boy who, when he first spoke his truths, was silenced by paternal sadism, by a patriachal world that did not want him to claim his true feelings. The wounded child inside many females is a girl who was taught from early childhood that she must become something other than herself,deny her true feelings in order to attract and please others. When men and women punish each other for truth telling, we reinforce the notion that lies are better. To be loving, we must willingly hear the other’s truth, and most important, we affirm the value of truth telling. Lies may make people feel better, but they do not help them to know love.
– Bell Hooks

Poetry sustains life…It restored me, allowed me to come back from the space of woundedness and sadness to a recognition of beauty.
– bell hooks

Amor Mundi

I didn’t know how far the world could bend
around the heart I dared to call my own,
and so I took a rainbow for a friend
yet didn’t ask it to be mine alone.

I knew that if I chased it, it would fade.
So I simply asked it to attend,
and then I left it to its own charade
where nothing could approach it but the wind.

And now I find a rainbow every hour
in gestures or in solitudes that run
around my heart as if it were a flower
enlightened by the friendship of the sun.

And what could be the moral of all this?
There is no spatial limit to a kiss.

– George Horman

You never know what worse luck
your bad luck has saved you from.
– Cormac Mccarthy, No Country for Old Men

It’s very simple to be happy, but it is very difficult to be simple.
– Rabindranth Tagore

I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal.
– E.M. Forster, A Room with a View

Word by word I am writing the night.
– Alejandra Pizarnik, from Extracting the Stone of Madness: Poems 1962-1972; Sous La Nuit

Somewhere, somebody is looking for someone exactly like you.
– Germany Kent

A realization of the truth of suffering has to be there for anyone to be motivated to take refuge in the Buddha as the guide, Dharma as the path, and Sangha as our companions. As sentient beings, whether we realize it or not, we are in a state of suffering. Therefore, in his very first teaching, the Buddha said, “Monks, realize you are in suffering.” The sooner we realize this, the better for our path.
– Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

On winter’s margin, see the small birds now
With half-forged memories come flocking home

The green globe’s broken; vines like tangled veins
Hang at the entrance to the silent wood.

But what I love, is the gray stubborn hawk
Who floats alone beyond the frozen vines;

And what I dream of are the patient deer
Who stand on legs like reeds and drink that wind;
– Mary Oliver

I’m not totally mad at you. I’m just sad. You’re all locked up in that little world of yours, and when I try knocking on the door, you just sort of look up for a second and go right back inside.
– Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

We are the last generation with a real opportunity to save the world.
– Laurence Overmire

When you meet one little being, it might be a mosquito, or pine tree, or rock, to become Buddha with each of them is your practice. Do you understand? You become Buddha with each of them. This is communicating with a being that appeared for you, to make sure you are enlightened! It is also enlightened. This is how everything is actually happening but sometimes neither one knows what is going on. Sometimes both completely know what is going on.
– Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi

When it comes to forgiveness, how you identify yourself is crucial. If you identify yourself as an injured person bound to your grudge, you will be stuck in that self-created prison. But that poor victim is not who you truly are. When your confusion is stripped away and your tsewa [tender heart] is allowed to flow freely and exuberantly, you will find in yourself the same courage and equanimity as the Dalai Lama or Dr. King. This is true for all of us without exception, for the ability to forgive and move on is one of the many gifts of tsewa.

– Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

This isn’t particularly controversial, but I think the Ring of Power in the Lord of the Rings is one of the best metaphors in all literature for the allure and costs of technology.
– Derrick Jensen

This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both,
and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy,
for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the
writing be erased. Deny it.’ cried the Spirit, stretching out
its hand towards the city. ‘Slander those who tell it ye.
Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse.
And abide the end.’
‘Have they no refuge or resource.’ cried Scrooge.
‘Are there no prisons.’ said the Spirit, turning on him
for the last time with his own words. ‘Are there no workhouses.’
– A Christmas Carol, Stave 3: The Second of the Three Spirits

Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.
– Eddie Cantor


Whomever Mary really was, her presence in the Christmas story symbolizes that women do not need permission from the patriarchy to give their gift.

Whomever the three Wise Ones really were, their presence in the Christmas story means truth is bigger than any one religion.

Whomever Herod really was, his presence in the Christmas story means that domination and empire are always on the wrong side of history.

Whomever the owner of the manger really was, their presence in the Christmas story means even those trapped in the system can still give an important gift towards the liberation of the world.

Whomever the angels really were, their presence in the Christmas story means the real message of this season is peace on earth and goodwill to ALL.

Whomever Joseph really was, his presence in the Christmas narrative means none of us need be left out of the story.

– Jim Rigby

For when cynicism becomes the default language, playfulness and invention become impossible. Cynicism scours through a culture like bleach, wiping out millions of small, seedling ideas. Cynicism means your automatic answer becomes “No.” Cynicism means you presume everything will end in disappointment. And this is, ultimately, why anyone becomes cynical. Because they are scared of disappointment. Because they are scared someone will take advantage of them. Because they are fearful their innocence will be used against them – that when they run around gleefully trying to cram the whole world in their mouth, someone will try to poison them.
– Caitlin Moran

Winter, Wintering, listen: I think of you
long gone now

through the valley, scissoring
your ancient way

through the pitch pines. Not waiting, but the great elk
in the dark door. Not ravens

where they stay, awhile, in furor,
but the lost thing backing out

among the saplings, dancing off the madness
of its antlers. Not stone, not cold

stone, but fire. The wild thing, musk-blooded, at my open
door, wakening and wakening and

wakening, migrations
in the blindness of its wild eyes,

saying Look at them, look at how they have to.
Do something with the wildness that confounds you.
– Joseph Fasano

But time has got very slippery these days. Days, weeks, months and years merge into one another. Images will pop up of work trips to the US, or Australia in the Photos widget on my phone and not only will I struggle to remember when the trip happened, the very fact that it did is becoming increasingly unreal.

All I know with any certainty is that I get up, stuff happens, and I go to sleep, over and over again. The past is a dream that I have here and now, the future a fantasy that likewise is a figment of my imagination that I experience here and now.”
– Euan Semple

Mostly we hear from people who survive difficulties or break through barriers and the fact that they did so is often used to suggest the difficulties or barriers were not so very serious or that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Not everyone makes it through, and what tries to kill you takes a lot of your energy that might be better used elsewhere and makes you tired and anxious.
– Rebecca Solnit

As long as we don’t die, this is gonna be one hell of a story.
– John Green

A Thousand Errors
In looking back at the year, I am marveled by all the ways that I got things backward, put my foot in my mouth and slipped up. It is not hard to recount all the ways that I have flubbed, muffed up, bungled my words, and misjudged others. As a parent, a spouse, a teacher, a citizen of the world, in this year alone—2021—I have made countless blunders. You too?

You see, a life well lived is a life full of mistakes. The problem comes when you or I start punishing ourselves for each and every small flub. In the interior recesses of the self condemning mind, a botched or bungled situation is equal to burning the whole house down. As a result we get crippled by the fear of failure, that is the fear of not getting things right. This is why I love the little Chan saying, “a thousand errors, ten thousand mistakes.” It is a reminder that the flub-asana is normal, an everyday occurrence, par for the course.

John Cage once said, “A ‘mistake’ is beside the point, for once anything happens it authentically is.” It is a good re-minder. At some point you have to let things be. But I have known many adults (and children!) who are petrified of making mistakes. This fear strangles the creative expression known as shakti, the anima, the joie-de-vivre.

We all could benefit from welcoming our mis-takes and integrating them into our flow. Like the art of Japanese wabi-sabi where the imperfection of the tea cup or the oddity of the calligrapher’s line is integrated into the overall expression of the form. If we cannot embrace our own wabi-sabiness then we get stranded on the island of perfection. If we expect that we will get everything just right (whatever that may be) then we pull ourselves out of our own flow and as a result feel clunky, restrained, held captive inside.

But the real flare and color of a life well lived comes from a willingness to do the botch-asana. When you realize that blunders are as normal as breathing, then you can lean forward and live life to the fullest. Master the art of erring and you can be free.
– Tias Little

We respond to this question through our deeds, through the action of writing. We know that to answer it directly would be impertinent, not necessary, but we also recognize that imagination has to struggle with the dragon of time afresh each day. Time brings about new things, good and bad; we must ascertain them. Time kills people and civilizations; we must save them, to remember them in poetry. We understand that the ongoing war between imagination and time (alas, a war that will never be won) cannot end, that we cannot turn, all of us, into historians of poetry and content ourselves with reading old poets. Poetry must be written, continued, risked, tried, revised, erased, and tried again as long as we breathe and love, doubt and believe. We always remember, of course, that we write our poems in the gigantic shadow of the dead and that we should be humble, at least in those long hours when we do not compose. (Being too humble in the very moment of creation would not be very wise.)
We need to go on, paying the price, sometimes, of being not only imperfect but even, who knows, arrogant and ridiculous.
– Adam Zagajewski

The cat sits on the back of the sofa looking
out the window through the softly falling snow
at the last bit of gray light.

I can’t say the sun is going down.
We haven’t seen the sun for two months.
Who cares?

I am sitting in the blue chair listening to this stillness.
The only sound: the occasional gurgle of tea
coming out of the pot and into the cup.

How can this be?
Such calm, such peace, such solitude
in this world of woe.

– David Budbill

One of the last things the Buddha said, when he passed out of this life, was “transient are all conditions.” Everything that arises—this life, this mayfly, this flower, this mountain, and most importantly this life—anything that’s a created thing, passes. Then he said to be confident about the future. Let the future arise in confidence. I love that!

I’ve said many times that there is really only one Dharma talk: Life is complex and challenging all the time from the beginning to the end. But it’s manageable, it’s doable. And it’s possible to celebrate it because it’s magnificent and awesome and interesting.
– Sylvia Boorstein

I like to live in the sound of water,
in the feel of mountain air. A sharp
reminder hits me: this world is still alive,
it stretches out there shivering toward its own
creation, and I’m part of it. Even my breathing

enters into this elaborate give-and-take,
this bowing to sun and moon, day or night,
winter, summer, storm, still – this tranquil
chaos that seems to be going somewhere.
This wilderness with a great peacefulness in it.
This motionless turmoil, this everything dance.
– William Stafford

You are not here
to save the world.
You are here to discover
that you Are the world.

You are compassion.
You are perfect healing.
In you the mountains
are lighter than the sky.

Don’t try to understand this.
Just fall in love with
yourself in every
pair of eyes.

And however you may worship
take a blessed breath
of this newborn light
that is never even one
moment old.

– Alfred K. Lamotte

Whenever you meet a stranger in winter,
whether you’re shuffling through slush,
or slouched in a plastic seat on the bus,
lift up your gaze from below your cap
to look in his eyes for the tiny candle
that you’ve heard poets speak of,
some glimmer of humor or honeyed delight
that re-ignites when we greet each other,
spreading its light into concentric circles,
ever widening. Imagine a rush hour bus
aglow inside from the tiny candles in all of us,
each one relit by someone who dared to look up
and smile at another instead of just looking away –
seeing at last not another brown coat in a seat,
but a human, illuminated, a sliver of divinity.

– Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

The doctrine of The Jewel Net of Indra forms the core of Hua-Yen Buddhism. It teaches that the cosmos is like an infinite network of glittering jewels, all different. In each one we can see the images of all the others reflected. Each image contains an image of all the other jewels; and also the image of the images of the images, and so ad infinitum.

The myriad reflections within each jewel are the essence of the jewel itself, without which it does not exist. Thus, every part of the cosmos reflects, and brings into existence, every other part. Nothing can exist unless it enfolds within its essence the nature of everything else.

– Richard Lubbock

It’s so delicate, the light.
And there’s so little of it.
The dark is huge.
Just delicate needles, the light,
In an endless night.
And it has such a long way to go
through such desolate space.
So let’s be gentle with it.
Cherish it.
So it will come again
in the morning.
We hope.
– Rolf Jacobsen

My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate – the genetic and neural fate – of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death. I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.
– Oliver Sacks, Gratitude

I could write a guidebook about this city, this fallen city. Street by street, house by house, church by church. What happened in this building, who was betrayed, and by whom, in this apartment, who waited for whom on this street corner. And why the person never came.
– Adam Zagajewski

If you have seen the snow
under the lamppost
piled up like a white beaver hat on the picnic table
or somewhere slowly falling
into the brook
to be swallowed by water,
then you have seen beauty
and know it for its transience.
And if you have gone out in the snow
for only the pleasure
of walking barely protected
from the galaxies,
the flakes settling on your parka
like the dust from just-born stars,
the cold waking you
as if from long sleeping,
then you can understand
how, more often than not,
truth is found in silence,
how the natural world comes to you
if you go out to meet it,
its icy ditches filled with dead weeds,
its vacant birdhouses, and dens
full of the sleeping.
But this is the slowed down season
held fast by darkness
and if no one comes to keep you company
then keep watch over your own solitude.
In that stillness, you will learn
with your whole body
the significance of cold
and the night,
which is otherwise always eluding you.
– Patricia Fargnoli

Where I am, bicycles have no wheels.
Figs have no trees. The protests
in the streets have no protestors.
The garbage bins are lidless.

Firecrackers, incidentally,
have no wicks. Rats have no
hammocks, and fish aren’t able
to read. Do you see, now,
how different it is here?

My clothes are soaked
but they are clean. I pull them on
and walk through the park
where the temperature has
no limit. I lie back in the grass
that has no ants, peer
into the sky that has no birds.

But the clouds here, I haven’t
yet mentioned the clouds here:
they sing these very personal songs
about wronging and being
wronged. They smoke a lot
of cigarettes. You can hear it.
And I sing along though I have
no voice. I sing with my eyes.
– Stuart Ross

It is hard to have hope. It is harder as you grow old,
for hope must not depend on feeling good
and there’s the dream of loneliness at absolute midnight.
You also have withdrawn belief in the present reality
of the future, which surely will surprise us,
and hope is harder when it cannot come by prediction
anymore than by wishing. But stop dithering.
The young ask the old to hope. What will you tell them?
Tell them at least what you say to yourself.

Because we have not made our lives to fit
our places, the forests are ruined, the fields, eroded,
the streams polluted, the mountains, overturned. Hope
then to belong to your place by your own knowledge
of what it is that no other place is, and by
your caring for it, as you care for no other place, this
knowledge cannot be taken from you by power or by wealth.
It will stop your ears to the powerful when they ask
for your faith, and to the wealthy when they ask for your land
and your work. Be still and listen to the voices that belong
to the stream banks and the trees and the open fields.

Find your hope, then, on the ground under your feet.
Your hope of Heaven, let it rest on the ground underfoot.
The world is no better than its places. Its places at last
are no better than their people while their people
continue in them. When the people make
dark the light within them, the world darkens.

– Wendell Berry

This body is not me. I am not caught in this body.
I am life without boundaries.
I have never been born, and I shall never die.
Look at the ocean and the sky filled with stars,
manifestations of my wondrous true mind.

Since before time, I have been free.
Birth and death are only doors through which we pass,
sacred thresholds on our journey.
Birth and death are just a game of hide and seek.

So laugh with me,
hold my hand,
let us say goodye,
say goodbye, to meet again soon.

We meet today.
We will meet again tomorrow.
We will meet at the source at every moment.
We meet each other in all forms of life.

– Thich Nhat Hanh

We need to separate
to see the life we’ve made,
to leave our house
where someone waits, patiently,
warm beneath the sheets;
to don layers of armor,
sweater, coat, mittens, scarf,
to stride down the frozen road,
putting distance between us,
this cold winter morning,
to look back and see,
on the hilltop, our life,
lit from inside.
– Laura Foley

Awe is an intuition for the dignity of all things, a realization that things not only are what they are but also stand, however remotely, for something supreme. Awe is a sense for the transcendence, for the reference everywhere to mystery beyond all things. It enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine . . . to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal. What we cannot comprehend by analysis, we become aware of in awe.”
– Abraham Joshua Heschel

The moment I die
I will try to come back to you
as quickly as possible.
I promise it will not take long.
Isn’t it true
I am already with you
as I die each moment?
I come back to you
in every moment.
Just look,
feel my presence.
If you want to cry,
please cry,
And Know
that I will cry with you.
The tears you shed
will heal us both.
Your tears and mine.
The earth I tread this morning
transcends history.
Spring and Winter are both present in the moment.
The young leaf and the old leaf are really one.
My feet touch deathlessness,
And my feet are yours.
Walk with me now.
Let us enter the dimension of oneness
and see the cherry tree blossom in Winter.
Why should we talk about death?
I don’t need to die
to be back with you.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

I am a continuation, like the rain is the continuation of a cloud.

Wisdom is a living stream, not an icon preserved in a museum. Only when we find the spring of wisdom in our own life can it flow to future generations.

I am often on the verge of tears or laughter. But beneath all these emotions, what else is there? How can I touch it? If there isn’t anything, why would I be so certain that there is?

The moment I met Martin Luther King, Jr., I knew I was in the presence of a holy person. Not just his good work, but his very being was a source of great inspiration for me… On the altar in my hermitage in France are images of Buddha and Jesus, and every time I light incense, I touch both of them as my spiritual ancestors… In Vietnam, we refer to Dr. King as a “Bodhisattva,” an enlightened being devoted to serving humanity…


I hold my face in my two hands

No, I am not crying.

I hold my face in my two hands

to keep the loneliness warm–

two hands protecting

two hands nourishing,

two hands preventing

my soul from leaving me

in anger.

Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible.

– Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk
From Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers

Everything that the pencil says is erasable,
Unlike our voices, whose words are black and permanent,
Smudging our lives like coal dust,
unlike our memories,
Etched like a skyline against the mind,
– Charles Wright

Stories can change lives, if we’re not careful.
They will come in and take the shirts off our backs.
Tell the right stories and we live better lives.
– Ali Smith

January’s drop-down menu
leaves everything to the imagination:
splotch the ice, splice the light,
remake the spirit…

Just get on with it,
doing what you have to do
with the gray palette that lies
to hand. The sun’s coming soon.

A future, then, of warmth and runoff,
and old faces surprised to see us.
A cache of love, I’d call it,
opened up, vernal, refreshed.

– Sidney Burris

What moves inside of you? Are you swaddling yourself in the arms of the ones nearest you? Are you taking time to reflect on the hue of the light at dawn? Are you taking time to feel the brush of your breath along your spine? At year’s end we reflect with gratitude on all that has transpired. That means finding a way to embrace all the gain and all the loss, things that slid off course and things that stayed in place.

Like the very breath we breathe, each day includes filling and emptying, expansion and contraction, drawing in and letting go. Accepting what is continues to be a most essential practice, yet always the most formidable. Can we be with time, or should we say in time, as it unfolds, neither grasping nor rejecting? Can we let time move through us like oxygen molecules slithering through the bloodstream?

“The Tao in the world is like a river flowing home to the sea,” reads the old, time tested, Tao te Ching. When we stop resisting the slipstream of time we are in the flow itself. This is the Big Letting Go. Can you let it take you into the next year and beyond?

– Tias Little

In all the aeons we have lost nothing, we have gained nothing – not a speck, not a grain, not a breath. The universe is simply a sealed, twisting kaleidoscope that has reordered itself a trillion trillion trillion times over.
Each baby, then, is a unique collision – a cocktail, a remix – of all that has come before: made from molecules of Napoleon and stardust and comets and whale tooth; colloidal mercury and Cleopatra’s breath: and with the same darkness that is between the stars between, and inside, our own atoms.
When you know this, you suddenly see the crowded top deck of the bus, in the rain, as a miracle: this collection of people is by way of a starburst constellation. Families are bright, irregular-shaped nebulae. Finding a person you love is like galaxies colliding. We are all peculiar, unrepeatable, perambulating micro-universes – we have never been before and we will never be again. Oh God, the sheer exuberant, unlikely face of our existences. The honour of being alive. They will never be able to make you again. Don’t you dare waste a second of it thinking something better will happen when it ends. Don’t you dare.
– Caitlin Moran

In the north country now it is spring and there
Is a certain celebration. The thrush
Has come home. He is shy and likes the
Evening best, also the hour just before
Morning; in that blue and gritty light he
Climbs to his branch, or smoothly
Sails there. It is okay to know only
One song if it is this one. Hear it
Rise and fall; the very elements of you should
Shiver nicely. What would spring be
Without it? Mostly frogs. But don’t worry, he

Arrives, year after year, humble and obedient
And gorgeous. You listen and you know
You could live a better life than you do, be
Softer, kinder. And maybe this year you will
Be able to do it. Hear how his voice
Rises and falls. There is no way to be
Sufficiently grateful for the gifts we are
Given, no way to speak the Lord’s name
Often enough, though we do try, and

Especially now, as that dappled breast
Breathes in the pines and heaven’s
Windows in the north country,
Now spring has come,
Are opened wide.

– Mary Oliver

by Ari Banias
My view has a sooty cathedral in it.
Often I pass a fountain
with the face of a merman
about to spit water through
chipped lower lip but
holding it in. There will be
another postcard rack.
Another stall at the market
displaying African wax prints
on tote bags, dresses, broad skirts
sold by a white man. I copy a list
of French colonies and their dates
into a blank white notebook.
On a bed of ice lay
haphazard piles of silver-gray fish. “The eye
should be clear,” said my mother.
I don’t want to look
at the eye. What’s visible
from inside a Brutalist building.
Institutional green
linoleum tiles c. 1961, of a sturdy kind
the year my mother emigrates.
What’s visible alongside
the nearly motionless canal.
Alongside a river
brownish-green, predictable,
like a few-weeks fling
that soon splits in two directions.
Irrepressible bodies of water
surrounded by buildings from centuries prior
whose filigrees gather soot
as excess definition.
Wreathed in trash
something classical
and repulsive endures.
The exterior of the famous museum
once a fortress
is power washed
behind large scaffolds fitted with tarps
screenprinted to mimic
the exterior of the famous museum.
One vertical band of newly washed portion
bare and ridiculous beside the
car-crammed thoroughfare. Piss
against trees and walls and the seams where walls meet
trickles and stinks like a moat.
In a concavity where the likeness
of another wealthy person once stood
pigeons sit.
The oxidized face
of a statue of some goddess
streaked in it.
In the gay club the dancer showers in front of us live
behind glass coyly
not revealing his dick
while screens project him digitized
in slight distortion on either side of him.
He snaps a small white towel
in front of himself and keeps it up
against the glass with his own weight.
Under this dancefloor
across from the bathrooms
a red room cordoned off.
It doesn’t have to be there to be there.
At the market’s end
split tomatoes, nectarines
so soft they’re left for free.

Heart Space

In this body, in this town of spirit,
there is a little house shaped like a lotus,
and in that little house there is a space.

One should know what is there.
What is there? Why is it so important?

There is as much within that
little space within the heart
as in the whole world.

Heaven, earth,
winds, fire,
sun, moon,
lightning, stars…

Whatever is, and whatever is not,
everything is here.

– Chandogya Upanishad

You’re Here
You’re not here
to save the world.
You’re here to discover
that you Are the world.
You are compassion.
You are perfect healing.
In you the mountains
are lighter than the sky.
Don’t try to understand this.
Just fall in love with
yourself in every
pair of eyes.
– Alfred K. LaMotte

Filling my Purse with Commas
by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

All afternoon, each time
I think I should hurry,
I pull out a comma,

such humble punctuation,
and invite it into the moment—
and the comma does

what it always does, which
is to invite a pause, a small pause,
of course, but a pause long enough

to breathe, to notice what else
is happening, a slight
suggestion that right here

is a perfect place to rest,
yes, how funny I never noticed
before that the comma itself

looks as if it’s bowing, nodding
its small dark head to what is,
encouraging us to find

a brief silence and then,
thus refreshed, to go on.

The Rest
by Lawrence Raab

You’ve tried the rest.
You’ve waited long enough.
Everything catches up with you.

And you’re too old,
or too young.
Or you don’t have the money

or you don’t have the time.
Maybe you’re shy, and maybe
you’re just afraid.

How often have you heard it,
have you promised
yourself you’d try

something really different
if you had the chance?
Though you can’t help but wonder

if all those people
know what they’re doing, now
you’re saying it with them:

Eventually everything
catches up with us,
and it starts to show.

We’ve waited all our lives, or as long
as we can remember, whichever
is long enough.

I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward.

There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.

– Nelson Mandela

By Jericho Brown
The water is one thing, and one thing for miles.
The water is one thing, making this bridge
Built over the water another. Walk it
Early, walk it back when the day goes dim, everyone
Rising just to find a way toward rest again.
We work, start on one side of the day
Like a planet’s only sun, our eyes straight
Until the flame sinks. The flame sinks. Thank God
I’m different. I’ve figured and counted. I’m not crossing
To cross back. I’m set
On something vast. It reaches
Long as the sea. I’m more than a conqueror, bigger
Than bravery. I don’t march. I’m the one who leaps.

There is really nothing more to say except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.
– Toni Morrison

Men go abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty billows of the sea, the broad tides of rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the circuits of the stars, and pass themselves by.
– St. Augustine

The Way is akin to an academy or college without walls, a virtual institution of learning constituted by various circles of students, teachers, and an archive of circulating texts defining its history, traditions, and models.
– Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen

Follow the Creative.
Return to the Creative.
– Bashō

Four Lyrical Essays


KĘSTUTIS NAVAKAS is a poet, essayist, literary critic, and translator. He won the Jotvingian Poetry Prize in 2006 and was a laureate of the National Prize for Culture and the Arts in 2007. These essays are drawn from his book Gero gyvenimo kronikos. They were initially written for a newspaper column in Kaunas during the mid-1990s, when the art of the lyrical essay had a rebirth in the aftermath of independence.

The Ordinary Person

Once upon a time, in one of the most ordinary cities in the center of Europe, there lived an ordinary person.

This sentence would be enough, for it contains all one needs to know of the ordinary person, all of his body and soul. Nevertheless, an essay of one sentence is obviously too short, so come on, ordinary person, get up out of bed and get under our microscope! For you are microscopic – the smallest particle of nature that exists is your soul.

Heinrich Heine once wrote that under every memorial stone lies the history of the world. In so writing, he forgot the ordinary person, under whose gravestone there lies an important piece of the world’s demographic. Essentially, this person lives under a gravestone, without many signs to show that he still exists at all – doing something somewhere, sitting in a corner on a stool, invisible to the naked eye. He surfaces only when someone is run over. But even then no one comes to identify the remains, and he lies alone under the mortician’s chainsaw. Life goes on: outside the window children play nice games of jump rope and “My Father Drank Today.”

There are three other things that pull the ordinary person out into daylight: parliamentary elections, TV game shows, and – in pathological cases – love. He is rarely seen in elections either, but rather felt – after the fact, when the results are added up. The results are surprising not just to us, but to the political forecasters too. It appears our predictions and conscientious efforts went quietly to the dogs, and we elected the wrong government. This is the best evidence that the ordinary person still exists, still has a voice (doubtfully, in a musical sense), and that he is inclined to give it to the first collective-farm manager he meets. He is an ordinary person – you can’t tell him anything.

This giving is a generous act, for the voice is often the only real wealth of the ordinary person, and also because he usually gets nothing in exchange for it. In fact, he can’t get anything. But there are places where he can – lotteries and game shows.

Here one can get all kinds of things – from a Škoda Felicia1 to a greasy fig.2 The latter he owns himself, and pays attention to the aforementioned collective manager in order to orient it towards the greatest return. The ordinary person squirms about on camera, mumbles something or other, and look – he wins. You see, his competitors are even more ordinary; for them, just to be on screen is a significant event. They will talk about the experience for a long time, pointing at the screen: “I was there,” they will say.

For others, it suffices to see the ordinary person on TV, for the whole world’s ordinariness and all the ordinary people fit into one ordinary person. When one wins, all of them (potentially) win. They clap their hands, switch the channel, and watch Maria Celeste3, who is also like them because she cries for absolutely unambiguous reasons.

The most interesting phenomenon of all is the ordinary person’s love. It is often accidental. He falls in love with whoever is on hand; commonly, that would be neighbors, nurses or service workers. If such a love falls to a bookstore clerk, the ordinary person will loiter by her counter, ask about the turnover, try to discuss some writer, most likely Marcinkevičius; and when she goes to hide in the storeroom, he will make a fist of his giant twelve-litas potential and ask her out for coffee. She will refuse; she is not ordinary; she sells books. In those books, she read about the danger of accidental connections, so she would only go for coffee with a non-ordinary person: the Dalai Lama, Stallone, Juocevičius. But the ordinary person will loiter by the counter the next day as well. And the next – until he finally wears a hole in the floor. In his eyes, whole libraries will be sold out.

The bookstore clerk is the Blue Dream of the ordinary person. Individuals of lesser imagination generally flirt with food staff. Themes for conversation are laid out here as well, on the other side of the refrigerated glass. Once the themes have been discussed, it’s possible to acquire them, take them home and then unequivocally become one with them. The next day, relations with the clerk will be on a more practical level, and she respects that. And the twelve litai squeezed in the fist can turn out well.

In the same way that tele-game shows can result in the ordinary person becoming tele-rich, so too, love can sometimes help him turn from ordinary to un-ordinary, crossing class boundaries, changing the chemical makeup. He even begins to write letters, carrying at all times on his tongue a postage stamp for local mail. The word “love” in his letters is written calligraphically and underlined with a ruler.

Nevertheless, love for such a person rarely ends well; the letter gets stuck in the middle of the page, and the pen and ruler travel along more usual roads – filling out utility bills. The utility inspector moves into the ordinary person’s dreams, knowing everything about him: address, telephone, gas and electric usage, and so on. The utilities inspector is to the ordinary person what the wolf was to Little Red Riding Hood. Sometimes he dreams that he lives inside his inspector’s shaggy belly.

Artists also take an interest in the phenomenon of the ordinary person; they travel through the countryside, where Birutė’s song resounds, through towns where there is the song of Džordana,4 stubbornly looking for that person; and when they find someone similar, they fall to writing, photographing, and carving wood. Nevertheless, it is difficult to find the ordinary person; he is a virtuoso of mimicry, melding so well with his environment that, apparently, even the air blocks our sight of him. Thus, in creative works we see the ordinary person’s diluted surrogate. Acorn coffee.

The historical mission of the ordinary person in the computer age is not at all clear. There are those who still think the ordinary person is an absolute double of life, who sits for decades on the same bench. In this way, he generously returns us to the original meanings of words, to the feeling of the importance of elementary phenomena. On his lips, words (not only “table,” “bottle,” “galoshes,” “Vycka-Ecka,”5 and so on) have least distanced themselves from the objects they describe, and they are the best guarantee of the continuation of civilization, showing that the world is still strongly supported on its foundations, that our homes are not yet hanging in the air, that they have not sailed off among the clouds. They are only just intending to rise and sail away.

1 A car made in the Czech Republic.
2 “taukuota špyga”: literally, “greasy fig,” an insulting hand gesture common to parts of eastern and southern Europe.
3 A popular soap opera of the mid-90s from Venezuela.
4 Džordana Butkutė was a pop singer popular in the 1990s.
5 “Vycka” and “Ecka” are used as names of characters in various jokes and anecdotes.

The Universe of Things

Clothes make the man, according to the well-known saying. Clothes mark a person’s economic and social status, origin and class, taste or lack thereof. In clothes we see the wearer’s mood or reflections of disappointments, his daily aura, even his view of the rest of the world – of what is not him, what is full of other people and other clothes. That world was made not by God or Darwin, but by Benetton, Levi-Strauss, and Christian Dior. Clothes live in that world. They sleep in closets like forgotten lovers, and sometimes they climb off their hangers and walk the avenues, wearing their people.

People are not important to clothes. The only features of concern to clothes are height, the length of arms, the circumference of the neck and chest, and so on. Clothes are indifferent to us, like nature itself. Sometimes it seems as if they are a piece of nature, that they grow on trees.

This assertion is not just something taken down from the rafters, because the forefather of all clothes was the fig leaf. Two fig leaves once covered the strategically important areas of the bodies of Adam and Eve. And when they began the line of humanity, there weren’t any pants or skirts by the side of the bed, but two fig leaves. By morning, they had already managed to wither, whereas pants and skirts don’t wither. Maybe that’s why they took leaves out of circulation. When is the last time you wore a fig leaf, dear reader? The day before, you say? Well, speak, then speak…

Clothes are obvious, far more obvious than people. People hide in them, like water in a faucet. Clothes know how to sacrifice themselves, hiding people’s defects while revealing their own at the same time. Seemingly, they hide nothing from us, except for the lining, the labels, and ourselves. Nevertheless, a passerby goes and drops a handkerchief. Then the whole illusion of the candor of clothes falls apart. After all – whence that handkerchief?

It turns out that clothes have their secret life and carry it in their pockets. The clothing is just the viewable part of the iceberg: everything else goes into the pockets. Whatever we want can hide in pockets, from the keys to a Mercedes to a greasy fig. Speaking to a person with many pockets, you feel like you’re reading a book from which censors have cut three-quarters of the text.

It’s a good thing that the number of pockets isn’t infinite, otherwise people would stuff the whole world into them. What percentage of the world is already inside pockets? No one has counted, though that research direction has strategic promise. Industry is already turning towards the pocket format. There are already not only photographs, books, and currency carried in pockets, but telephones, video cameras, and dogs.

It’s naive to think that telephones should sit on a table, books on shelves, and dogs by the doghouse. Everything in your pockets! Even a thousand-some shoemakers in a factory sit in their boss’s pockets. Granted, he doesn’t carry them around: the pocket is a broad concept.

The word “pocket” is exemplified in the Contemporary Lithuanian Dictionary by the phrase: “He lives out of his father’s pocket.” We can imagine how the father comes home from the shoe factory and hangs his coat on the chairback. Then, said person, as described in the dictionary, sneaks up, sticks his hand in the pocket and – lives. There would have to be Social Security payments aplenty in the pocket to ensure such a life. The dictionary guarantees it.

How many pockets does the average Lithuanian citizen have? Probably around fifty. So, at the end of the twentieth century in Lithuania, there are about 200 million pockets. There is something put into every one of them, or there was, or there will be. A staggering potential, like the Donets Basin mines or the Berlin supermarket KaDeWe.

“Buying pockets”: a perfect ad in the city newspaper, showing that the buyer has lots of little things. Exactly those kinds of people are usually interesting to talk to, to invite home for tea. Attention to little things reveals a high level of education and subtle tastes. For a person of truly subtle taste there will never be enough pockets.

The bliss of using pockets is sometimes sullied by various troubles, of which there are three: geographical, criminal, and rebellious. In the geographical sense, pockets can be as disorienting as the Kalahari Desert. The more we have of them, the more likely we are to lose things in them, like keys or 50 USD. Search all you want. You’re just making the dogs bark, according to the dictionary. The Atlas of all Pockets would help, but without it, one is left to follow one’s intuition: don’t start looking for a wrench in your smoking jacket or for a revolver in your jeans. Intuition whispers they are not there.

There is only one criminal enemy of pockets – the pickpocket. In Lithuania, a couple of hundred wallets are pulled out per month. A pickpocket only needs three seconds to perform this act. When we multiply these numbers, we see that a pickpocket keeps his hands in our pockets for ten minutes a month. Too long, obviously too long. Municipalities should ponder this problem, create pickpocket police units, and the representatives of such units should periodically check citizens’ pockets – just in case someone has managed to pull something out of them already.

The final and greatest enemies of pockets are the little things themselves. They are mobile, dynamic, and easily bored with lying still. They take up a quiet resistance and slowly unravel the totalitarian structure of pockets. They unravel a hole and spill into the lining. Then you can look till doomsday for your ring with the fake diamond or a desperately needed girl’s telephone number written down on an orange rind. They are gone, escaped to freedom. The world has already forgotten them. After that, Granny Lionė comes by with a needle sticking out of a spool of gray thread and sews up the hole like some light at the end of the tunnel.

Nevertheless, an empty pocket is a sad sight, like an empty bottle of wine. It calls out for new content. It has nothing but form, place, emptiness. Without its little things, it is without a soul. So, all the more quickly, I’ll wind up this essay, fold it, and put it in my pocket. Let the pocket read. Let it live.

The Solitude of Cafes

Fortunetellers like the ace of hearts. When they work with dreams, they prefer the dream book of Greater Egypt. In a similar manner, fortunetellers who work with coffee grounds prefer Turkish coffee. It has the grounds, the fate: happiness or ruin. Ruddy runes cover JIESIA porcelain.

I never liked the Turkish way of making coffee. It is mute; and sitting with your back to the bar, nothing will reveal the birth of a new cup of coffee. A new customer: a new serving of coffee diluted with loneliness. Older machines, sputtering and wheezing, immediately force you to prick up your ears. How many servings? Two promise a comfortable cooing at a neighboring table, three – the lively tone of spinsters’ laughter, for whom life has already been fully tasted and filled, and who have learned to spend lunch breaks with zest. The apparatus’s long series of spurting sounds promises a youth in jeans who has nowhere to sit; he will chirp about that, as you yourself chirped a decade and a half ago, and every passerby on the avenue will look like Proust, carrying lost time.

Still, there is one more kind of sputtering that is like the cut of a sword, under which the head of a solitary person at the next table will fall. You will rise before it rolls away, and the corners of your eyes will meet the corners of his eyes. Yes, you are both emigrants; yearning has destroyed your homes, but even here you are not two. You are one, and he is one. The coffee machine gifts you with a thousand seconds of merely offhand neighborliness.

Coffee is not a drink. Coffee is a ritual, one of our cosmopolitan features. In its gregarious meaning it is conversation, the eventual touching of fingers on the table’s horizontal, the last gulp of fear before the conversation ends. An invitation to coffee is an invitation to a micro-model of Paris. It is the possibility that an awaited miracle will take place. You will go for coffee and read to each other for a long time, sharing the poets who’ve amazed you, or you will kiss until five in the morning with “Shocking Blue” on the stereo. After that, you will be surprised to feel fatally in love, yet the invitation to coffee will never come again.

This will mean that while, for the other person, half a cup was enough, you went and dove to the bottom, getting lost in the grounds. The coffee of solitude will remain, where we found you at the beginning of this essay.

To this cup, people come from different sides. From one side come those seeking a brief escape from telephones, wives, neighborhood girls, and dogs, from overstretched habits like bottomless bags. These are the reasons people go fishing, fix cars, and dig up gardens. They want to experience contraband, forbidden (in the home) solitude, solitude strengthened fourfold by all the colors and smells of their escape. That kind of person, with the last gulp of coffee in his mouth, is chased home by the clock, whose long directional arrows turn over his head. Without any special warning, his door shuts.

From the other side of the cup, the pure products of nature come to drink. Sumerians died out thousands of years ago; the Jotvingian swamps swallowed the armies of the Crusaders; and later on, the forms of civilization changed with ever-shorter intervals. Yet cuneiform writing, shouted from the primordial mouth, still pursues the solitary person in the street. Cities are not built for the lonely, and they wait for the city’s reflections to turn over in the cup. The cup of coffee situates a person like that – his time and place of wandering become concrete. He can stop and look around.

“Give me a place to stand, and I will move the world,” said Archimedes. The coffee cup is a place to stand, and the world really does begin to move, tearing off its anonymity like a pharaoh’s mummy slowly unwound. Fragments of conversation, glances from neighboring tables, details of clothing -all of them are signs showing that the world still exists and that somewhere within it there will be a place for you. You drink the atmosphere, becoming more and more possible -not anyone’s dream – until finally, you feel like Jean-Baptiste Grenouille from the novel Perfume: you have gathered all the possible perfumes except for one – your own. It is impossible to get to know you: a substitute for coffee steam. Your yearning lacks concrete characteristics. If you would unbutton your shirt, there would be yawning emptiness underneath. A great shard of emptiness.

Palaver. This is all a lot of pointless chatter you think up while pushing your coffee around the table. You used to collect stamps, dreaming of traveling to those multicolored countries – to all of them at once! Now you collect your palaver, wanting it to dissolve you, trying to distance duty and responsibility. And that coffee – yet another means of avoiding action, an attempt to take Eve’s apple away so that the world would remain un-begun. And if I have guessed this all correctly – you pay for my coffee; if not – I’ll get out of here in time. Though, I’ve never managed to get out in time.

So grab your cup and come sit close by: I see your fortune in the grounds of your eyes.

You once dreamed at night that you were not there, that not one finger could touch you under the sheet, that not one candle could illuminate your face. You are doomed to a bodiless wandering in the city streets, looking for the smallest sign that you have been here before. Your number is not in a single address book. Not one book writes anything important for you. And just as it seems you have found something, in the slightest context of actual life, you disappear again like a shadow in sun. Only in the coffee cup do you find your face, and from it you blow yourself up like a giant bubble. Solitary. Yes. Nevertheless.

Those two over there, cooing at the next table. They are drowning in each other’s habits. They are, to each other, illusions that they eat up with large bites. One without the other, they are equally alone – even lonelier, because then they have no alternative context.

The three spinsters have nothing but their work and fleeting informational themes over the table: “and she says…” Their solitude is sublimated: they don’t even want to take a vacation. Wherever would they go?

And the youth in jeans, pouring himself a birthday champagne under the table? In mood and demeanor he feigns depth, but his words never manage to convey it. After every phrase there is either emptiness or simulation.

And your “Shocking Blue” girl, to whom you were the paragon of chivalry? That episode was nothing but a mirror reflecting your eternal yearning for the feminine, the blink of an eye that blinded you because it was just a bit brighter than the others. Will you sacrifice an army of trouble to conquer your mirage?

It’s not strange to see you get up and leave with that smile. Letting romance run makes the world comfortably real. And everything becomes possible. Even a second cup of coffee late on Christmas Eve, there, where you really want it. As for what is left on the table, I will have to pay.

In Defense of Tables, or The Table: An Apologia

Floors. They are, in this instance, of utmost importance. Without them, we wouldn’t get into the room; without them, we would fall through somewhere into the depths, into Gothic basements or root cellars, into a Soviet hideaway or a Nazi bunker, maybe even into Hades, where Eurydice escaped from Orpheus. There is almost nothing down there. You read in books about corpses under the floor, a box of thalers, and you peel back the boards – nothing of the kind. A grey, moldy, mouse-infested park. So – the boards back in their place, a path of rugs over them, and on the path – a table.

A room with a table and two stools is called a minimalist interior, or a friend-of-port-wine interior. You will find such a sight most often in the kitchen, but in another room there will always be additional detail. A glassed-in section, an axe without a haft, a wedding photo on the wall (all grooms on walls, with their doubtful mustaches, are alike). Nevertheless, a table is the indubitable center. Let us ponder how furniture might be differentiated in terms of a throne and its greater or lesser periphery. From this point of view, a table for a Chinese vase will be a total backwater, while the true table of real, live communication will be backed by the sky, waiting for the president to take his seat.

In the absence of the president, or of any of life’s passers-by, objects of the room like to lie on the table – little things, we might add, those fated to migrate, to clamber over horizontal planes, changing their places of dislocation, forcing us to search for them. Where is that Klimt album now, or the little box with the wolf-tooth necklace? Where are those two things for which our searching never ends: keys and eyeglasses? You put them right here, yet they emigrated and the room covered up their tracks. They will wander a while longer, no doubt, then emerge onto the table like a float on the water’s surface. If we lined up all the things that had once been on a table, their chain would wind three times around the earth. By their orientation, Columbus could discover America three times over.

The table takes part in all of our festivities: it marries us, seats us, and lifts up our birthday plates. It does away with us. Numerous losers died by their own tables. A few shot themselves and fell on their tables with holes in their heads. I heard about one knavish artist from Šiauliai who tried to use his table to scare his wife. He would cut a hole in it and stick his head through the hole, and he stuck his tongue out through his teeth. He would pour something red around his neck, and when his wife came home she would faint, run to the law courts, and he changed one for another, like the leaves of a calendar. The table doesn’t comprehend our guile: its soul is naive and benevolent.

The table generously hides our mischief. Under it, during a meeting, you can give the finger to your boss, or caress his secretary’s knee. You can even take off your shoes beneath it, and this fact will more likely be given away by the emanation from your socks than by any impatience on the table’s part. After all, the table is also barefoot, like most quadrupeds. At that same meeting, the table is our support and our meaning. If at first we place our palms on it, later we pile on our elbows and then take to resting even our chests and shoulders. Try at such a time to pull the table to the side – the chairs will certainly not attempt to hold their sitters. Chairs are just the unassuming vassals of the table.

What is there more of in the world: people or tables? The numbers are probably similar. And they multiply with similar speed; nevertheless, the origin of tables will never be blamed on faulty contraception. The origin of the table is always conceived and awaited because the world piles up enough junk to put on it. Has anyone ever calculated the percentage of things in the world that lie on tables? Under tables? In the drawers of tables? What is the rate per minute of writing literature on tables, of drinking vodka, or of drawing up plans to rob banks? Until scientists discover all there is to know about these things, the universal idea of the table will keep them in bread.

Doubtless, tables are various, individual, with different intellects and temperaments. Some are even marked by a nine-year-old child’s stubbornness and won’t easily let their drawers be opened. So much the greater pleasure in opening them! Still, tables can be sorted into kinds by means of their most salient dispositions, in the way that we separate Indo-Europeans from even-toed ungulates. The most fundamental and widespread of them can be grouped into two types: dinner (meeting) tables and magazine (coffee) tables. Dinner tables are especially universal. On them, one not only eats and drinks, but sometimes sleeps or dances a striptease (in bad novels). Civilization has made mountains of accessories for them, beginning with tablecloths the size of Columbus’s sails, finishing with six-foot vases into which it is possible to soak a thuja with its garden-bed. An empty, naked dinner table is a sorry sight, even foreboding, as if everyone had forgotten you, or there was a war on, a famine, a plague. Then you become worried about your fate and go deal out a fifteen-deck game of solitaire on top of it. You avoid looking at the sad faces of the Jacks.

A coffee table is an island of peculiar intimacy. How pleasant it is to sit shoulder to shoulder with a pretty girl, browsing through some magazine. A coffee table guarantees that there will be few witnesses nearby – and many sofas. And it can happen that, at just the right time, you will both gently let the journal go from your hands. Hands will find hands sufficient, and the table will faithfully hold your candle, champagne, and an understanding rose turning itself away. Later, the day will separate you, and after some time, you will be sitting at the table with a letter in your hand. “I remember your room,” she (he) will write. “I remember your coffee table.”

There are also other tables, but to take a woman to see the bedside table is not very subtle and rarely ends well. There are also card and chess tables, kitchen tables, moonlight-kissed writing tables, and so on, and so forth. People of other countries are usually people of other tables. The Japanese, for instance, are often people of lower height, so they don’t go about insulting their size by means of table-height. They cut off the legs of tables, so that their tables are barely higher than their sea.

It is a common scene as the curtain rises: there is a balcony center-stage, and beyond it, a Japanese sea: in the foreground of the sea, two chairs and a TABLE. It doesn’t matter who will enter here from backstage, what and how they will act. The table stands like a soulful symbol of serenity. It simply is. It is not acting.

Translated by Rimas Uzgiris

Sit in a way that allows you to be comfortable
and relaxed. Do not let this hot and humid morning
enter your mind. Empty your mind, even if you

were up until 3am trying to forget what
your doctor told you yesterday afternoon. Now
take three deep breaths allowing yourself

to savor the mysterious gift that you
are breathing. You are breathing here
during this one moment, the only moment

that the benevolence of the earth gives
during this moment. This is your moment
even though we do not yet know

what a moment is. I often wonder what
the moment is just prior to the moment.
But that is a thought. And this is a yoga

meditation, and we are to accept each thought
as simply something that passes through us
and goes on its merry, or often un-merry, way.

Take another breath counting to four on the inhale
while picturing a gnome strolling up your nostrils
lugging a bag of gentle breezes, then count to six

on the exhale as the gnome cascades ass over
essential oils on an avalanche of air. Feel
your whole body fully relaxed. Continue breathing.

Picture a candle in a cave. Do not ask why in the
whole wide world there is a candle in a cave. If
you do, see in the question a yogi smiling as he

searches for the matches. Continue breathing.
And now imagine a field of lotus flowers. Or
if you are from the midwest and unfamiliar

with lotus flowers you can always substitute corn.
Now picture rain on a roof. Listen to it. Listen
to the distant cough of thunder. Just listen. Don’t

think about what you left out to ruin the last time
it rained. Continue breathing, and as you do, allow
any image to appear on the multiplex of your mind.

Be sure not to fixate on any one image. If a lover
old or new comes at you with a flame thrower, just
sit, watch, let it all pass, be glad your ego’s been emulsified.

Stay relaxed. Continue breathing. Feel the comfort
of your whole body as you repeat the mantra, “I am
at peace. I am totally at peace. I am really, totally at peace.”

Now that you are at peace, feel your feet, palms, pelvic floor
fully at rest in the room. Come to Sukhasana. Bring your hands
to your heart, and join me for one long peaceful Om.

– Jack Ridl

One Bite
Miracle fruit changes the tongue. One bite,
and for hours all you eat is sweet. Placed
alone on a saucer, it quivers like it’s cold
from the ceramic, even in this Florida heat.

Small as a coffee bean, red as jam—
I can’t believe. The man who sold
it to my father on Interstate 542 had one
tooth, one sandal, and called me

“Duttah, Duttah.” I wanted to ask what
is that, but the red buds teased me
into our car and away from his fruit stand.
One bite. And if you eat it whole, it softens

and swells your teeth like a mouthful
of mallow. So how long before you lose
a sandal and still walk? How long
before you lose the sweetness?

When you are a young person, you are like a young creek, and you meet many rocks, many obstacles, and difficulties on your way. You hurry to get past these obstacles and get to the ocean.

But as the creek moves down through the fields, it becomes larger and calmer and it can enjoy the reflection of the sky. It’s wonderful.

You will arrive at the sea anyway so enjoy the journey. Enjoy the sunshine, the sunset, the moon, the birds, the trees, and the many beauties along the way. Taste every moment of your daily life.

– Thich Nhat Hanh

But then you lit the lamp and that was it.
It was no sudden and miraculous glow
But the warm comfort of one window lit

Against the greyness I had come to be,
And I stood weary and I saw it so,
And I called then and you answered me.

– Peyton Houston

I don’t have a lot of words, but I have a lot of faith. I know the road feels low and winding, and we seem to need the pain to cut to the core, to emerge from the sleepwalk of despair and feel through the numbness of disconnect and indifference. But if we let ourselves feel this, we will be better for it.
– Angel Kyodo Williams

How the Stars Get in Your Bones

Sapphire, diamond, emerald, quartz:
think of every hard thing
that carries its own brilliance,
shining with the luster that comes
only from uncountable ages
in the earth, in the dark,
buried beneath unimaginable weight,
bearing what seemed impossible,
bearing it still.
And you, shouldering the grief
you had thought so solid, so impermeable,
the terrible anguish
you carried as a burden
now become—
who can say what day it happened?—
a beginning.
See how the sorrow in you
slowly makes its own light,
how it conjures its own fire.
See how radiant
even your despair has become
in the grace of that sun.
Did you think this would happen
by holding the weight of the world,
by giving in to the press of sadness
and time?
I tell you, this blazing in you—
it does not come by choosing
the most difficult way, the most daunting;
it does not come by the sheer force
of your will.
It comes from the helpless place in you
that, despite all, cannot help but hope,
the part of you that does not know
how not to keep turning
toward this world,
to keep turning your face
toward this sky,
to keep turning your heart
toward this unendurable earth,
knowing your heart will break
but turning it still.
I tell you,
this is how the stars
get in your bones.
This is how the brightness
makes a home in you,
as you open to the hope that burnishes
every fractured thing it finds
and sets it shimmering,
a generous light that will not cease,
no matter how deep the darkness grows,
no matter how long the night becomes.
Still, still, still
the secret of secrets
keeps turning in you,
becoming beautiful,
becoming blessed,
kindling the luminous way
by which you will emerge,
carrying your shattered heart
like a constellation within you,
singing to the day
that will not fail to come.
– Jan Richardson

How many times have you encountered the saying, ‘When the student is ready, the Master speaks?’ Do you know why that is true? The door opens inward. The Master is everywhere, but the student has to open his mind to hear the Masters Voice.
– Robert Anton Wilson

People are afraid of anything that makes them aware of the game element in human behavior. They don’t want to know it’s a game. It’s like the old Sufi legend about Allah. He decided to drive everybody crazy so he changed the water so that everybody who drank it would go crazy. And then he decided there was one man he liked a lot so he told him ‘Don’t drink the water for the next month!’ And after the first couple of days of living among all these lunatics the guy couldn’t stand it any more and he went and drank the water too. It happens every day. Every day people become aware we’re living in a crazy world and then they realize they can’t live with that insight so they go crazy themselves so they can fit into that world.
– Robert Anton Wilson

I study only what I like; I occupy my mind only with the ideas that interest me. They may or may not prove useful, either to me or to others. Time either will or it will not bring about the circumstances that will lead me to a profitable employment of my acquisitions. In any case I will have had the inestimable advantage of not having been at odds with myself, and of having obeyed the promptings of my own mind and character.

– from Products of the Perfected Civilization: selected writings of Chamfort, edited and translated by W.S. Merwin (1969)



The way it breaks is
the way it breaks,

the old monk said,
whether you’re talking

about a storm,
a walking stick, or

a line of poetry.



on the wall

is all
the candle
has to say

the old monk said.



The least you can do
is to try not to undo
what God has done,
the old monk said.

– posted by Tom Montag

by Paisley Rekdal

I am going to fail.
I’m going to fail cartilage and plastic, camera and arrow.
I’m going to fail binoculars and conjugations,
all the accompanying musics: I am failing,
I must fail, I can fail, I have failed
the way some women throw themselves
into lover’s arms or out trains,
fingers crossed and skirts billowing
behind them. I’m going to fail
the way strawberry plants fail,
have dug down hard to fail, shooting
brown runners out into silt, into dry gray beds,
into tissue and rock. I’m going to fail
the way their several hundred hearts below surface
have failed, thick, soft stumps desiccating
to tumors; the way roots wizen in the cold
and cloud black, knotty as spark plugs, cystic
synapses. I’m going to fail light and stars and tears.
I’m going to fail the way cowards only wish they could fail,
the way the brave refuse to fail or the vain fear to,
believing that to stray even once from perfection
is to be permanently cast out, Wandering Jew
of failure, Adam of failure, Sita of failure; that’s the way
I’m going to fail, bud and creosote and cloud.
I’m failing pet and parent. I’m failing the food
in strangers’ stomachs, the slender inchoate rings
of distant planets. I’m going to fail these words
and the next and the next. I’m going to fail them,
I’m going to fail her– trust me, I’ve already failed him–
and the possibility of a we is going to sink me
like a bad boat. I’m going to fail the way
this strawberry plant has failed, alive without bud,
without fruit, without tenderness, hugging itself
to privation and ridiculous want.
I’m going to fail simply by standing in front of you,
waving my arms in your face as if hailing a taxi:
I’m here, I’m here, please don’t forget me,
though you already have, I smell it, even cloaked
with soil, sending out my slender fingers for you,
sending out all my hair and tongue and brain.
I’m going to fail you
just as you’re going to fail me,
urging yourself further down to sediment
and the tiny, trickling filaments of damp;
thirsty, thirsty, desperate to drown
if even for a little while, if even for once:
to succumb, to be destroyed,
to die completely, to fail the way I’ve failed
in every particular sense of myself,
in every new and beautiful light.

The heart is a leisurely muscle. It differs from all other muscles. How many push-ups can you make before the muscles in your arms and stomach get so tired that you have to stop? But your heart muscle goes on working for as long as you live. It does not get tired, because there is a phase of rest built into every single heartbeat. Our physical heart works leisurely. And when we speak of the heart in a wider sense, the idea that life-giving leisure lies at the very center is implied. Seen in this light, leisure is not a privilege but a virtue. Leisure is not the privilege of a few who can afford to take time, but the virtue of all who are willing to give time to what takes time – to give as much time as a task rightly takes.
– Brother David Steindl-Rast

Homo homini lupus [Man is a wolf to man] The existence of this inclination to aggression, which we can detect in ourselves and justly assume to be present in others, is the factor which disturbs our relations with our neighbour…

– Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents

A hand turned upward holds only a single, transparent question.

Unanswerable, humming like bees, it rises, swarms, departs.

– Jane Hirshfield

I think that we are infinitely greater than our minds and we are infinitely more than our images of ourselves. One of the sad things today is that so many people are frightened by the wonder of their own presence. They are dying to tie themselves into a system, a role, or to an image, or to a predetermined identity that other people have actually settled on for them. This identity may be totally at variance with the wild energies that are rising inside in their souls. Many of us get very afraid and we eventually compromise. We settle for something that is safe, rather than engaging the danger and the wildness that is in our own hearts.
– John O’Donohue

The human body at peace with itself
Is more precious than the rarest gem.
Cherish your body.
It is yours this time only.
The human form is won with difficulty.
It is easy to lose.
All worldly things are brief,
Like a flash of lightning in the sky.
This life you must know as the tiny splash of a raindrop
That disappears even as it comes into being.
Therefore set your goal.
Make use of every day and night to achieve it.
– Je Tsongkhapa

Bond And Free
by Robert Frost

Love has earth to which she clings
With hills and circling arms about—
Wall within wall to shut fear out.
But Thought has need of no such things,
For Thought has a pair of dauntless wings.

On snow and sand and turn, I see
Where Love has left a printed trace
With straining in the world’s embrace.
And such is Love and glad to be
But Thought has shaken his ankles free.

Thought cleaves the interstellar gloom
And sits in Sirius’ disc all night,
Till day makes him retrace his flight
With smell of burning on every plume,
Back past the sun to an earthly room.

His gains in heaven are what they are.
Yet some say Love by being thrall
And simply staying possesses all
In several beauty that Thought fares far
To find fused in another star.

J. R. R. Tolkien, undisputedly a most fluent speaker of this language, was criticized in his day for indulging his juvenile whim of writing fantasy, which was then considered—as it still is in many quarters— an inferior form of literature and disdained as mere “escapism.” “Of course it is escapist,” he cried. “That is its glory! When a soldier is a prisoner of war it is his duty to escape—and take as many with him as he can.” He went on to explain, “The moneylenders, the knownothings, the authoritarians have us all in prison; if we value the freedom of the mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as possible.”
– Stephen R. Lawhead

I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which ‘Escape’ is now so often used. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?
– J.R.R. Tolkien

Hence the uneasiness which they arouse in those who, for whatever reason, wish to keep us wholly imprisoned in the immediate conflict. That perhaps is why people are so ready with the charge of “escape.” I never fully understood it till my friend Professor Tolkien asked me the very simple question, “What class of men would you expect to be most preoccupied with, and hostile to, the idea of escape?” and gave the obvious answer: jailers.
– C.S. Lewis

Jacob Needleman, Why Are We Running Out of Time?:

Technology itself is not the cause of our problem of time. Its influence on our lives is a result, not a cause — the result of an unseen accelerating process taking place in ourselves, in our inner being. Whether we point to the effect of communication technology (such as e-mail) with its tyranny of instant communication; or to the computerization, and therefore the mentalization of so many human activities that previously required at least some participation of our physical presence; or to any of the innumerable transformations of human life that are being brought about by new technology, the essential element to recognize is how much of what we call “progress” is accompanied by and measured by the fact that human beings need less and less conscious attention to perform their activities and lead their lives.

The real power of faculty of attention, unknown to modern science, is one of the indispensable and most central measures of humanness — of the being of a man or a woman — and has been so understood, in many forms and symbols, at the heart of all the great spiritual teachings of the world.

The effects of advancing technology, for all the material promise they offer the world (along with the dangers, of course) is but the most recent wave in a civilization that, without recognizing what it was doing, has placed the satisfaction of desire above the cultivation of being. The deep meaning of many rules of conduct and moral principles of the past — so many of which have been abandoned without our understanding their real roots in human nature — involved the cultivation and development of the uniquely human power of attention, its action in the body, heart and mind of man. To be present, truly present, is to have conscious attention. This capacity is the key to what it means to be human.

It is not, therefore, the rapidity of change as such that is the source of our problem of time. It is the metaphysical fact that the being of man is diminishing. In the world as in oneself, time is vanishing because we have lost the practice of consciously inhabiting our life, the practice of conscious attention to ourselves as we go about our lives.

My parents were protection, confidence, warmth. When I think of my childhood I still feel the sense of warmth above me, behind and around me, that marvelous sense of living not yet on one’s own, but leaning body and soul on others who accept the charge. My parents carried me along and that, I am sure, is the reason why through all my childhood I never touched ground. I could go away and come back. Objects had no weight and I never became entangled in the web of things. I passed between dangers and fears as light passes through a mirror. That was the joy of my childhood, the magic armor which, once put on, protects for a lifetime.
– Jacques Lusseyran

Try this: Think of a current “drought” in your life. For 10 minutes, just trust that it will all be okay. Trust that you’re being guided. Trust, against all odds and evidence, that you are safe. When I use this exercise on my drought fears, the strangest thing happens: I feel it raining inside myself. I become a microcosm of the life-giving rain that, someday, will bring California back to life. Or so I trust.
– Martha Beck

The World Teachers never etched their words
on paper or stone for all to obey;
they knew people would only split hairs,
bicker, compel other to follow their folly.
The more you listen to preachers,
the more you’ll moralize and judge,
so go learn on your own.
Everything is written inside:
You are The Book.
– Tao Te Ching #65

So then actually the process of praising and the process of noticing and the process of attention to the good things and the process of loving and the process of noticing the music of the world – I think that is as important and as necessary as witnessing and naming and holding the grief and sorrow that comes with being alive.
– Ada Limón

There is a very ancient tablet of commandments on which is engraved: “today exists to repair yesterday and to prepare tomorrow.” He who does this is a man: in preparing tomorrow, you can repair yesterday. You must know this. Do not expect to receive; do it as a service, as an obligation: to repair your past.
– Gurdjieff

As for me, my bed is made: I am against bigness and greatness in all their forms, and with the invisible molecular moral forces that work from individual to individual, stealing in through the crannies of the world like so many soft rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, and yet rending the hardest monuments of man’s pride, if you give them time.
– William James

In a world of noise, confusion and conflict it is necessary that there be places of silence, inner discipline and peace. In such places love can blossom.
– Thomas Merton

You’re now looking at the human soul singing to its self.
– Wim Wenders

Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure.
– Henri J.M. Nouwen

To me, poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment.
– Galway Kinnell

We have to consciously study how to be tender with each other until it becomes a habit because what was native has been stolen from us…but we can practice being gentle with each other by being gentle with that piece of ourselves that is hardest to hold.
– Audre Lorde

The poem, the song, the picture, is only water drawn from the well of the people, and it should be given back to them in a cup of beauty so that they may drink – and in drinking understand themselves.
– Federico Garcia Lorca

We live, as you may have noticed, in a degraded era, bombarded by facile, shallow, agenda-laced, too rapidly disseminated information bursts.
– George Saunders

That’s all poetry is, really: something odd, coming out. Normal speech, overflowed. A failed attempt to do justice to the world. The poet proves that language is inadequate by throwing herself at the fence of language and being bound by it. Poetry is the resultant bulging of the fence.
– George Saunders

If I were really asked to define myself, I wouldn’t start with race; I wouldn’t start with blackness; I wouldn’t start with gender; I wouldn’t start with feminism. I would start with stripping down to what fundamentally informs my life, which is that I’m a seeker on the path. I think of feminism, and I think of anti-racist struggles as part of it. But where I stand spiritually is, steadfastly, on a path about love.
– Bell Hooks

Poetry is a rich, full-bodied whistle,
cracked ice crunching in pails,
the night that numbs the leaf,
the duel of two nightingales,
the sweet pea that has run wild,
Creation’s tears in shoulder blades.
– Boris Pasternak

Poetry is a rich, full-bodied whistle,
cracked ice crunching in pails,
the night that numbs the leaf,
the duel of two nightingales,
the sweet pea that has run wild,
Creation’s tears in shoulder blades.
– Boris Pasternak

but poems tend instead to transform, not translate – they are indeed translations of felt and thought experience into verbal presentation, but their business, as it were, is to transform experience so our assumption about a given experience can be disturbed and, accordingly, our thinking about that experience might be at once made more complicated, deeper, richer. This doesn’t mean that we as readers necessarily will feel better. But the purpose of reading poetry is not, to my mind, to be made to feel better, but rather to understand human experience more entirely.
– Carl Phillip

I would like to think that I have encouraged people with whom I’ve worked and studied to cultivate the very important and powerful trait of loyalty. I am a very loyal person. I’m loyal to people and to things and to cities and to ideas. People will change and fail and make foolish mistakes, but I don’t abandon them; my love for them doesn’t cease in the least. Our city crumbles and darkens and seems adrift, but I don’t move; I stay and love it it back to health, and it returns to the beautiful condition in which I found it. The theatre changes and shrinks, but I see the core of it all, which is glorious and proud and will never die. I’m loyal to what I love, and I try to love as much as I can as many as I can. Take the long walk with those people and things and places that you love. The rewards are too much to bear, in the best possible sense.
– Marian Seldes

A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as he is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things he would not have thought of if he had not started to say them.
– William Stafford

When love and skill work together,
expect a masterpiece.
– John Ruskin

Blessing in the Chaos

To all that is chaotic
in you,
let there come silence.

Let there be
a calming
of the clamoring,
a stilling
of the voices that
have laid their claim
on you,
that have made their
home in you,

that go with you
even to the
holy places
but will not
let you rest,
will not let you
hear your life
with wholeness
or feel the grace
that fashioned you.

Let what distracts you
Let what divides you
Let there come an end
to what diminishes
and demeans,
and let depart
all that keeps you
in its cage.

Let there be
an opening
into the quiet
that lies beneath
the chaos,
where you find
the peace
you did not think
and see what shimmers
within the storm.

– Jan Richardson

The Aim was Song
by Robert Frost

Before man came to blow it right
The wind once blew itself untaught,
And did its loudest day and night
In any rough place where it caught.

Man came to tell it what was wrong:
It hadn’t found the place to blow;
It blew too hard—the aim was song.
And listen—how it ought to go!

He took a little in his mouth,
And held it long enough for north
To be converted into south,
And then by measure blew it forth.

By measure. It was word and note,
The wind the wind had meant to be—
A little through the lips and throat.
The aim was song—the wind could see.

I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or deescalated, and a person is humanized or dehumanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“We’re going,” they said, “to the end of the world.”
So they stopped the car where the river curled,
And we scrambled down beneath the bridge
On the gravel track of a narrow ridge.

We tramped for miles on a wooded walk
Where dog-hobble grew on its twisted stalk.
Then we stopped to rest on the pine-needle floor
While two ospreys watched from an oak by the shore.

We came to a bend, where the river grew wide
And green mountains rose on the opposite side.
My guides moved back. I stood alone,
As the current streaked over smooth flat stone.

Shelf by stone shelf the river fell.
The white water goosetailed with eddying swell.
Faster and louder the current dropped
Till it reached a cliff, and the trail stopped.

I stood at the edge where the mist ascended,
My journey done where the world ended.
I looked downstream. There was nothing but sky,
The sound of the water, and the water’s reply.
– Dana Gioia

Hesitation with regard to the modern projects mainly has to do with a growing disbelief in their promises. Classical modernity believed in the ability of the future to realize the promises of past and present – even after the death of God, even after the loss of faith in the immortality of the soul. The notion of a permanent art collection says it all: archive, library and museum promised secular permanency, a material infinitude that substituted for the religious promise of resurrection and eternal life. During the period of modernity, the ‘body of work’ replaced the soul as the potentially immortal part of the Self. . . . But today, this promise of an infinite future holding the results of our work has lost its plausibility. Museums have become the sites of temporary exhibitions rather than spaces for permanent collections. The future is ever newly planned – the permanent change of cultural trends and fashions makes any promise of a stable future for an artwork or a political project improbable.
– Borys Groys

people arrived
by Kaie Kellough

people arrived from portugal. people arrived from africa. people arrived from
india. people arrived from england. people arrived from china. people
predated arrival. people fled predation. people were arrayed. people populated.
whips patterned rays into people. people arose. people rayed outward to
toronto, london, boo york. people raided people. people penned the past.
people roved over on planes. people talked over people. people rented places.
people planted people in people. people raided plantations. people prayed.
people re-fried. people died and didn’t get second glances. people won
scholarships and vanished. people lived atop people. people represented
people. people drain-brained. people studied for the common entrance.
people paraded. people stumbled and tranced. people took two steps
backward. people simmered and boiled over. people plantain. people orphan.
people sugarcane. people undocumented. people underground. people never
lauded, landed. people arrived but. people . people departed and
arrived again. people retreaded. people stole knowing. people plantation.
people horizon. people done run from people. people arrived not knowing
their patterns. people arrived riven, alone in the world. people made their
war from time. people hailed from climes. people fanned their spreading.
people cleaved unto people. people writhed over / under people. people
arrived over / under people

Poetry is a river; many voices travel in it; poem after poem moves along in the exciting crests and falls of the river waves. None is timeless; each arrives in an historical context; almost everything, in the end, passes. But the desire to make a poem, and the world’s willingness to receive it – indeed the world’s need of it – these never pass.

If it is all poetry, and not just one’s own accomplishment, that carries one from this green and mortal world – that lifts the latch and gives a glimpse into a greater paradise – then perhaps one has the sensibility: a gratitude apart from authorship, a fervor and desire beyond the margins of the self.

– Mary Oliver

To feel the intimacy of brothers is a marvelous thing in life. To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses – that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living thing
– Pablo Neruda

There will always be people who think suffering leads to enlightenment, who place themselves on the verge of what’s about to break, or go dangerously wrong. Let’s resist them and their thinking, you and I. Let’s not rush toward that sure thing that awaits us, which can dumb us into nonsense and pain.
– Stephen Dunn

Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.
– Paul Theroux

Sonnets to Orpheus XIII, Part 2

Be ahead of all parting, as if it were
behind you like the winter just passing now.
For among winters there’s one such endless winter,
that, overwintering, your heart for all time overcomes.

Always be dead in Eurydice; with stronger song,
giving more powerful praise, re-ascend to pure relation.
Here, among the vanishing ones, in the realm of decline,
be as a ringing glass, already shattered by ringing.

Be, and know at the same time the terms of non-being—
endless reason for your intense vibration,
so you may perfectly, this one time, achieve it.

Count yourself in with the used as well as the dumb, dark
stores of bountiful nature, with the unsayable sums.
Count yourself, jubilantly, and cancel the count.

– Rainer Maria Rilke (trans. Christiane Marks)

Why Write Love Poetry in a Burning World
To train myself to find, in the midst of hell
what isn’t hell.
The body, bald, cancerous, but still
beautiful enough to
imagine living the body
washing the body
replacing a loose front
porch step the body chewing
what it takes to keep a body
this scene has a tune
a language I can read
this scene has a door
I cannot close I stand
within its wedge
I stand within its shield
Why write love poetry in a burning world?
To train myself, in the midst of a burning world,
to offer poems of love to a burning world.
– Katie Farris

At any particular moment in a man’s life, he can say that everything he has done and has not done, that has been done and not been done to him, has brought him to this moment. If he’s being installed as Chieftain or receiving a Nobel Prize, that’s a fulfilling notion. But if he’s in a sleeping bag at ten thousand feet in a snowstorm, parked in the middle of a highway and waiting to freeze to death, the idea can make him feel calamitously stupid.”]
– William Least Heat-Moon

A purpose of human life,
no matter who is controlling it,
is to love whoever is around to be loved.
– Kurt Vonnegut

Cognitive scientists tell us that it takes time for the conscious mind to extract latent patterns within a diversity of superficially different experiences. In our idle moments, in the gaps between our activities our minds are busy connecting the threads of our experiences. Idelness can allow epistemic openings, where apparently separate notions mingle and recombine in surprising ways. If these gaps are plugged up by more data, creative synthesis is blocked.
– Sarah Robinson

If we can be still long enough, details of the world reveal themselves of their own accord. Steven Holl counsels, “To open ourselves to perception, we must transcend the mundane urgency of ‘things to do.’ We must try to access the inner life which reveals the luminous intensity of the world. Only through solitude can we begin to penetrate the secret world around us. An awareness of one’s unique existence in space is essential in developing a consciousness of perception.” Rather than forcing our experience into a prefixed Platonic ideal or the totality of a planner’s prescription, contextual information is simply allowed to emerge. This is deep listening, the source of both poetic making and responsible action…

Through listening and observing, appropriate form emerges from the unique variables of the situation. Local insight yields diverse outcomes. This is perhaps why much of what indigenous cultures produce bears the signature of their landscape. Being situated is to be at the site, the unique unrepeatable place that is context.
– Sarah Robinson

One has to believe in what one is doing, one has to commit oneself inwardly, in order to do painting. Once obsessed, one ultimately carries it to the point of believing that one might change human beings through painting. But if one lacks this passionate commitment, there is nothing left to do. Then it is best to leave it alone. For basically painting is total idiocy.

Each picture has to evolve out of a painterly or visual logic: it has to emerge as if inevitably. And by not planning the outcome, I hope to achieve the same coherence and objectivity that a random slice of nature (or a readymade) always possesses. Of course, this is also a method of bringing in unconscious processes, as far as possible. I just want to get something more interesting out of it than those things that I can think out for myself.

Uncertainty is part of me; it’s a basic premise of my work. After all, we have no objective justification for feeling certain about anything. Certainty is for fools, or liars.

Any thoughts on my part about the ‘construction’ of a picture are false, and if the execution works, this is only because I partly destroy it, or because it works in spite of everything—by not detracting and by not looking the way I planned.

I often find this intolerable and even impossible to accept, because, as a thinking, planning human being, it humiliates me to find out that I am so powerless. It casts doubt on my competence and constructive ability. My only consolation is to tell myself that I did actually make the pictures—even though they are a law unto themselves, even though they treat me any way they lie and somehow just take shape.

It seems to me that the invention of the readymade was the invention of reality. It was the crucial discovery that what counts is reality, not any world-view whatever. Since then, painting has never represented reality; it has been reality (creating itself.)

Everything you can think of—the feeblemindedness, the stupid ideas, the gimcrack constructions and speculations, the amazing inventions and the glaring juxtapositions—the things you can’t help seeing a million times over, day in and day out; the impoverishment and the cocksure ineptitude—I paint all that away, out of myself, out of my head, when I first start on a picture. That is my foundation, my ground. I get rid of that in the first few layers, which I destroy, layer by layer, until all the facile feeblemindedness has gone.

The ability to believe is our outstanding quality, and only art adequately translates it into reality.

Question: You do abstract and realistic paintings at the same time. Isn’t that a great contradiction?

The means you use to organize it are the same: the same structure, the same contrasts…But there is a difference in what I call the climate. For example, the landscape are peaceful and sentimental. The abstract works are more emotional, more aggressive. I look for these differences of climate.

I believe I am looking for rightness. My work has so much to do with reality that I wanted to have a corresponding rightness. That excludes painting in imitation. In nature everything is always right: the structure is right, the proportions are good, the colors fit the forms. If you imitate that in painting, it becomes false.

It follows that art is a way of thinking things out differently, and of apprehending the intrinsic inaccessibility of phenomenal reality; that art is an instrument, a method of getting at that which is closed and inaccessible to us (the banal future, just as much as the intrinsically unknowable); that art has a formative and therapeutic, consolatory and informative, investigative and speculative function; it is thus not only existential pleasure but Utopia.
– Gerhard Richter

One breath brings as much revelation as the Bible, the Qur’an, the Vedas. To savor each millimeter of this inhalation is incalculable abundance. This breath is the river of wonder that leads to the ocean of God.

In fact, every inspired scripture or prophecy came from the silence where this breath arises, and to which it returns. The source of revelation is in your own chest.

To delight in this breath is the end of war. To be grateful for the riches of this breath is the end of consumerism. To be emptied and filled with this breath is the end of craving. If you are truly awake, merely to breathe is the purest form of worship, pouring peace upon the earth.

This breath is given, not taken. Rest in the grace of this breath. To be awake in this breath is the spiritual root of radical politics, the Om-coming of sustainable economics.

Ecos, Nomos. The word “economy” comes from these Greek words for “home” and “law.” Economy is the government of the home. When we feel completely at home in this breath, our whole physiology is well-regulated. And in the fulfillment of our home, what can we crave? Where is our restless and hungry mind? Merged in this breath, the mind is silent, while the heart sings. When this breath becomes conscious, it is not merely a breath. It is the Holy Spirit.

If you are astonished by this breath, your needs are few. And when your needs are few, you exploit no one. You walk gently over the world, tasting the green grass with your bare feet, discovering a miracle in the smallest bud, the wealth in a pebble.

This Sabbath morning, why not let the unconscious sacrament of breathing become conscious? Breathe in the Mother of Creation, and breathe out Christ.
– Alfred K Lamotte

“The one who descends is the very one who ascends higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.”
– Ephesians 4:10

Sophia, the Wisdom of the heart, cannot be known by knowledge. She is known by the power of intuition, the ecstasy that stills your breath. She alone is the unfathomable source of healing. Isn’t it time for you to burst like a spore and take root in Her?

The glory of the heart swallows up the illusion of distance, exposing your intimacy with galaxies whose light is only now arriving as your body. The constellations, those animals of wild night, are your internal organs. Countless suns thread silken rays of love into the atoms of your flesh. Here is your miracle: the golden splendor descending from the stars is the very energy ascending from the womb of dark matter, nourished by your ancestors’ bones, entangled in the sacred dance of mycelial loam.

From star-beings to mushrooms, countless messengers illuminate you, weaving themselves into your beauty. Does it matter what you call them: Devas, Heavenly Hosts, Totem Animals, Anunnaki, Chanterelles? Is the archangel Gabriel more glorious than a hummingbird? They bathe you in an infinite caress, both heavenly and infernal. Ascent and descent are a single gesture of respiration. You embody the sky. You are the song of dust. Breathe as one, not two.

What is not real must be shaken, so that what cannot be shaken may be revealed. Now is the time to inherit your glory, and depart from the kingdom of fear.
– Alfred K Lamotte

You have a mission of green
on a thirsty planet.
Don’t become a cynic.
Your task is the grace
of a fallen raindrop,
an opening bud,
a thrush at dawn.
Be a fragrance in the breeze.
Don’t waste time becoming anyone
but a Lover.
Do beauty with your hands.
Breathe peace.
Give people hope
by insisting that this moment
is enough.
These are simple words, friend,
but they were born of many tears.
– Alfred K Lamotte

Listening is peace.
Listen to the most distant sound you can hear.
A seal barking from a wild rocky island across the water.
Now the rustle of a nest-building robin
in the bush by your window.
Listen to the bells of the red winged black bird
in the rushes by the stream,
and the silence between them.
Now you can hear the stream.
You can hear the moon in daylight.
Listening is peace.
Cast the blessing
of gratitude
across vast spaces
just by listening, which is prayer.
And as if it were a song,
listen to your breath, flowing in,
flowing out.
The stars will teach you your name.
And you will hear the ancient story
of the present moment,
filled with the clamor of
shields and spears,
the clash of wings,
the bronze promise of heavy-laden ships
on the blue horizon,
the flaring and dying out of suns,
in the atoms your body.
Cast the blessing of gratitude
across vast spaces
just by listening.
Listening is peace.
– Alfred K Lamotte

A brilliant golden sun
floats in the clear blue sky
about two inches or so
in front of your sternum.
You can fathom that vastness
with your exhalation
if it is faint and
gentle enough.
No imagination or visualization
It takes no effort to let go
of distances.
Your heart-radiance
is the real sun.
The one that rises and sets
in the East and the West
is just a reflection.
Do you want to share
in abundance?
Bring the touch of peace
to a fearful planet?
Spread healing balm
on the wounds of all God’s creatures?
Then bask in who you are.
– Alfred K Lamotte

Earth doesn’t need
a left or right wing
to soar through the stillness
of divine love.
Earth doesn’t hear
your political outrage,
your angry debate,
your righteous division
of rich and poor,
black and white,
believer and unbeliever.
Earth listens
to what is so much quieter!
The harmony of body,
breath and spirit
on the lyre of your spine.
The wordless Presence
of your smile.
The healing footsteps
when you walk slowly,
not to arrive,
but simply to caress
the soil.
Listening is peace.
– Alfred K Lamotte

When we contemplate
the whole globe
as one great dewdrop,
striped and dotted with
continents and islands,
flying through space
with other stars all singing and
shining together as one,
the whole universe appears as
an infinite storm of beauty.
– John Muir

Anyone who looks deeply into the life of the soul will see that these two streams, one from the past and one from the future, are continually meeting there. The fact that we are influenced by the past is obvious. Who could deny that our energy or idleness of yesterday has some effect on us today? But we ought not to deny the reality of the future, either, for we can observe in the soul the intrusion of future events, although they have not yet happened. After all, there is such a thing as fear of something likely to happen tomorrow, or anxiety about it. Is that not a sort of feeling or perception concerned with the future? Whenever the soul experiences fear or anxiety, it shows by the reality of its feelings that it is reckoning not only with the past but in a very lively manner with something hastening towards it from the future…

Is there anything that can give the soul a sense of security in this situation? Yes, there is. It is what we may call a feeling of humbleness towards anything that may come towards the soul out of the darkness of the future. But this feeling will be effective only if it has the character of prayer. Let us avoid misunderstanding. We are not extolling something that might be called humbleness in one sense or another; we are describing a definite form of it—humbleness to whatever the future may bring. Anyone who looks anxiously and fearfully towards the future hinders his development, hampers the free unfolding of his soul-forces. Nothing, indeed, obstructs this development more than fear and anxiety in face of the unknown future. But the results of submitting to the future can be judged only by experience. What does this humbleness mean?
– Rudolf Steiner

The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual – for it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost.
– M. Scott Peck

Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again. And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children.
– Pablo Casals

The sun turns a key in a lock each day
As soon as it crawls out of bed.
Light swings open a door
And the many kinds of love rush out
Onto the infinite green field.
Your soul sometimes plays a note
Against the sky’s ear that excites
The birds and planets.
Stay close to any sounds
That make you
Glad you are alive.
– Hafiz

It is March and black dust falls out of the books
Soon I will be gone
The tall spirit who lodged here has
Left already
On the avenues the colorless thread lies under
Old prices

When you look back there is always the past
Even when it has vanished
But when you look forward
With your dirty knuckles and the wingless
Bird on your shoulder
What can you write

The bitterness is still rising in the old mines
The fist is coming out of the egg
The thermometers out of the mouths of the corpses

At a certain height
The tails of the kites for a moment are
Covered with footsteps

Whatever I have to do has not yet begun
– W. S. Merwin

The secret life
begins early, is kept alive
by all that’s unpopular
in you, all that you know
a Baptist, say, or some other
accountant would object to.
It becomes what you’d most protect
if the government said you can protect
one thing, all else is ours.
When you write late at night
it’s like a small fire
in a clearing, it’s what
radiates and what can hurt
if you get too close to it.
It’s why your silence is a kind of truth.
Even when you speak to your best friend,
the one who’ll never betray you,
you always leave out one thing;
a secret life is that important.
– Stephen Dunn

Do not be daunted by the
enormity of the world’s grief.

Do justly, now,
love mercy, now,
walk humbly, now.

You are not obligated to complete the work,
but neither are you free to abandon it.

– Micah 6:8, The Talmud,
as interpreted by Rabbi Rami Shapiro

The typical circumstance of a child when seen in public these days is one of being dragged along by a long arm, while whoever is dragging the child is saying, “Come on, let’s go! We don’t have any time. We have to get home (or somewhere else). Don’t just stand there. Do something.” That’s the gist of it. But other cultures – many Native American tribes, for example – had an entirely different ideal for education: “A well-educated child ought to be able to sit and look when there is nothing to be seen,” and “A well-educated child ought to be able to sit and listen when there is nothing to be heard.” Now that’s very different from our attitude, but it is very congenial to children. That’s exactly what they want to do – just stand and look and be totally absorbed in whatever it is that they are looking at or listening to or licking or sucking or playing with in one way or another. And of course we destroy this capacity for openness toward meaning at a very young age; by making them do things and take things in hand, we direct them very exclusively toward the purpose level.
– David Steindl-Rast

You ask me why I live in the
blue jade mountains.

My heart is at leisure with itself.
I smile and do not answer.

The peach blossom floats away
on flowing water.

Here is neither heaven nor earth,
timelesss, space-less,

even for a human being.

– Li Po

The American writer Barry Hannah said that there’s a ghost in every story: a place, a memory, a feeling long forgotten. Experiences that never fully recede, people who leave an imprint. A permanent, if invisible residue. Memories sooted and flower-pressed; a part of us now, like a prosthetic formed of the past.
– Sinéad Gleeson

Lyric ideas are as illusive as fireflies. They are spirits flitting between the trees. The moment you give them your attention, they are gone. But still you write, because over the years you have learned—midst the nonsensical hieroglyphics you compulsively scrawl in your notebooks, the dumb single lines that stare contemptuously back at you, the song titles that excite you then lose their magic the next time you look at them, the half-baked and derivative ideas, the stolen lines, the Freudian doodles, the desperate over-egged metaphors and lunatic, pencil-snapping, last-ditch attempts at something, my God, anything—you have learned to hold fast and trust. You have learned from hard-won experience that within this pile of words something mysterious is going on, something beyond the reaches of your understanding, something that simply takes its own sweet time and of which you are a tiny part—you are the guy who turns up to hold the pencil—and that suddenly, without warning, you find you have taken one line of no consequence and attached it to another line of no consequence and a kind of reverberation begins between the two lines, a throbbing—or as I like to call it, a ‘shimmering’—it is something you can actually see! And as the two combined lines pulsate, they begin to collect significance impossibly, and at a rapid rate, to load up with meaning, even to call down a melody, and your heart begins to beat as if for the first time in God knows how long, and you come alive, you become an actual person, a functional, competent human being deserving of their place on this earth, because you know, suddenly, more than anything, that you are on to something and this shimmering convergence of words is setting off on its journey to change the world.
– Nick Cave

Love must be told
at all hours how beautiful it is, how rare,
how flesh-necessary; love should
be allowed to tire us, to work
itself out through our fingertips,
our tongues, our teeth; love must eat us
so we may find it delicious,
so our lovers may seem like fruit,
we are always biting into
for the first time.
– Robert J. Levy

I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, […], to create a sense of the hunger for life that gnaws in us all.
– Richard Wright

Unless you love … your life will flash by.
– Terrence Malik

The nuns taught us there are two ways through life … the way of nature … and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow. Grace doesn’t try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it, too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy, when all the world is shining around it. When love is smiling through all things. They taught us that no one who love the way of grace ever comes to a bad end. I will be true to you. Whatever comes.
– Terrence Malik

I think the poem is not / Transparent, as some have said, nor a looking-glass, as some have also said, / Yet it has almost the quality of disappearance / In its cage of visibility. It disperses among the words. It is a / fluidity, a vapor, of love.
– Hayden Carruth

You will never be

What the field remembers. The latch holds—

Alone in the grief of being

Outside what you have made, and the possible

That lies in whatever green you leave behind.

– Sophie Cabot Black

Poetry is a way of remembering what it would impoverish us to forget.
– Robert Frost

Memory is tricky. We remember how it felt, not necessarily how it was.
– James Taylor

The gold March dawn
and below my window
a man carves his car
from the snow heap
plowed up around it.
So easy not to envy
the cold muscled task

but then imagine—
feeling your heartbeat
alive like a chipmunk
at work in your chest,
imagine the whole day
arm-sore and good
with accomplishment,

the day you begin
with heavy breath
and see it linger
outside your body
like a negative of
the dark air cavity
in you like the spirit
in you like the ghost.

– Alicia Mountain

My friends are dead who were

the arches the pillars of my life

the structural relief when

the world gave none.

My friends who knew me as I knew them

their bodies folded into the ground or burnt to ash.

If I got on my knees

might I lift my life as a turtle carries her home?

Who if I cried out would hear me?

My friends—with whom I might have spoken of this—are gone.

– Marie Howe

Most Days I Want to Live
by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Not all days. But most days
I do. Most days the garden’s
almost enough: little pink flowers
on the sage, even though
the man said we couldn’t eat
it. Not this kind. And I said,
Then, gosh. What’s the point?
The flowers themselves,
I suppose. The rain came
and then the hail came and my love
brought them in. Even tipped
over they look optimistic.
I know it’s too late to envy
the flowers. That century’s
over and done. And hope?
That’s a jinx. But I did set them
right. I patted them a little.
And prayed for myself, which
is embarrassing to admit
in this day and age. But I did it.
Because no one was looking
or listening anyway.

What about a lighter footprint?
I’m craving simple taste
Grow my own food if I could at all
And cut back on my waste
What more do I need
From the mountain to the sea?
Call in the gang for a velcro plan
A pot of hot coffee or tea

And when is enough enough?
And when have I enough stuff?
And when is enough enough?
And when have I enough stuff?
No manifesto

I cut back on the diesel
Cycle into town
Call into the GURU Tearooms
When the rain comes down
We tease out all the crises
From the Ukraine to Iraq
And we’ve a plan to solve pollution
We’ve abolished the water tax

But when is enough enough?
When have I enough stuff?
When is enough enough?
When have I enough stuff?
No manifesto

Why would I ever jump on a plane
With a passport and sunscreen
When paradise is here and now
And I am living the dream
My next great adventure
Will be just standing still
Between Hag’s Head and the White Strand
And the buzzing all around Moy Hill

And when is enough enough?
When have I enough stuff?
When is enough enough?
And when have I enough stuff?
No manifesto

What about a lighter footprint
Under the silvery moon
And is my life for living
Or am I just here to consume?

And when is enough enough?
When have I enough stuff?
And when is enough enough?
When have I enough stuff?
No manifesto
– Luka Bloom

My father, who lived to ninety-four, often said that the eighties had been one of the most enjoyable decades of his life. He felt, as I begin to feel, not a shrinking but an enlargement of mental life and perspective. One has had a long experience of life, not only one’s own life, but others’ too. One has seen triumphs and tragedies, booms and busts, revolutions and wars, great achievements and deep ambiguities. One has seen grand theories rise, only to be toppled by stubborn facts. One is more conscious of transience and, perhaps, of beauty. At eighty, one can take a long view and have a vivid, lived sense of history not possible at an earlier age. I can imagine, feel in my bones, what a century is like, which I could not do when I was forty or sixty. I do not think of old age as an ever grimmer time that one must somehow endure and make the best of, but as a time of leisure and freedom, freed from the factitious urgencies of earlier days, free to explore whatever I wish, and to bind the thoughts and feelings of a lifetime together. I am looking forward to being eighty.
– Oliver Sacks

I Am Not Ready To Die Yet
by Aracelis Girmay

after Joy Harjo

I am not ready to die yet: magnolia tree
going wild outside my kitchen window
& the dog needs a house, &, by the way,
I just met you, my sisters & I
have things to do, & I need
to talk on the phone with my brother. Plant a tree.
& all the things I said I’d get better at.

In other words, I am not ready to die yet
because didn’t we say we’d have a picnic
the first hot day, I mean,
the first really, really hot day?
Taqueria. & swim, kin,
& mussel & friend, don’t you go, go, no.

Today we saw the dead bird, & stopped for it.
& the airplanes glided above us. & the wind
lifted the dead bird’s feathers.

I am not ready to die yet.
I want to live longer knowing that wind
still moves a dead bird’s feathers.
Wind doesn’t move over & say That thing
can’t fly. Don’t go there. It’s dead.
No, it just blows & blows lifting
what it can. I am not ready
to die yet. No.

I want to live longer.
I want to love you longer, say it again,
I want to love you longer
& sing that song
again. & get pummeled by the sea
& come up breathing & hot sun
& those walks & those kids
& hard laugh, clap your hands.
I am not ready to die yet.

Give me more dreams. To taste the fig.
To hear the coyote, closer.
I am not ready to die yet.
But when I go, I’ll go knowing
there will be a next time. I want

to be like the cactus fields
I drove through in Arizona.
If I am a cactus, be the cactus
I grow next to, arms up,
every day, let me face you,
every day of my cactus life.

& when I go or you go,
let me see you again somewhere,
or you see me.

Isn’t that you, old friend, my love?
you might say, while swimming in some ocean
to the small fish at your ankle.
Or, Weren’t you my sister once?
I might say to the sad, brown dog who follows me down
the street. Or to the small boy
or old woman or horse eye
or to the tree. I know I knew I know you, too.
I’m saying, could this be what makes me stop
in front of that dogwood, train whistle, those curtains
blowing in that window. See now,
there go some eyes you knew once
riding the legs of another animal,
wearing its blue sky, magnolia,
wearing its bear or fine
or wolf-wolf suit, see,
somewhere in the night a mouth is singing
You remind me You remind me
& the heart flips over in the dusky sea of its chest
like a fish signaling Yes, yes it was me!
& yes, it was, & you were there, & are here now,
yes, honey, yes hive, yes I will, Jack,
see you again, even if it’s a lie, don’t
let me know, not yet, not ever, I need to think
I’ll see you, oh,
see you

The process of revising a poem is no arbitrary tinkering, but a continued honing of the self at the deepest level.
– Jane Hirshfield

There is a life review, of course, but it was so much more interesting than I had ever imagined. For one thing, they show you how and where your life really happened. Things you didn’t experience or weren’t ever aware of, but which dyed the fabric of your life its final color.
– Jonathan Carroll

Life is half spent before we know what it is.
– George Herbert

A person’s life purpose is nothing more than to rediscover, through the detours of art, or love, or passionate work, those one or two images in the presence of which his [her] heart first opened.
– Albert Camus

All I want is silence, for myself and for the selves I used to be.
– Alejandra Pizarnik

You could only wait. Wait for what? For life to continue to consist of waiting?
– Erich Maria Remarque

the passions that remain
are of a cooler variety,
barely stirring my heart
– Michael Boiano

I am unattached; My heart is very quiet.
– Sylvia Plath

There is no end.
There is no beginning.
There is only the infinite passion of life.
– Federico Fellini

Most of the time the universe speaks to us very quietly in pockets of silence, in coincidences, in nature, in forgotten memories, in the shape of clouds, in moments of solitude, in small tugs at our hearts.
– Yumi Sakugawa

We have the money, the power, the medical understanding, the scientific know-how, the love and the community to produce a kind of human paradise. But we are led by the least among us – the least intelligent, the least noble, the least visionary. We are led by the least among us and we do not fight back against the dehumanizing values that are handed down as control icons.
– Terence McKenna

It Doesn’t Take Much

Maybe an hour before sunrise, driving alone
on the way to reach somewhere, seeing,
set back from the highway, the dark shape
of a farmhouse up against deeper darkness,
a light in one window. Or farther along

into a gray, watery dawn, passing
a McDonald’s, lighted bright as a city,
and seeing one man, in ball cap, alone
in a booth, not looking down at his table
but ahead, over the empty booths. Or

maybe an hour farther, in full daylight,
at a place where a bus stops, seeing
a woman somewhere in her forties,
dressed for cold, wearing white ear muffs,
a red and white team jacket, blue jeans

and Muk Luks, one knit mitten holding
a slack empty mitten, her bare hand
extended, pinching a lit cigarette,
dry leaves—the whole deck of a new day—
fanned out face-down in the gutter, but

she’s not stooping to turn over a card,
but instead watching a long ash grow
even longer at the ends of her fingers.
Just that much might be enough for one
morning to make you feel part of it all.

– Ted Kooser

Eclipse Season
by Tracy Fuad

after Iris Cushing
There is no empire in nerve.
When I come home, I roam the map.
My cursor lands on Truth or Consequences,
and I read facts about Titanic till I’m blue.

When I come home I’ve roamed the map.
I tell my love what I have done Wyoming.
The facts stack up titanic and I blue.
I don’t know what I love now, he tells me.

I’ve done it, told my love Wyoming.
Bit the corner off a dumpling before cooking.
I don’t know if I love you, I should say.
I want to see if there’s a mark left later.

I bit the corner off this dumb thing.
What was left behind and then uncovered?
I want to see the mark that I felt later.
When I got home my love was thinned obscure.

Left behind and then uncovered,
by noon the moon had taken the blue stage.
My homeland, love, has been obscured, smeared
into surrounding states. Grass was growing greener.

By two the moon had exited the stage.
I preen into my screen and blue but I am gone.
Grass was growing green where I should be,
bared beneath the briefly darkening desert.

I preen into a blue screen where I’ve gone,
a darkened noon, Wyoming under shadow,
briefly spared beneath the blackening desert,
an earth threaded with crescent meaning.

At noon Wyoming slides from under shadow.
I want to pull the fabric back, to see the other cloth.
The threads I tend with meaning:
dirt on my head, I should die, I would say.

I pulled the fabric back and saw the other cloth.
Beneath us is a net of empire sewn with nerve.
Dirt in my mouth, I will die.
I asked you for your weather, then your liver.

more than ever
let us be the ones
who will not turn away.
Let us be the ones
who will go
farther into the wreck
and deeper into the rubble.
Let us be the ones
who will enter into the places
of devastation beyond belief
and despair beyond our imagining.

And there let us listen
for the Spirit that brooded
over the formless darkness,
and there let us look again
for the God who gathered up the chaos
and began to create.
Let us be the ones
who will give ourselves
to the work of making again
and to the endless beginning
of creation.
– Jan Richardson

At the New York City AIDS Memorial
by Stefania Gomez
Your absence is a bisected city
block where a hospital once stood.
The footprint of a yellow house on Providence’s east side
we once shared. Demolished. A white pickup you drove
decorated with black dice. The ground beneath it
crumbled—poof—then paved over, engraved like verses
into stone. When I was told what happened to you,
I sank to the wet floor of a bar’s bathroom, furious
that you left us to reassemble ourselves
from rubble. To build, between subway stops,
some saccharine monument
pigeons shit on, empty except for a circle of queens
chattering, furnishing the air like ghosts. Your death
means I’m always equidistant from you,
no matter where I travel, where I linger,
misguided, hopeful. Last night, by candle light,
a woman unearthed me.
Together, she and I grieved
the impossibility of disappearing
into one another. Poof. Since you died,
erasure obsesses me. Among the photos at the memorial,
one of a banner that reads WHERE IS YOUR RAGE?
young men. Your face in each. Your beautiful face

Where are we going?
It’s not an issue of here or there.
And if you ever feel you can’t
take another step, imagine
how you might feel to arrive,
if not wiser, a little more aware
how to inhabit the middle ground
between misery and joy.
Trudge on. In the higher regions,
where the footing is unsure,
to trudge is to survive.
– Stephen Dunn

There is a wave of gratefulness because people are becoming aware how important this is and how this can change our world. It can change our world in immensely important ways, because if you’re grateful, you’re not fearful, and if you’re not fearful, you’re not violent. If you’re grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not of a sense of scarcity, and you are willing to share. If you are grateful, you are enjoying the differences between people, and you are respectful to everybody, and that changes this power pyramid under which we live.
– David Steindl-Rast

What has been an ancient spiritual truth is now increasingly verified by science: We are all indivisibly part of one another. We share a common ancestry with everyone and everything alive on earth.

The air we breathe contains atoms that have passed through the lungs of ancestors long dead. Our bodies are composed of the same elements created deep inside the furnaces of long-dead stars.

We can look upon the face of anyone or anything around us and say—as a moral declaration and a spiritual, cosmological, and biological fact: You are a part of me I do not yet know.

– Valarie Kaur

A soft snow converts me
before my eyes, ironic and sober
into the dogma of the landscape that announces
a voice, a passing car,
and though within what I see and touch
I sense that something far-off is fleeing.
– Fina García Marruz

blue over yellow /
sky awakens sunflowers /
thunder brings no rain
– Greg Sellers

even the magnolias, vulnerable each
spring, court a delicious despair, and still burst their creamy
fat blossoms like spark plugs for the living.
– Major Jackson

Fortunately, some are born with spiritual immune systems that sooner or later give rejection to the illusory worldview grafted upon them from birth through social conditioning. They begin sensing that something is amiss, and start looking for answers. Inner knowledge and anomalous outer experiences show them a side of reality others are oblivious to, and so begins their journey of awakening.
Each step of the journey is made by following the heart instead of following the crowd and by choosing knowledge over the veils of ignorance.
– Henri Bergson

When a man has fury in his bones he can do wild things, some of them fiercer than what he is, and sometimes afterward he wakes to what he has done, and if the waking is graceful he can make it right with his atonement. But when a man has crossed past fury, silently and without his knowing, so that somewhere in the night he crosses over into the cold and shimmering country of indifference, the barren country where he looks up into the stars and knows only the cold fire of continuance, the pith of wintering in things, then he has come to a place where he himself is the wild thing that will undo him, and he is no more himself than the snow that will cover him in oblivion, and he blows through the land and his own bones like the snow itself, and wherever he drifts he is banished, and wherever he arrives he will never return, and wherever he travels, he is never there.
– Joseph Fasano

A Country in the Shape of a Puddle, on the Map
by Ludmila Khersonsky (trans. Valzhyna Mort)

A country in the shape of a puddle, on the map.

Any country is an easy target in March,
in June, July, August, September, October,
as long as it rains
and maps litter the street.

Stop, who goes there, General Oaken Knees.
Red Square of his naked chest shines the way.
And behind him, a half-shadow, half-man,
half-orphan, half-exile, whose mouth is as coarse
as his land –
double-land where every cave is at war.

Do you say there won’t be a war? I say nothing.

A small gray person cancels
this twenty first century,
adjusts his country’s clocks
for the winter war.

Tin by Jane Hirshfield
I studied much and remembered little.
But the world is generous, it kept offering figs and cheeses.
Never mind that soon I’ll have to give it all back,
the world, the figs.
To be a train station of existence is no small matter.
It doesn’t need to be Grand Central or Haydarpaşa Station.
The engine shed could be low, windowed with coal dust
under a slat-shingled roof. It could be tin.
Another mystery bandaged with rivets and rubies.
Leaking cold and heat in both directions, as the earth does.

We are, in some deep sense, what we love — we become it as much as it becomes us, beckoned from our myriad conscious and unconscious longings, despairs, and patterned desires. And yet there is something profoundly paradoxical about such an appeal to reason in the notion that we can exercise prudence in matters of love — to have loved is to have known the straitjacket of irrationality that slips over even the most willful mind when the heart takes over with its delicious carelessness.
– Maria Popova

Us the most fleeting of all. Just once,
everything, only for once. Once and no more. And we too,
once. And never again. But this
having been once, though only once,
having been once on earth—can it ever be cancelled?
– Rainer Maria Rilke

Be my guide
when I’m lost,
and alone.
From your distance
bring me close
to the bone.
Ride with me where I must go.
Dream in me what I must see.
Be what I cannot be.
Be almost me
– Ursula K. Le Guin

Perhaps I can say this all more simply; I say the love of women healed me.
– Audre Lorde

For any spark to make a song it must be transformed by pressure. There must be unspeakable need, muscle of belief, and wild, unknowable elements. I am singing a song that can only be born after losing a country.
– Joy Harjo

Tomas Transtromer | October 25, 2011

From March 1979
Sick of those who come with words, words but no language,
I make my way to the snow-covered island.

Wilderness has no words. The unwritten pages
stretch out in all directions.

I come across this line of deer-slots in the snow: a language,
language without words.

– Translated by Robin Robertson

Your Beauty is Overwhelming
by Namomi Shihab Nye

Taking to the streets
Taking a risk
Marching with placards
Wearing white shirts
On the other side of the world
You can’t hear us cheering for you
We can’t hear the conversations in your kitchens
What else are people supposed to do with voices?
But use them? Use them? Use them?

Super glue was originally intended
as an emergency field suture to prevent
soldiers from bleeding to death.
The project was a partial success—

it kept them from bleeding to death
but poisoned their blood, killed them anyway.

Relationships can be just like that.
When one is sick, trying to save it
can poison your everything.

To be happy, we must all
learn to be surgeons, to cut
away that which cannot be cured.
– Jared Singer

Ice Storm by Robert Hayden

Unable to sleep, or pray, I stand
by the window looking out
at moonstruck trees a December storm
has bowed with ice.

Maple and mountain ash bend
under its glassy weight,
their cracked branches falling upon
the frozen snow.

The trees themselves, as in winters past,
will survive their burdening,
broken thrive. And am I less to You,
my God, than they?

One Way or Another
by Maya C. Popa
it is you who leaves. So I set out
to read for signs of imminence,
the same river twice stepped in.
Morning rises gently on the harbor;
our letters come disguised as life.
We know the score but fracture
on fact. We sign a dotted line
made out of promise—the pipes
in November clanging on with heat,
the window left at night a little open.
I love you; then what? Hands
suddenly alive. I plead with time,
adamant, remorseless. So we begin
in earnest; what then? I plead
with time, adamant, remorseless.
Hands suddenly alive. I love you;
then what? The pipes in November
clanging on with heat, the window
left at night a little open. We sign
a dotted line made out of promise—
we know the score but fracture
on fact. Our letters come disguised
as life; morning rises gently on
the harbor. So I set out to read
for signs of imminence, the same
river twice stepped in. One way
or another, it is you who leaves.

Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement . . .
to get up in the morning and look at the world
in a way that takes nothing for granted.

Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible.
Never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.

– Abraham Joshua Heschel

I have come to the frightening conclusion
that I am the decisive element.

It is my personal approach that
creates the climate.

It is my daily mood that makes the

I possess tremendous power to make life
miserable or joyous.

I can be a tool of torture or an
instrument of inspiration.

I can humiliate or humor,
hurt or heal.

In all situations it is my response that
decides whether a crisis is escalated or deescalated,
and a person is humanized or dehumanized.

If we treat people as they ought to be,
we help them become what they are capable of becoming.

– Attributed in various places to both
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
and in others to Dr. Haim Ginott

Competition today is tantamount to a blood sport—
and not just on the playing field or in the ring.

The psychoanalytic theorist Karen Horney introduced
the concept of hyper-competitiveness
as a neurotic personality trait almost 70 years ago.
She characterized the hyper-competitive
coping strategy as “moving against people”
(in contrast to moving toward or away from people).
Her observations are now all too evident in our culture.
Extreme us-versus-them behavior has created a lonely world.
There is always some new adversary to move against,
so we get locked into a vicious circle of measuring our strength
by disparaging others.

Competition is natural, a part of the human arsenal for survival,
but when it creates enmity, we need to question its power in our lives.

This is where sympathetic joy — joy in the happiness of others — comes in.
If we’re in a competitive frame of mind, when something good happens
to someone else, we think it somehow diminishes us.
It doesn’t really, of course, but being consumed with jealousy
and envy clouds our judgment. Even when we’re not in the running,
extreme competitiveness makes us feel as if we were.

If we approach life from a place of scarcity,
a mind-set that emphasizes what we lack instead of what we have,
then anyone who has something we want becomes the enemy.

If we approach life from a place of scarcity,
a mind-set that emphasizes what we lack instead of what we have,
then anyone who has something we want becomes the enemy.

As Buddhist monk Nyanaponika Thera says,

“It is compassion that removes the heavy bar,
opens the door to freedom,
makes the narrow heart as wide as the world…”

Looking closely at the life of someone we consider to be the competition,
we are bound to see hardships that the person has endured
or understand how tenuous status and good fortune can be.
When we can connect with a perceived enemy on the level of human suffering,
winning or losing seems less important.

A few years ago I led a meditation group at an elementary school in Washington, D.C.
The walls of the school corridors were plastered with homilies:
Treat people the way you would like to be treated.
Play fair. Don’t hurt others on the inside or the outside.
The message that stopped me short, however, was
Everyone can play.
– Sharon Salzberg

I thought the sun breaking through Sangre de Cristo
Mountains was enough, and that
wild musky scents on my body after
long nights of dreaming could
unfold me to myself.
I thought my dance alone through worlds of
odd and eccentric planets that no one else knew
would sustain me. I mean
I did learn to move
after all
and how to recognize voices other than the most familiar.
But you must have grown out of
a thousand years dreaming
just like I could never imagine you.
You must have
broke open from another sky
to here, because
now I see you as a part of the millions of
other universes that I thought could never occur
in this breathing.
– Joy Harjo

What happened is, we grew lonely
living among the things,
so we gave the clock a face,
the chair a back,
the table four stout legs
which will never suffer fatigue.

We fitted our shoes with tongues
as smooth as our own
and hung tongues inside bells
so we could listen
to their emotional language,

and because we loved graceful profiles
the pitcher received a lip,
the bottle a long, slender neck.

Even what was beyond us
was recast in our image;
we gave the country a heart,
the storm an eye,
the cave a mouth
so we could pass into safety.

– Lisel Mueller

I don’t speak his language. He’s good with words and I don’t trust them.
– Miyuki Takeda

I’m learning you, I’m memorizing you. Deep in your eyes,
– Violette Leduc

One day in blue-moon September,
Silent under a plum tree,
I held her, my silent pale love
in my arms like a fair and lovely dream.

Above us in the summer skies,
Was a cloud that caught my eye.
It was so white and high up,
and when I looked up, it was no longer there.

And since that moment, many a September
Came sailing in, then floated down the stream.
No doubt the plum trees were cut down for timber
And if you ask what happened to my dream
I shall reply: I cannot now remember.

Though what you have in mind I surely know.
And yet her face: I really don’t recall it.
I just recall I kissed long ago.

Even the kiss would have been long forgotten
If that white cloud had not been in the sky.
I know the cloud, and shall know it forever,
It was pure white and, oh, so very high.

Perhaps the plum trees still are there and blooming.
Perhaps that woman has six children too.
But that white cloud bloomed only for a moment:
When I looked up, it vanished in the blue.
– Bertolt Brecht

It’s morning; there’s lamplight, and the room is still.
All night as we slept, memory flowed
Onto the brain shore. Memories rise and fall
And leave behind a delicate openness to death.

Almost a longing to die. That longing
Is like rain on canyon ground, only droplets.
And the brain is like brown sand, it stretches
On and on, and it absorbs the rain.

What is a poem? ‘Oh it is some remembering,’
A woman said to me. ‘Thousands of years ago,
When I stood by a grave, a woman handed
Me a small bone made red with ochre.’

It was a poem about heaven, and I wept so.

– Robert Bly

True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in, and belonging to, yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require that you change who you are. It requires that you be who you are.
– Brené Brown

For the transcendent personality all walls are doors, and the whole world is a gate. This is the secret of Zen, which reveals how differently the east and the west view the mystery of life. The occidental, seeking for salvation, has been taught that the gate which leads to eternal life is small and narrow; difficult to find.

The Zen priest believes that the gate which leads to eternal life is so broad that it is no gate at all. It is everywhere. All life is forever flowing through it. It is the ‘gateless gate.’

Man cannot find it because he cannot realize that space itself is the doorway to eternity. He is looking for a small door through life, when life itself is the doorway. The transcendent personality goes and comes through the ‘gateless gate,’ gradually revealing through the life he lives, the life that is living him.

– Manly P. Hall

How to describe…
by Ludmila Khersonsky (trans. Valzhyna Mort)

How to describe a human other than he’s alone –
what to add that he himself won’t guess to add?
Pockets full of posies? A little lamb for Mary?
What else is there to cast at a man?

A human is alone whether he dies or
snores. What else to say about a sleeping man?

A man is sleeping or simply turned to a wall?
A man turned to a wall not to see his nation.

Another turned to a wall between four walls,
a man who turned to a wall, weary of war.
Ear of the war: so much noise from a single man,
as if a whale was birthed into a common shell,
as if fear was trapped in the heart’s punchbag.
A lonely human is dust,
where to run from dust?
Where the nose points? But a person needs lunch.
A roof over his head, a sun over his head, and also to laugh.
Blood over his head, and also to bleed,
one man for all man.

No man for one man. Anybody? No one.

A man in trouble, in death, in office, in line,
in vogue, in disguise, in fight: everywhere alone.
A brown-haired man, a redhead, a blond,
a white man, a black man, a rainbow-man,
one person: singled red with sorrow, by one wall.

I used to be afraid of just two things: being alone, and not being able to write.
– Florian Menckel von Donnersmarck

I breathe alone until my dark is bright.
– Theodore Roethke

so Nature’s wastefulness seems quietly obscene.
It’s been doing that all week:
making beauty,
and throwing it away,
and making more.
– Tony Hoagland

This is where I get self-conscious about language,
words are love-affairs or séances or harpoons, there isn’t a sentence
that isn’t a plea.

This is where I don’t care that I’m half wrong when I say everything
is made entirely of light.
– Bob Hicok

There is a Zen story about a monk who, having failed to achieve enlightenment through the normal Zen methods, was told by his teacher to think of nothing but an ox. Day after day after day, the monk thought of the ox, visualized the ox, meditated on the ox.
Finally, one day, the teacher came to the monk’s cell and said, “Come out here – I want to talk to you.”
“I can’t get out,” the monk said. “My horns won’t fit through the door.”
I can’t get out . . . At these words, the monk was enlightened. Never mind what enlightenment means, right now. The monk went through some species of brain change, obviously. He had developed the delusion that he was an ox, and awakening from that hypnoidal state he saw through the mechanism of all other delusions and how they robotize us.
– Robert Anton Wilson, Prometheus Rising

The point of life is to make every single little thing we do a present to our world. If things go badly, we learn from them, and soften our hearts away from arrogance. If things go well, we celebrate mentor, and share.
– Waylon Lewis