Thursday, October 7, 2021

to bow

 

To which direction shall we bow,
to what sacred space, shrine or God,
if not to the bowing itself?









Pir Elias Amidon
Free Medicine
Photo:  Peter Bowers






learning from trees


If we could,
like the trees,
practice dying,
do it every year
just as something we do—
like going on vacation
or celebrating birthdays,
it would become
as easy a part of us
as our hair or clothing.

Someone would show us how
to lie down and fade away
as if in deepest meditation,
and we would learn
about the fine dark emptiness,
both knowing it and not knowing it,
and coming back would be irrelevant.

Whatever it is the trees know
when they stand undone,
surprisingly intricate,
we need to know also
so we can allow
that last thing
to happen to us
as if it were only
any ordinary thing,

...





Grace Butcher
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Wednesday, October 6, 2021

heartbreak


is unpreventable; the natural outcome of caring for people and things over which we have no control, of holding in our affections those who inevitably move beyond our line of sight.

Heartbreak begins the moment we are asked to let go but cannot, in other words, it colours and inhabits and magnifies each and every day; heartbreak is not a visitation, but a path that human beings follow through even the most average life.  Heartbreak is an indication of our sincerity: in 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 just as much an essence and emblem of care as the spiritual athlete's quick but abstract ability to let go. Heartbreak has its own way of inhabiting time and its own beautiful and trying patience in coming and going.

Heartbreak is how we mature; yet we use the word heartbreak as if it only occurs when things have gone wrong: an unrequited love, a shattered dream, a child lost before their time. Heartbreak, we hope, is something we hope we can avoid; something to guard against, a chasm to be carefully looked for and then walked around; the hope is to find a way to place our feet where the elemental forces of life will keep us in the manner to which we want to be accustomed and which will keep us from the losses that all other human beings have experienced without exception since the beginning of conscious time. 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.

Our hope to circumvent heartbreak in adulthood is beautifully and ironically child-like; heartbreak is as inescapable and inevitable as breathing, a part and parcel of every path, asking its due in every sincere course an individual takes, it may be that there may be not only no real life without the raw revelation of heartbreak, but no single path we can take within a life that will allow us to escape without having that imaginative organ we call the heart broken by what it holds and then has to let go.

In a sobering physical sense, every heart does eventually break, as the precipitating reason for death or because the rest of the body has given up before it and can no longer sustain its steady beat, but hearts also break in an imaginative and psychological sense: there is almost no path a human being can follow that does not lead to heartbreak. A marriage, a committed vow to another, even in the most settled, loving relationship, will always break our hearts at one time or another; a successful marriage has often had its heart broken many times just in order for the couple to stay together; parenthood, no matter the sincerity of our love for a child, will always break the mold of our motherly or fatherly hopes, a good work seriously taken, will often take everything we have and still leave us wanting; and finally even the most self compassionate, self examination should, if we are sincere, lead eventually to existential disappointment.

Realizing its inescapable nature, we can see heartbreak not as the end of the road or the cessation of hope but as the close embrace of the essence of what we have wanted or are about to lose.  It is the hidden DNA of our relationship with life, outlining outer forms even when we do not feel it by the intimate physical experience generated by it absence; it can also ground us truly in whatever grief we are experiencing, set us to planting a seed with what we have left or appreciate what we have built even as we stand in its ruins.

If heartbreak is inevitable and inescapable, it might be asking us to look for it and make friends with it, to see it as our constant and instructive companion, and perhaps, in the depth of its impact as well as in its hindsight, and even, its own reward.  Heartbreak asks us not to look for an alternative path, because there is no alternative path.  It is an introduction to what we love and have loved, an inescapable and often beautiful question, something and someone that has been with us all along, asking us to be ready for the ultimate letting go.





David Whyte
Consolations
The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Tuesday, September 21, 2021

how to fall in love


When you shift your focus
from what is absent
to what is present,
from what is missing
to what has been given,
from what you are not
to who you are,
from the ravages of linear time
to the immediacy of Now,
you are reconnecting
with love, truth and beauty,
and abundance is yours,
effortlessly.

For in truth,
nothing is lacking where you are,
nothing is missing from the present scene of the movie of your life,
and you are forever full,
and at the point of completion.

The only reason
you cannot find Oneness
is because you never left.

The day is just waiting to be lived.

So breathe in life, friend,
breathe in life.





Jeff Foster




Tuesday, September 7, 2021

relief

 

The only thing we know about death is the moment when the whole fear construct falls away and then rises again and the shock of me-ness occurs.  If we really pay attention to it, we will see that the me is fear.

This moment and the death process are the same. You will always meet death here.  Here is always the opportunity to surrender and to experience something that you don't know about. The relief of death is the relief from living in fear, the relief from the burden of the known. That is available here. Right now. And it will always be. And the one opportunity to take the one action that you can take will always be here and now. That is to surrender to what is. 





Steven Harrison
What's Next After Now
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Tuesday, August 31, 2021

the role i play

 

Life While-You-Wait.
Performance without rehearsal.
Body without alterations.
Head without premeditation.

I know nothing of the role I play.
I only know it's mine, I can't exchange it.

I have to guess on the spot
just what this play's all about.

Ill prepared for the privilege of living,
I can barely keep up with the pace that the action demands.
I improvise, although I loathe improvisation.
I trip at every step over my own ignorance.
I can't conceal my hayseed manners.
My instincts are for hammy histrionics.
Stage fright makes excuses for me, which humiliate me more.
Extenuating circumstances strike me as cruel.

Words and impulses you can't take back,
stars you'll never get counted,
your character like a raincoat you button on the run - 
the pitiful results of all this unexpectedness.

If I could just rehearse one Wednesday in advance,
or repeat a single Thursday that has passed!
But here comes Friday with a script I haven't seen.
Is it fair, I ask
(my voice a little hoarse,
since I couldn't even clear my throat offstage).

You'd be wrong to think that it's just a slapdash quiz
taken in makeshift accommodations. Oh no.
I'm standing on the set and I see how strong it is. 
The props are surprisingly precise.
The machine rotating the stage has been around even longer.
The farthest galaxies have been turned on.
Oh no, there' s no question, this must be the premiere.
And whatever I do
will become forever what I've done. 





Wislawa Szymborska
Photo:  Peter Bowers






Sunday, July 25, 2021

pride


If I claim I was a terrible, horrible,
Evil no-good person,
It would be a lie, and it would be
Wanting always to be the best or the worst.
So now I'm destined to wander,
My bag full of pride a lot lighter,
And if I say I am done
With whatever ails me,
That would also be a lie.
I am not done, will never be done
Till the day I die,
But I am content to be human,
Naked and shaking with love
At the moment, and the next moment,
I just can't say.




Noelle Kocot
Photo: Peter Bowers





Wednesday, July 7, 2021

next time


Next time what I'd do is look at 
the earth before saying anything. I'd stop
just before going into a house
and be an emperor for a minute
and listen better to the wind
  or to the air being still.

When anyone talked to me, whether
blame or praise or just passing time,
I'd watch the face, how the mouth
had to work, and see any strain, any
sign of what lifted the voice.

And for all, I'd know more - the earth
bracing itself and soaring, the air 
finding every leaf and feather over
forest and water, and for every person
the body glowing inside the clothes
  like a light. 





William Stafford
Photo:  Peter Bowers





Friday, July 2, 2021

practice


The world you see is just a movie in your mind.
Rocks don't see it.
Bless and sit down.
Forgive and forget.
Practice kindness all day to everybody
and you will realize you're already 
in heaven now.
That's the story.
That's the message.
Nobody understands it,
nobody listens, they're
all running around like chickens with heads cut
off.  I will try to teach it but it will 
be in vain, s'why I'll 
end up in a shack
praying and being
cool and singing 
by my woodstove
making pancakes.





Jack Kerouac
Photo: Peter Bowers






Tuesday, June 29, 2021

discontinuous poems


The frightful reality of things
Is my everyday discovery.
Each thing is what it is.
How can I explain to anyone how much
I rejoice over this, and find it enough?

To be whole, it is enough to exist.

I have written quite a number of poems
And may write many more, of course.
Each poem of mine explains it,
Though all my poems are different,
Because each thing that exists is always proclaiming it.

Sometimes I busy myself with watching a stone,
I don’t begin thinking whether it feels.
I don’t force myself to call it my sister,

But I enjoy it because of its being a stone,
I enjoy it because it feels nothing,
I enjoy it because it is not at all related to me.

At times I also hear the wind blow by
And find that merely to hear the wind blow makes
  it worth having been born.

I don’t know what others will think who read this;
But I find it must be good because I think it
  without effort,
And without the idea of others hearing me think,
Because I think it without thoughts,
Because I say it as my words say it.

Once they called me a materialist poet
And I admired myself because I never thought
That I might be called by any name at all.
I am not even a poet: I see.
If what I write has any value, it is not I who am
  valuable.
The value is there, in my verses.
All this has nothing whatever to do with any will
  of mine.





Fernando Pessoa 
(writing under the heteronym Alberto Caeiro)
translation: Edouard Roditi
with thanks: love is a place






Friday, June 25, 2021

to begin with, the sweet grass


1.
Will the hungry ox stand in the field and not eat
  of the sweet grass?
Will the owl bite off its own wings?
Will the lark forget to lift its body in the air or
  forget to sing?
Will the rivers run upstream?

Behold, I say - behold
the reliability and the finery and the teachings
  of this gritty earth gift.

2.
Eat bread and understand comfort.
Drink water, and understand delight.
Visit the garden where the scarlet trumpets
  are opening their bodies for the hummingbirds
who are drinking the sweetness, who are
  thrillingly gluttonous.

For one thing leads to another.
Soon you will notice how stones shine underfoot.
Eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in.

And someone's face, whom you love, will be as a star
both intimate and ultimate,
and you will be both heart-shaken and respectful.

And you will hear the air itself, like a beloved, whisper:
oh, let me, for a while longer, enter the two
beautiful bodies of your lungs.

3.
The witchery of living
is my whole conversation
with you, my darlings
All I can tell you is what I know.

Look, and look again.
This world is not just a little thrill for the eyes.

It's more than bones.
It's more than the delicate wrist with its personal pulse.
It's more than the beating of the single heart.
It's praising.
It's giving until the giving feels like receiving.
You have a life - just imagine that!
You have this day, and maybe another, and maybe
  still another.

4.
Someday I am going to ask my friend Paulus,
the dancer, the potter,
to make me a begging bowl
which I believe
my soul needs.

And if I come to you,
to the door of your comfortable house
with unwashed clothes and unclean fingernails,
will you put something into it?

I would like to take this chance.
I would like to give you this chance.

5.
We do one thing or another; we stay the same, or we
  change.
Congratulations, if
  you have changed.

6.
Let me ask you this.
Do you think that beauty exists for some
  fabulous reason?

And, if you have not been enchanted by this adventure -
  your life -
what would do for you?

7.
What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself.
Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to.
That was many years ago.
Since then I have gone out from my confinements,
  though with difficulty.

I mean the ones that thought to rule my heart.
I cast them out, I put them on the mush pile.
They will be nourishment somehow (everything is nourishment
somehow or another.)

And I have become the child of clouds, and of hope.
I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.
I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,
I have become younger.

And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?
Love yourself.  Then forget it.  Then, love the world.





Mary Oliver
Evidence
photo:  Peter Bowers





Saturday, June 12, 2021

natural and simple


Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.





Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Photo:  Peter Bowers
with thanks: Love is a Place