Tuesday, December 30, 2014

For Longing

Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder

May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.

May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.

May the forms of your belonging - in love, creativity, and friendship -  
Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.

May the one you long for long for you.

May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.

May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.

May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness 
with which your body inhabits the world.  

May your heart never be haunted by ghost structures
of old damage.

May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.

May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.  

John O'Donohue
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Lute music

Let us celebrate

The Earth will be going on a long time
Before it finally freezes;
Men will be on it; they will take names, 
Give their deeds reasons.
We will be here only 
As chemical constituents - 
A small franchise indeed.

Right now we have lives,
Corpuscles, Ambitions, Caresses,
Like everybody had once - 
Here at the year's end, at the feast
Of birth, let us bring to each other
The gifts brought once west through deserts - 
The precious metal of our mingled hair, 
The frankincense of enraptured arms and legs, 
The myrrh of desperate, invincible kisses - 

Let us celebrate the daily
Recurrent nativity of love,
The endless epiphany of our fluent selves,
While the earth rolls away under us
Into unknown snows and summers,
Into untraveled spaces of the stars.

Kenneth Rexroth
Photo:  Peter Bowers

A Christmas Hallelujah

Saturday, December 13, 2014

ring the bells

Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
There is a crack in everything,
That's how the light gets in.  

Leonard Cohen

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


welcome home
welcome to the home never left
you have always lived here
will always live here
        this is home, forever...
so stop now
no effort is required
even during all journeys
you have always been here
        this is home, forever...
so relax now
the fire is in the hearth
this inner fire is keeping you warm
the storms outside cannot touch you 
        this is home, forever...
so rest now
everyone loved is right here
we have always lived here
will always live here
        this is home, forever...

Gifts with No Giver
a love affair with truth

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Again I resume the long
lesson:  how small a thing
can be pleasing, how little
in this hard world it takes
to satisfy the mind
and bring it to its rest.

Within the ongoing havoc
the woods this morning is
almost unnaturally still.
Through stalled air, unshadowed
light, a few leaves fall
of their own weight.

The sky
is gray.  It begins in mist
almost at the ground
and rises forever.  The trees
rise in silence almost
natural, but not quite,
almost eternal, but
not quite.
What more did I
think I wanted?  Here is
what has always been.
Here is what will always
be.  Even in me,
the  Maker of all this
returns in rest, even
to the slightest of His works,
a yellow leaf slowly
falling, and is pleased. 

Wendell Berry


Learn by little the desire for all things
which perhaps is not desire at all
but undying love which perhaps
is not love at all but gratitude
for the being of things which perhaps
is not gratitude at all
but the maker's joy in what is made,
the joy in which we come to rest.

Wendell Berry

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Lie down

Take off the backpack
Lie down in the long grass.
Pull up the blue sky-blanket.

So many years of Dharma practice,
Straight-spine diligence, straining toward
This hillside.
Just this.

Lie down in the long grass.
Let the earth take you.
Deer track and horse dung
and the eye within the eye,
revolving and luminous.

I never knew this.
Did no one ever tell me?

I remember my Zen master in the interview room,
'Trust yourself,' he said.  'Just be yourself.'

I think his meaning was this:

Take off the backpack,
Lie down in the long grass.
Let the sky take you.
Breathe space
into space
into space.

I never knew there was this much light! 

Helen Dhara Gatling-Austin
Photo:  Peter Morgan

nothing into nothing



A thousand times I have ascertained
and found it to be true:  the affairs of
this world are really nothing into

Still though, we should dance.

Photo:  Peter Morgan

Monday, October 20, 2014

One Great Thing

And I thought over again 
My small adventures
As with a shore-wind I drifted out
In my kayak
And thought I was in danger,

My fears,
Those small ones that I thought so big
For all the vital things 
I  had to get and to reach.

And yet, there is only
One great thing,
The only thing:
To live to see in huts and on journeys
The great day that dawns,
And the light that fills the world.

Inuit Song
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Saturday, October 18, 2014

This Shines On

This shines on
whether I'm in bitch mode or radiating benevolence
whether I'm depressed or enjoying equanimity
whether I'm achingly weary or frolicking tirelessly.

This shines on
whether my bookshelves are stacked with scriptures, chick-lit, crime or porn
whether my shoes are microfiber or leather, my coat cotton or mink 
whether my fridge is piously vegan or robustly carnivore.

This shines on
whether my philosophical tendencies veer towards the scientific and secular
or the mystical and metaphysical
whether I'm a closet optimist disguised as a cynic
or a knee-jerk nay-sayer, jus sayin 

Don't be fooled.  This shines on
- pristine, incorruptible - 

This shines on
whether you agree with me as you scan these words
or jump to defend your own view
whether you accept me as a flicker of the vast Light we are
or turn your back on our inextricable intimacy.  

This shines on
and in, and from, and through, every perception,
every experience and every face and fact of World
known by human and non-human Knowingness
(and I exclude nothing, no thing in creation
from that capacity for Knowingness.)

This shines on
The sages call it Reality, but beware:  it's not a thing, an object
or even a state.  To name it is to turn from it, but it could care less.

It shines on regardless.

Photo:  Peter Bowers

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness

Every year we have been
witness to it:  how the
world descends

into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay, 
knowing as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don't say
it's easy, but
what else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?

So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,

though the sun be swinging east, 
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

Mary Oliver
Photo:  Peter Bowers

And Bob Dylan Too

"Anything worth thinking about is worth
singing about."

Which is why we have 
songs of praise, songs of love, songs
of sorrow.

Songs to the gods, who have
so many names.

Songs the shepherds sing, on the
lonely mountains, while the sheep
are honoring the grass, by eating it.

The dance-songs of the bees, to tell
where the flowers, suddenly, in the
morning light, have opened.

A chorus of many, shouting to heaven,
or at it, or pleading.

Or that greatest of love affairs, a violin
and a human body.

And a composer, maybe hundreds of years dead.

I think of Schubert, scribbling on a cafe
Thank you, thank you.

Mary Oliver
Photo:  Peter Morgan

Friday, October 10, 2014

Love's Inward Turning

Turn Attention inward, my friend,
Not with the mind...

But with the Heart.

The mind may bestow "knowledge",
Of what you are not. 

But the Heart will bring you to the "Experience"...
Of what you Are.  

For the Heart's Unbearable Longing,
Is "of" that which is Longed for. 

Resting there, in the Heart's Desire, 
The Beloved will inhabit you so fully,

That where She ends and you begin...
Will no longer be discernible.  

And Lover and Beloved will Vanish,
in the Fathomless Ecstasy of their Embrace.

Photo:  Peter Bowers

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

View With a Grain of Sand

We call it a grain of sand
but it calls itself neither grain nor sand.
It does just fine without a name,
whether general, particular,
permanent, passing,
incorrect or apt.

Our glance, our touch mean nothing to it.
It doesn't feel itself seen and touched.
And that it fell on the windowsill
is only our experience, not its.
For it, it is no different than falling on anything else
with no assurance that it has finished falling
or that it is falling still.

The window has a wonderful view of a lake,
but the view doesn't view itself.
It exists in this world
colorless, shapeless,
soundless, odorless, and painless.  

The lake's floor exists floorlessly
and its shore exists shorelessly.
Its water feels itself neither wet nor dry
and its waves to themselves are neither singular nor plural.
They splash deaf to their own noise
on pebbles neither large nor small.

And all this beneath a sky by nature skyless
in which the sun sets without setting at all
and hides without hiding behind an unminding cloud
The wind ruffles it, its only reason being 
that it blows.  

A second passes.
A second second.
A third.
But they're three seconds only for us.

Time has passed like a courier with urgent news.
But that's just our simile.
The character is invented, his haste is make-believe,
his news inhuman.

Wislawa Szymborska
Photo:   Peter Bowers

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

the only teaching

Enlightenment absorbs this universe of qualities.
When that merging occurs, there is nothing
but God.  This is the only doctrine.

There is no word for it, no  mind
to understand it with, no categories
of transcendence or non-transcendence,
no vow of silence, no mystical attitude.

There is no Shiva and no Shakti
in enlightenment, and if there is something
that remains, that whatever-it-is
is the only teaching.

Photo:  Peter Bowers

Monday, October 6, 2014

Who Breathes?

Observe your own body.  It breathes.
You breathe when you are asleep, when you are
no longer conscious of your own ideas of self-identity.
Who, then, is breathing?

The collection of information that you mistakenly
think is you is not the protagonist in this drama
called the breath.
In fact, you are not breathing; breath is naturally
happening to you.  

You can purposely end your own life, but you
cannot purposely keep your own life going.

The expression, "my life" is actually an oxymoron,
a result of ignorance and mistaken assumption.
You don't possess life; life expresses itself
through you.

Your body is a flower that life let bloom,
a phenomenon created by life. 

Ilchi Lee
Photo:  Peter Bowers

And When She Began to Sing

And then she began to sing, and when 
she began to sing, 

there was no one who really heard her
who was not then glad to be alive. 

Photo:  Peter Bowers

Sunday, October 5, 2014


The flute of the infinite is played without ceasing,
and its sound is love.

Photo:  Peter Bowers


Listen, my child, to the silence.
An undulating silence,
a silence
that turns valleys and echoes slippery,
that bends foreheads
toward the ground.

Federico Garcia Lorca
Photo:  Peter Bowers

with thanks: Love is a Place

Tuesday, September 30, 2014



Emanating from the embrace
Of the Goddess and her God
Is a wheel of shimmering divine energies.
This is the sacred spot
Where worship is done.

The center of this wheel
Is right where you are.
Live here, and let your heart stream
With an unending flow of adoration.
In this way, tend the altar of love.  

The Radiance Sutras - 151
Lorin Roche 
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Stand Still

Stand still.  The trees ahead and bushes beside you 
Are not lost.  Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes.  Listen.  It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again saying Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost.  Stand still.  The forest knows
Where you are.  You must let it find you.

David Wagoner
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Monday, September 22, 2014

the real work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work, 
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.  
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Wendell Berry
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Saturday, September 20, 2014

nothing to say

Birth, old age,
Sickness, and death:
From the beginning,
This is the way
Things have always been.
Any thought
Of release from this life
Will wrap you only more tightly
In its snares.
The sleeping person
Looks for a Buddha,
The troubled person
Turns toward meditation.
But the one who knows
That there's nothing to seek
Knows too that there's nothing to say.
She keeps her mouth closed.

Ly Ngoc Kieu
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Friday, September 19, 2014

like a fountain of water...thingness

For me there is no materiality to apparent
materiality.  In our bodies, 3 billion cells a minute are
dying and being reborn.  So our bodies look solid,
but they aren't.  How many minutes have just gone
by and how many cells have died and been reborn?
We're like a fountain.  A fountain of water looks
solid, but you can put your fingers right through it.  
Our bodies look like things, but there's no
thingness to them.  

Li-Young Lee
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I worried

I worried a lot.  Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall 
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it, and I am, well, 

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up.  And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

Mary Oliver
Photo:  Peter Morgan

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Message of the Rain

when i was a child
i was a squirrel a bluejay a fox
and spoke with them in their tongues
climbed their trees dug their dens
and knew the taste 
of every grass and stone
and meaning of the sun
and message of the night

now i am old and past
both work and battle
and know no shame
to go alone to the forest
to speak again to squirrel fox and bird
to taste the world
to find the meaning of the wind
the message of the rain

Norman H. Russell 


The sound of rain needs no translation.

Allan Watts

Happy are those ..

Happy are those who know
behind all words, the Unsayable stands,
and from that source, the Infinite
crosses over to gladness, and us.

Free of those bridges we raise
with constructed distinctions;
so that always, in each separate joy,
we gaze at the single, wholly mutual core.

Grace is not something to be acquired from others.
If it is external, it is useless.
All that is necessary is to know its existence in you.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

drink from this cup

Adorable Goddess,
These practices are a nectar I share with you.
Drink from this cup whenever you are thirsty
Or crave to be refreshed in the essence of life.

Know that this ambrosia is available to you 
Everywhere, for the universe is made out of it.
Simply go to the intersection of flesh and spirit,
Breathe the tiny sparks that fly.

Within this very body
Are many gateways to the infinite,
Where incarnation and immortality
Consummate their passion for each other.

Share these teachings
With all generous-hearted people
Who come your way and ask.

When you meet someone
Whose heart is vibrating
With the flow of love,
Share the teachings without reservation.
Let your words and energies
Be free as your breathing.

Friends, relatives, neighbors, people who abide
in your village, city, country...
Be not concerned with their attitudes
Towards these teachings.
Everyone is discovering the intimate universe 
in their own way.
Openings to this nectar are here
In every breath, every desire, every transition
From waking to sleeping and sleeping to waking.

Once you have set out on the path of intimacy with
The immortal essence of life,
Never turn your back on it, my shining one.
Never turn away.
Though every moment be surprising,
Revelatory, unrecognizable and full of wonder,
Continue to cherish each breath.
Live in gratitude for the supreme nectar we imbibe
In each turning, outbreath to inbreath into outbreath.

Lorin Roche
The Radiance Sutras
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Monday, September 1, 2014


I'm lying on a couch by the open window, listening to a 
warm breeze fluttering the leaves of the sycamore, cars
sighing and grumbling down Broadway with some destination
in mind.  A crow drops elegantly toward the pavement, 
the noon light splintering silver across the tops of his flattened
wings.  The air stills.  An unseen jet rakes the sky with
thunder.  Small tufts of tree-cotton drift by, their progress
hesitant but always angled upward.  In less than a month 
I will have been ill for exactly half my life, a milestone I
could never have imagined reaching with my sanity intact.
I seldom know what I need to be doing, or if I really need to
be here at all.  And yet I am here, and my life is connected
to other lives in ways I cannot fully comprehend.  A ripple 
of breeze presses one leaf against another and another, and
the sound empties and fills my heart with a sensation that
is indistinguishable from love.  I think of Meister Eckhart:
If the only prayer you say in your entire life is thank you, it
will be enough. 

Elizabeth Nordeen

Monday, August 25, 2014

august moon

Staying very still in the darkness,
I became less and less convinced of the fact that I 
actually existed.  

Haruki Murakami
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Friday, August 22, 2014


a practice no one can practice 
abandoning all hope 
free of a doer 
no intention or goal 
accepting and surrendering 
all that arises
going nowhere
for where would one go 
and who is there to go 
giving all to the moment
the moment that cannot be thought 
not knowing, not knowing, not knowing

Billy Doyle
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


I know that nothing has ever been real
without my beholding it.
All becoming has needed me.
My looking ripens things
and they come toward me, to meet and be met. 

Rainer Maria Rilke
Book of Hours
Photo:  with thanks to Peter Morgan

Sunday, July 13, 2014


I think as long as you are a human being 
there is thanking, gratitude for being, 
not for being human, 
but for being
what you fundamentally are.
Thanking for the sake of thanking.

Jean Klein
Transmission of the Flame 
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Friday, June 13, 2014

Nothing's a gift

Nothing's a gift, it's all on loan.
I'm drowning in debts up to my ears.
I'll have to pay for myself
with my self,
give up my life for my life.

Here's how it's arranged:
The heart can be repossessed,
the liver, too,
and each single finger and toe.

Too late to tear up the terms,
my debts will be repaid,
and I'll be fleeced,
or, more precisely, flayed.

I move about the planet
in a crush of other debtors,
some are saddled with the burden
of paying off their wings.
Others must, willy-nilly,
account for every leaf.

Every tissue in us lies
on the debit side.
Not a tentacle or tendril
is for keeps.

The inventory, infinitely detailed,
implies we'll be left
not just empty-handed
but handless too.

I can't remember 
where, when, and why
I let someone open
this account in my name.

We call the protest against this
the soul.
And it's the only item
not included on the list.

Wislawa Szymborska

Sunday, June 1, 2014


I do not feel myself expanded as all that is, 
A part of everything, and everything a part of me. 

Nor do I feel myself as "That" within which all appears,
The Absolute, everything arising within me.

I do not feel "myself" at all.

Unless, by "I" you mean...

Not a thing alive,
But... Aliveness Itself.

Formless Aliveness in samadhi,
Or Aliveness in form...

Show me that place, where one ends, 
And the other begins?

Show me that place,
Where "This" begins and ends?

One thought of "I"...
and Heaven and Earth are divided!