Thursday, December 30, 2021
Friday, December 24, 2021
Monday, December 13, 2021
Monday, November 22, 2021
Sunset On The Last Day Of Hunting Season
Sunday, November 14, 2021
Thursday, October 7, 2021
If we could,
like the trees,
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,
we need to know also
so we can allow
that last thing
to happen to us
as if it were only
any ordinary thing,
Photo: Peter Bowers
Wednesday, October 6, 2021
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.
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
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.
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
Sunday, July 25, 2021
Wednesday, July 7, 2021
Friday, July 2, 2021
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
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
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
The value is there, in my verses.
All this has nothing whatever to do with any will
Friday, June 25, 2021
Saturday, June 12, 2021
Monday, April 12, 2021
Friday, March 12, 2021
Owl in the black morning,
mockingbird in the burning
slants of the sunny afternoon
declare so simply
to the world
everything I have tried but still
haven't been able
to put into words,
so I do not go
far from that school
with its star-bright
or blue ceiling,
and I listen to those teachers,
and others too -
the wind in the trees
and the water waves -
for they are what lead me
from the dryness of self
where I labor
with the mind-steps of language -
lonely, as we all are
in the singular,
I listen hard
to the exuberances
of the mockingbird and the owl,
the waves and the wind.
And then, like peace after perfect speech,
Photo: Peter Bowers
Friday, February 12, 2021
Once someone asked a well-known Thai meditation master, "In this world where everything changes, where nothing remains the same, where loss and grief are inherent in our very coming into existence, how can there be any happiness? How can we find security when we see that we can't count on anything being the way we want it to be?" The teacher, looking compassionately at this fellow, held up a drinking glass which had been given to him earlier in the morning and said, "You see this goblet? For me, this glass is already broken. I enjoy it, I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably, sometimes even reflecting the sun in beautiful patterns. If I should tap it, it has a lovely ring to it. But when I put this glass on a shelf and the wind knocks it over or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, 'Of course.' But when I understand this glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious. Every moment is just as it is and nothing need be otherwise."
When we recognize that, just as that glass, our body is already broken, that indeed we are already dead, then life becomes precious and we open to it just as it is, in the moment it is occurring. When we understand that all our loved ones are already dead - our children, our mates, our friends - how precious they become. How little fear can interpose, how little doubt can estrange us. When you live your life as though you're already dead, life takes on new meaning. Each moment becomes a whole lifetime, a universe unto itself.
When we realize we are already dead, our priorities change, our heart opens, our mind begins to clear of the fog of old holdings and pretendings. We watch all life in transit and what matters becomes instantly apparent: The transmission of love, the letting go of obstacles to understanding, the relinquishment of our grasping, our hiding from ourselves. Seeing the mercilessness of our self-strangulation, we begin to come gently into the light we share with all beings. Taking each teaching, each loss, each gain, each fear, each joy, as it arises and experiencing it fully, life becomes workable...
If our only spiritual practice were to live as though we were already dead, relating to all we meet, to all we do, as though it were our final moments in the world, what time would there be for old games or falsehoods or posturing? If we lived our life as though we were already dead, as though our children were already dead, how much time would there be for self-protection and the re-creation of ancient mirages? Only love would be appropriate, only the truth.