Saturday, June 12, 2021

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

Monday, April 12, 2021

first breath

As soon as she is born - she, 
he - the moment the newborn breathes
for the first time, taking, from the general
supply, some air, pulling it down
half her length, into the base of the
lobe which had first existed as a mattery
idea, and then had become the folded
lung, which lay in blue wait;
as soon as the sky
is drawn in, like a
petal expanding, in fast motion,
opening into the new being -
oxygen, where it had never been,
taking the neonate's bluish shade
back into the empyrean;
as soon as she's taken the good of one breath, 
and given back the rest - look,
she is dying. I mean she is living - for a time,
maybe ninety years - but she
is on her way, now, to that ending.
She had never died at all, until now,
never before been offered the human work.

Sharon Olds
Photo:  Peter Bowers
with thanks Love is a Place

Friday, March 12, 2021

the teachers

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,
         such stillness.

Mary Oliver
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.

Stephen and Ondrea Levine
Excerpt: Who Dies?
Photo:  Peter Bowers


Friday, February 5, 2021

at the seven-mile ranch, comstock, texas

I live like I know what I'm doing.

When I hand the horses a square of hay,
when I walk the road of stones 
or chew on cactus pulp,
there's a drumming behind me,
the day opens up to let me pass through.

I know the truth,
how always I'm following each small sign that appears.

This sheep that materialized behind a clump of cenizo bushes
knows I didn't see him till he raised his head.

Out here it's impossible to be lonely.
The land walking beside you is your oldest friend,
pleasantly silent, like already you've told the best stories
and each of you knows how much the other made up.

Naomi Shihab Nye
Photo:  Peter Bowers
with thanks: A Year of Being Here

Thursday, January 28, 2021


"Well... ...That's what you always forget, isn't it? I mean, you forget to pay attention to what's happening. And that's the same as not being here and now."

Aldous Huxley,  Island

If this were the last time we met in this world 
what would I wish I had said     or done?
I know death is always somewhere in the neighborhood
for someone as old as I,
just as I know, no matter how much I might beg,
God would never forbid you might die.

There is no perfect word to speak,
no perfect deed to perform.
When after today I have left or am left,
if I am never to see you again,
then I just want to be fully here    now,
to be fully awake while we may.

There will be time for sleep after today.

Ron Stone
Photo: Peter Bowers
with thanks: A Year of Being Here