Sunday, November 8, 2009


you may have noticed that "flow" has gone quiet.

quiet is a state flow exists in -
just outside of silence.

but this has been very quiet.

(my main blog)

is consuming much of the energy
and time
that i can devote
to blog writing -
which for me is
the outer edge of my journal writing.

so i am leaving "flow"
alone for a while.

strangely,
and interestingly,

a third blog
has been knocking
at the door
recently
but i have to move slowly
in terms of
answering the door.

it will blend
the golden fish
and flow together
into something
new.

my love to all of you
who have so
generously
read and commented on my posts here.

steven

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

rumi

today marks eight hundred and one years since the birth of the great sufi poet and mystic jalalu'ddin rumi, also known as mevlana. he lived in thirteenth century konya in central turkey, where the mevlevi order of dervishes (commonly known as whirling dervishes) have their origin.




his work was to share a message:

why should i seek?
i am the same as he.
his essence speaks through me.
i have been looking for myself!

much of rumi's writing uses the metaphor of the passion of lovers to describe the relationship between man and God.


the inner pilgrim wraps himself in the light of the holy spirit, transforming his material shape into the inner essence, and circumambulating the shrine of the heart, inwardly reciting the name of God. he moves in circles because the path of the essence is not straight but circular. its end is its beginning. abdul qadir jelani (about ad 1077)






rumi saw inside the metaphor of love and passion and in that seeing he sank deep into the connection between all things in all ways.

it is entirely about love. it is entirely about passion. the terms of those two states become richer and more beautiful as the knowing of them becomes less connected to this earthly existence (needs and wants and expectations) and more about becoming aware of and connected to the wholeness of everything.



if you could get rid of yourself just once, the secret of secrets would open to you. the face of the unknown, hidden beyond the universe would appear on the mirror of your perception.

search, no matter what situation you are in. o thirsty one, search for water constantly. finally, the time will come when you will reach the spring.

the minute i heard my first love story i started looking for you not knowing how blind i was. lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. they’re in each other all along.

and if he closes before you all the ways and passes, he will show you a hidden way which nobody knows.

keep strenuously toiling along this path, do not rest until the last breath; for that last breath may yet bring the blessings from the knower of all things.

like the hunter, the sufi chases game; he sees the tracks left by the musk deer and follows them. for a while it is the tracks which are his clues, but later it is the musk itself which guides him.

choose a master, for without him this journey is full of tribulations, fears, and dangers. with no escort, you would be lost on a road you would have already taken. do not travel alone on the path.

whoever travels without a guide needs two hundred years for a two-days’ journey.

last night my teacher taught me the lesson of poverty: having nothing and wanting nothing.




and a poem



not only the thirsty seek the water, the water as well seeks the thirsty.
the garden of
love
is green without
limit
and yields many
fruits
other than sorrow
and joy.
love is beyond either
condition:
without spring,
without autumn,
it is always fresh.


-- jelaluddin rumi

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

i have been here before



"i have been here before.
but when or how i cannot tell:
i know the grass beyond the door,
the sweet keen smell,
the sighing sound, the lights around the shore."


dante gabriel rossetti sudden light (1854)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

the elevation


it sometimes helps to rise above as much of what we know as "it all" as is possible. the rewards are often short and just as often quickly forgotten. but the feeling of release from the tangled webs of daily life is palpable and healing.

the elevation

above the valleys, over rills and meres,
above the mountains, woods, the oceans, clouds,
beyond the sun, past all ethereal bounds,
beyond the borders of the starry spheres,

my agile spirit, how you take your flight!
like a strong swimmer swooning on the sea
you gaily plough the vast immensity
with manly, inexpressible delight.

fly far above this morbid, vaporous place;
go cleanse yourself in higher, finer air,
and drink up, like a pure, divine liqueur,
bright fire, out of clear and limpid space.

beyond ennui, past troubles and ordeals
tthat load our dim existence with their weight,
happy the strong-winged man, who makes the great
leap upward to the bright and peaceful fields!

the man whose thoughts, like larks, take to their wings
each morning, freely speeding through the air,
- who soars above this life, interpreter
of flowers' speech, the voice of silent things!

charles baudelaire
translated by james mcgowan

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

hazard



welcoming chance as my friend.

to be open to possibilities that come in the door
unbidden and yet welcome,
while immersed in features of the world that are predicated on predictability.

to have the personal and professional skillset
that not only allows the possibility of chance events
but also to embrace and apply the learning
that arrives inside those events.

to be in this world but not of it.

"the kind of association that arises from meeting hazard is like making a move in a game and once that move is made, it is made, and a new situation arises. you do not think you would somehow improve the game by playing the same move over and over, yet people often think that somehow a society would be improved if it could be perpetuated or a relationship would somehow become more merely by its continuing. so long as the situation that makes the relationship right exists, it can be right; when it does not exist, it cannot be right." anthony blake

Saturday, September 12, 2009

the world like a passer-by


"newberry window" william conger 1990.

"i sit at my window this morning where the world like a passer-by stops for a moment, nods to me and goes." rabindranath tagore

there are days when the world passes by as i sit and listen to the sound of my own voice. the voice unpacks the days and nights - useless heaps of information and experience that shouldn't have happened, don't need to be there, have no value. somehow they fill an emptiness - it's the emptiness that i seek.

in that emptiness is all the fullness i've ever craved - the fullness that has occupied my every waking thought and which i have tried to fool myself into believing has been fulfilled through all the transitory distractions this world has to offer.

sometimes i just want to sit and look through the window of steven and hear nothing. nothing at all. and then allow the allness of everything to flood in.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

fear of the inexplicable



i was never comfortable with the social niceties of friendship. i knew the terms but didn't learn them.

by choice.

perhaps that's unhealthy, perhaps that's incomprehensible to most. perhaps that's wrong.

despite moments of self-recrimination and self-doubt - particularly questions related to self-worth i have held fast to this relational piece.

i see myself as connected to people with whose lives i was intended to intersect - for better or for worse (and i think that's why inpart, in the orthodoxy of christian marriage that phrase is so pointedly there!), adding the artifical architecture of friendship to these connections would trivialize their significance.

my deepest and most profound relationships are timeless - they are not judged by the terms of this world - they are enriched by the terms of this world and others. they enrich this world and others.

i have been blessed to know extraordinary and beautiful people spirits who have brought unconditional love and joy into my life and for whom i have felt unconditional love and shared my joy in their very presence. sometimes these people spirits leave or are left. our connection ends. in the terms of this world there is sadness, loss, anger, hurt.

rainer maria rilke unpacked this soulful experience in his prose work fear of the inexplicable.

but fear of the inexplicable has not alone impoverished the existence of the individual; the relationship between one human being and another has also been cramped by it, as though it had been lifted out of the riverbed of endless possibilities and set down in a fallow spot on the bank, to which nothing happens. for it is not inertia alone that is responsible for human relationships repeating themselves from case to case, indescribably monotonous and unrenewed: it is shyness before any sort of new, unforeseeable experience with which one does not think oneself able to cope.

but only someone who is ready for everything, who excludes nothing, not even the most enigmatical, will live the relation to another as something alive and will himself draw exhaustively from his own existence. for if we think of this existence of the individual as a larger or smaller room, it appears evident that most people learn to know only a corner of their room, a place by the window, a strip of floor on which they walk up and down. thus they have a certain security. and yet that dangerous insecurity is so much more human which drives the prisoners in poe's stories to feel out the shapes of their horrible dungeonsand not be strangers to the unspeakable terror of their abode.

we, however, are not prisoners. no traps or snares are set about us, and there is nothing which should intimidate or worry us. we are set down in life as in the element to which we best correspond, and over and above this we have through thousands of years of accommodation become so like this life, that when we hold still we are, through a happy mimicry, scarcely to be distinguished from all that surrounds us. we have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them. and if only we arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now still seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust and find most faithful. how should we be able to forget those ancient myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.


rainer maria rilke

Saturday, September 5, 2009

i am this one walking beside me



juan ramon jimenez was born into a banker's family but left much of that world behind when he took up writing.
(otto freundlich 1924)

a powerful sense of self and selflessness is revealed in his poem "i am not i" . . . .

i am not i.
i am this one
walking beside me whom i do not see,
whom at times i manage to visit,
and whom at other times i forget;
the one who remains silent while i talk,
the one who forgives, sweet, when i hate,
the one who takes a walk when i am indoors,
the one who will remain standing when i die.

that takes flight in his expansive poem "full consciousness" . . . (paul klee "ancient sound")

you are carrying me, full consciousness, god that has desires,
all through the world.
here, in the third sea,
i almost hear your voice: your voice, the wind,
filling entirely all movements;
eternal colors and eternal lights,
sea colors and sea lights.

your voice of white fire
in the universe of water, the ship, the sky,
marking out the roads with delight,
engraving for me with a blazing light my firm orbit:
a black body
with the glowing diamond in its center.

an excellent and insightful overview and critique of juan's thinking and work can be found here. a beautiful meditation on his writing can be found here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

finding equilibrium

all night long listening to the winds wandering through the streets.
all night long listening to this house creaking and cracking.
all night long listening to the sound of my own thinking.

thinking about the place of work in my life.

sleep is not an option.

how to waken on my own terms?

i came across this image years ago - it's familiar to many who love impressionist art. entitled "a bar at the folies bergere" it is the work of edouard manet alternately reviled and revered for his depictions of nineteenth-century parisian life.



"suzon stands alone in a crowded room. the look on her face is detached, melancholy, distracted from her job serving at the bar in the vast crowded room reflected in the glass behind her. there is a locket around her neck that is a token of another life, a love a long way from this job.

this is an unusual portrait because it is of someone at work, and someone who to our eyes is defined by her work and is profoundly unhappy with it. she is alienated from her surroundings, as if there is a glass pane between her and everyone else in the room - the drinkers, chatters-up, lovers, liars, thieves and businessmen.

she has both hands firmly on the bar as if she needs to touch something solid, in case she should be carried away by the vortex of light and shapes reflected in the mirror.

there is no attempt to make the image cohere: there is, as contemporary critics pointed out, an inconsistency to the relationship between the reflections in the mirror and the real things.

the dislocation of suzon's world is deliberate. paris is a hall of mirrors where suzon floats helplessly, clinging to her bar."
(excerpted from an article by jonathon jones in the guardian)

it is this dislocation and incoherence that reaches out from the painting to echo once again the question that revolved in my head throughout the night. how can i make sense of my daily work in my life? what place and purpose does it hold in allowing me to develop both my inner and outer life?

an answer . . . .

"one’s career in life"

"what is truly useful is to be able to accept that one’s limitations in outer life can act as a hindrance to engaging in the search. it’s very hard to accept this, but i can tell you that this acceptance can give an extraordinary impulse for development to both the inner and the outer life.

as to the question of what kind of work to choose, there is no ready-made answer. it depends. a person should examine the situation and consider why he might decide to do this or that. but on the whole it can be said that we need a relationship with the outer world. we need to find something to do that we care about. we need to be appreciated, we need to feel useful, to feel that what we do has a value.

it is not an easy challenge in a society which is not made for this inner work, which doesn’t understand anything about it, where people spend all their energy on their careers. so how to manage?

those who really accept the challenge will have to find a way to their own equilibrium. they will have to discover how to obtain what they want and to keep enough time and energy and emotional freedom for their inner search. they will become wiser, more apt. and they will develop abilities which have been lying dormant in them.

but an individual who seeks to develop his life capacities must be sure to keep in his mind and in his feelings the reason for which he is doing this. he must not allow himself to be devoured by his efforts to improve his outer life. in this, he will also be better able to understand his fellow human beings, because he himself will always be feeling tempted by life, tempted to go further and further in that direction. and if he goes too far, life will swallow him up, because life is like that. it’s always pressing us to give more to it.

in anything we do, we must never forget our aim, our central, essential value: to return again and again to this inner presence which opens us to a broader dimension.

we see from all we have said that this work has to do with living, an art of living with oneself, with opposite tendencies—those of our automatism and those which will open us to another dimension and create a harmony, a balance, and a better functioning of the whole of our nature".


pauline de dampierre

Thursday, August 27, 2009

a power stronger than itself

paul klee "insula dulcamara". 1938.

i have loved music for as long as i can remember . . . love, in the sense that i have been grateful for its presence as a reminder of the goodness that connects all and everything. the first time i was aware of the possibility that music didn't necessarily emanate from its players came with my listening to the music of keith jarrett. jarrett has observed that "his best performances were during the times where he had the least amount of preconception of what he was going to play at the next moment. an apocryphal account of one such performance had jarrett staring at the piano for several minutes without playing; as the audience grew increasingly uncomfortable, one member shouted to jarrett, "d sharp!", to which the pianist responded, "thank you!," and launched into an improvisation at speed."

it was something jarrett said, (and the exact words escape me) but its essence was that the real work of the musician is to get out of the way of the music.

extend that into the larger states of living and being. how do i get out of the way of the 'doing' of life and allow the 'being' to become.

robert fripp's aphorism "may we trust the inexpressible benevolence of the creative impulse" is revealed on a daily basis as i listen to music that (as fripp also points out) so needs to be heard that despite the extraordinary odds against its arriving, somehow manages to do so.

music and love are synonymous in my understanding . . . rabindranath tagore says that "love is the only reality and it is not a mere sentiment. it is the ultimate truth that lies at the heart of creation." it is from the heart of the creation that music flows without condition.

Monday, August 24, 2009

the freedom of clouds

the world but seems to be
yet is nothing more
than a line drawn
between light and shadow.
decipher the message
of this dream-script
and learn to distinguish time
from eternity.

fakhruddin iraqi



clouds

clouds in the skies above, heavenly wanderers,
long strings of snowy pearls stretched over azure plains!
exiles like i, you rush farther and farther on,
leaving my dear north, go distances measureless.



what drives you southward? is't envy that covertly
prods you or malice whose arrows strike openly?
destiny is it? a crime hanging over you?
or friendship's honeyed but poisonous calumny?



no! o'er those barren wastes heedlessly journeying,
passion you know not or anguish or punishment;
feeling you lack, you are free - free eternally,
you have no homeland, for you there's no banishment.

mikhail lermentov 1840

Friday, August 21, 2009

still as the mosses that glow

a wind sways the pines,
and below
not a breath of wild air;
still as the mosses that glow
on the flooring and over the lines
of the roots here and there.


from "dirge in woods" by george meredith

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

a hero of our time


"solitude" judy mackey



from the head, hand and heart of mikhail lermontov - writer and artist - come the following words excerpted and then reassembled as a text-collage to create a place and a time . . .

the full moon was shining on the little reed-thatched roof and the white walls of my new dwelling. in the courtyard, which was surrounded by a wall of rubble-stone, there stood another miserable hovel, smaller and older than the first and all askew. the shore descended precipitously to the sea, almost from its very walls, and down below, with incessant murmur, plashed the dark-blue waves. the moon gazed softly upon the watery element, restless but obedient to it, and i was able by its light to distinguish two ships lying at some distance from the shore, their black rigging motionless and standing out, like cobwebs, against the pale line of the horizon.

i entered the hut. its whole furniture consisted of two benches and a table, together with an enormous chest beside the stove. the sea-wind burst in through the broken window-pane. i drew a wax candle-end from my portmanteau, lit it, and began to put my things out.

about an hour passed thus. the moon shone in at the window and its rays played along the earthen floor of the hut. suddenly a shadow flitted across the bright strip of moonshine which intersected the floor. i raised myself up a little and glanced out of the window. again somebody ran by it and disappeared — goodness knows where! it seemed impossible for anyone to descend the steep cliff overhanging the shore, but that was the only thing that could have happened. i rose, threw on my tunic, girded on a dagger, and with the utmost quietness went out of the hut.

meanwhile the moon was becoming overcast by clouds and a mist had risen upon the sea. the lantern alight in the stern of a ship close at hand was scarcely visible through the mist, and by the shore there glimmered the foam of the waves, which every moment threatened to submerge it.

i confess that, much as i tried to make out in the distance something resembling a boat, my efforts were unsuccessful. about ten minutes passed thus, when a black speck appeared between the mountains of the waves! at one time it grew larger, at another smaller. slowly rising upon the crests of the waves and swiftly descending from them, the boat drew near to the shore.
reflecting thus, i gazed with an involuntary beating of the heart at the poor boat. it dived like a duck, and then, with rapidly swinging oars — like wings — it sprang forth from the abyss amid the splashes of the foam. “ah!” i thought, “it will be dashed against the shore with all its force and broken to pieces!” but it turned aside adroitly and leaped unharmed into a little creek.

about an hour passed thus, perhaps even longer. suddenly something resembling a song struck upon my ear. it was a song, and the voice was a woman’s, young and fresh — but, where was it coming from?. . . i listened; it was a harmonious melody — now long-drawn-out and plaintive, now swift and lively. i looked around me — there was nobody to be seen. i listened again — the sounds seemed to be falling from the sky. i raised my eyes. on the roof of my cabin was standing a young girl in a striped dress and with her hair hanging loose — a regular water-nymph. shading her eyes from the sun’s rays with the palm of her hand, she was gazing intently into the distance. at one time, she would laugh and talk to herself, at another, she would strike up her song anew.

i have retained that song in my memory, word for word:

at their own free will
they seem to wander
o’er the green sea yonder,
those ships, as still
they are onward going,
with white sails flowing.
and among those ships
my eye can mark
my own dear barque:
by two oars guided
(all unprovided
with sails) it slips.
the storm-wind raves:
and the old ships — see!
with wings spread free,
over the waves
they scatter and flee!
the sea i will hail
with obeisance deep:
“thou base one, hark!
thou must not fail
my little barque
from harm to keep!”
for lo! ’tis bearing
most precious gear,
and brave and daring
the arms that steer
within the dark
my little barque.

i had to return home; but i confess i was rendered uneasy by all these strange happenings, and i found it hard to await the morning.



the full text is available at the university of adelaide

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

learn the transformations



being
don paterson

silent comrade of the distances,
know that space dilates with your own breath;
ring out, as a bell into the earth
from the dark rafters of its own high place –

then watch what feeds on you grow strong again.
learn the transformations through and through:
what in your life has most tormented you?
if the water's sour, turn it into wine.

our senses cannot fathom this night, so
be the meaning of their strange encounter;
at their crossing, be the radiant centre.

and should the world itself forget your name
say this to the still earth: i flow.
say this to the quick stream: i am.


from orpheus: a version of rilke's die sonette an orpheus (london: faber and faber, 2006).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

the moments

"never be afraid of the moments

thus sings the voice of the everlasting"


rabindranath tagore

Friday, July 31, 2009

the shape of your eyes


rene magritte
le faux miroir, 1928



the first eyes i would have seen would have been my mother's. crystal blue like her own mothers. with the sound of her voice would have come the first understanding of how comfort, security and the eyes are linked. a connection that extends through all other like circumstances, where the intimacy of connection that includes the considerations of need, have arisen in my life.

you have heard the phrase, "the eyes tell stories".

stories hover in and around the eyes, as paul eluard's 1926 poem "the shape of your eyes" attests . . .

the shape of your eyes goes round my heart,

a round of dance and sweetness.

halo of time, cradle nightly and sure

no longer do I know what I've lived,

your eyes have not always seen me.

leaves of day and moss of dew,

reeds of wind and scented smiles,

wings lighting up the world,

boats laden with sky and sea,

hunters of sound and sources of colour,

scents the echoes of a covey of dawns

recumbent on the straw of stars,

as the day depends on innocence

the world relies on your pure sight

all my blood courses in its glance.


there are even greater stories . . .

the eyes are like the waistline of an hourglass. at either end of the narrowing there is an infinite perceptual opening. each moment, each atom is similarly constructed.

though the worlds are eighteen thousand and more,
not every eye can see them.
every atom is indeed a place of the vision of God,
but so long as it is unopened,
who says, "there is a door"?
[I, 3756; 3766]
rumi

and so it is that other stories the eyes can tell are deeper, richer. in the telling of these stories, the eyes are like alice in wonderland's tunnel: "the rabbit hole went on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well.

either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next."

when the mirror of your heart becomes clear and pure,
you'll behold images which are outside this world.
you will see the image and the image-maker,
both the carpet of the spiritual expanse
and the one who spreads it.
[II, 72-3]
rumi



kristine schomaker
"down the rabbit hole"


at the end of the tunnel, "alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage, not much larger than a rat-hole: she knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw. how she longed to get out of that dark hall, and wander about among those beds of bright flowers and those cool fountains, but she could not even get her head through the doorway;"

it is in being available to the moment, to the door that presents itself, to the intuition that unfurls into insight that awakening takes place.

Monday, July 27, 2009

deer fence

isaac levitan the watermill at sunset 1880.

sound.

there are so many magical sounds. lying inside a tent listening to the sound of rain. the wind whistling through a little opening. leaves rustling in a summer breeze on a hot day. i have a long list . . . .

walking through the nearby woodlot i hear voices - children riding bikes, climbing trees, building forts, playing chase games. what i love is that i can’t see the source of the voices - just the voices, muffled in the leaves and undergrowth. so, even though i know i’m sharing the woods with countless other people, i still feel alone. sharing a space.

wang wei captures this experience in his beautiful poem “deer fence”.

deer fence

in the empty mountains

i see no one,

but hear the sound

of someone's voice.
slanting sunlight

enters deep forest,

and shines again

on green moss.

wang wei
 trans. greg whincup

Friday, July 24, 2009

intoxication

rene magritte
the month of the grape harvest . 1959

in this painting, a group of similar looking men stare into a very sparsely and plainly decorated room. they are looking through opened windows. each face bares a similar expression.

what is it that they see?

how many can see beyond what they see?

in 1860 emily dickinson was intoxicated by the beauty that binds this world and wrote, "i taste a liquor never brewed".

i taste a liquor never brewed --
from tankards scooped in pearl --
not all the vats upon the rhine
yield such an alcohol!

inebriate of air -- am i --
and debauchee of dew --
reeling -- thro' endless summer days --
from inns of molten blue --

when "landlords" turn the drunken bee
out of the foxglove's door --
when butterflies -- renounce their "drams" --
i shall but drink more!

till seraphs swing their snowy hats --
and saints -- to windows run --
to see the little tippler
leaning against the sun

beyond the relational surface lie riches such as are seen and felt in these words from fiona robyn

a triangle of wine left in the glass
darker than the night window
where the reflection of fairy lights
are light rain on a clear pond.

intoxication in all its forms, physical, emotional, spiritual . . . are metaphorically braided in rabindranath tagore's words . . .

take my wine in my own cup, friend.
it loses its wreath of foam when poured in that of
others.


the words of hafiz take us deeper still . . .

where have you taken your sweet song?
come back and play me a tune.

i never really cared for the things of this world.
it was the glow of your presence
that filled it with beauty.

and finally it is rumi who offers the ecstatic rendering of the experience of intoxication when he declares "you only need smell the wine!"

you only need smell the wine
for vision to flame from each void--
such flames from wine's aroma!
imagine if you were the wine.

Monday, July 20, 2009

i am a dance


"i am a dance—play up, there! the fit is whirling me fast!

i am the ever-laughing—it is new moon and twilight . . .

elements merge in the night—ships make tacks in the dreams...

i swear they are all beautiful;

every one that sleeps is beautiful—everything in the dim light is beautiful"

walt whitman (from "the sleepers")

Friday, July 17, 2009

redemption

"redemption" pam burnley-schol


the creation was set up to work, and work well.

part of the equation was that it was free to work well, or not.

so, part of the equation was that (at least in some times and places) it probably wouldn't.

so, part of the equation was that the creation would need some fine tuning and tinkering, even a little repair.

even, a major overhaul.

there is a necessary freedom within the subordinate parts of the creation, that the creation might be creative.

this is our freedom, that, if we wish, we may cooperate with the unfolding creation.

this freedom is our right as human beings.

this freedom is also our obligation as human beings.

so, our right and our obligation are the same.

the price to be paid for this freedom is to honour the obligation.

the reward for honouring this obligation is freedom.

we have abused our inherent and natural freedom, even forgotten it.

we choose not to meet our obligation, rather to live in debt.

***************************************

redemption is the process within which the creation arranges for our debt to be honoured sufficiently that we

may be free once more to pay our own way.

that is, the act of redemption returns the gift of freedom to us.

this places upon us a further obligation, and grants us a further right.

the further obligation is to contribute to the debts of others, where we are able.

the further right is to contribute to settling the debts of others, where we may.

that is, we are free to contribute to the act of redemption and participate within it.

redemption is an actual event and a process.

for redemption to enter the world, we need to allow the process of redemption to take place within us.

when we behave rightly, we can handle the repercussions.

when we behave wrongly, things break down.

redemption is a process of repair in which the repair job may become stronger than the original model.

the work of redemption is underway in the world on such a colossal scale, and so close to us, that we may not
see it.

***************************************

the act of music is one of many possible actions through which the inexpressible benevolence of the creative
impulse may enter our lives, and direct and shape them in a way and manner so radical and overwhelming that one single note might change our world.

providing that the one single note is the right note, and that we hear it.

better then, if we wish to hear that we learn to listen.

this is always the possibility, despite the limitations and restrictions placed upon the event, that the action which takes place within the act of music may change our lives.

no professional musician can fail to be unaware of the cynicism, greed and violation upon which the music industry has been based in (at least) recent years.

our own cynicism, in response, is too high a price to pay: it puts us outside the event.

despite all attempts to constrain the power of music, the act of music is always remarkable.

*****************************************

we have perhaps noticed that the world with which we are familiar is collapsing.

the abrogation of responsibility, by those in positions of power towards those who are dependent upon them, would seem to be a leitmotiv in our recent history: political, personal, professional and moral violation is endemic in contemporary culture.

the new world is struggling to be born whilst carrying passive repercussions of the past and facing active opposition from the old.

the future is in place, and waiting, but we have yet to discover it.

our present position is the bridge between.

this position is hazardous because we are building the bridge while crossing it.

a reasonable person would despair, but hope is unreasonable and redemption an actual event.

artists, musicians and poets deal with the unreasonable on a daily basis.

this is the living breath of our work and the invisible glue which holds together performers, audience and the song.

redemption and repair, for those committed to serving the creative impulse, is an aspect of applied art and utterly practical.

grace - readily available, simply experienced, beyond understanding - requires no reason to enter our lives but does need a vehicle.

****************************************

something has gone terribly wrong.

because of that, many things have gone terribly wrong.

this is all meaningless unless we experience the terror of being separated from the source which fuels the creation, and the conviction that redemption is entirely real.

but the outcome is not guaranteed.

***************************************

one bad note carries repercussions.

this one bad note disturbs the note which follows.

this makes two bad notes.

the first bad note disturbs the note which goes before.

this makes three bad notes.

one bad chord in a sequence interrupts the progression.

one beat, out of time, disturbs the rhythm.

once the rhythm is lost, the composition is set adrift from its unfolding in time.

time continues but the composition is apart from it.

***************************************

we live voluntarily, in the basement.

but for us to move upstairs, someone has to pay the rent.

***************************************

any choice we make to escape our debts, to dishonour our obligation, blocks the bridge over which we return to the whole.

this is a disintegration.

the aim of meeting unmet obligations, and addressing obligations which have not been honoured, is that we may reintegrate with the whole: at-one-ment.

reintegration is our gift within the act of redemption.

***************************************

when a good friend pays my debt, and releases me from the repercussions and weight of that debt, i am free to work and acquire something of my own.

when i have a little in the bank, perhaps i may pick up the debt for someone else.

in paying their debts, i settle my own.


text from "david sylvian and robert fripp: redemption - approaching silence" - 1994 tokyo, japan. music composed by david sylvian, words by robert fripp.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

vesper bells

sometimes it's just good to slow down.

stop.

and begin.

again.

hold this moment . . . .

vesper bells at the shomyoji temple

kanazawa shomyo temple hiroshige

Friday, July 10, 2009

the little white boat with the red sail

michael woloschinow

adrift! a little boat adrift! emily dickinson

adrift! a little boat adrift!
and night is coming down!
will no one guide a little boat
unto the nearest town?

so sailors say -- on yesterday --
just as the dusk was brown
one little boat gave up its strife
and gurgled down and down.

so angels say -- on yesterday --
just as the dawn was red
one little boat -- o'erspent with gales --
retrimmed its masts -- redecked its sails --
and shot -- exultant on!

finding and maintaining direction - to sink or to rise - is a challenge and an opportunity presented inside each moment.

Monday, July 6, 2009

in dusk and dust and dreams

i see beginnings and endings in a tangerine hued cloud of dust. a million grains of sand and salt dance wraithlike, rising and falling, curling in on themselves and then exploding in impossibly synchronous calligraphy. each grain a minuscule world containing a single sunbeam. a ray of light that has pierced first the emptiness of space, then the thickness of this atmosphere until finally low and thin, barely making its way across fields of young grass, it somehow finds this cloud hovering above the asphalt and settles inside the crystal heart of a solitary grain of dust at dusk - and dreams.

bringers

"cover me over
in dusk and dust and dreams.
cover me over
and leave me alone.
cover me over,
you tireless, great.
hear me and cover me,
bringers of dusk and dust and dreams.
"

carl sandburg

Friday, July 3, 2009

a very pleasant world



fatma neslihan oner "under the water"



deniz atac "under the water"


from virginia woolf's "the mark on the wall" . . .

"yes, one could imagine a very pleasant world. a quiet, spacious world, with the flowers so red and blue in the open fields. a world which one could slice with one’s thought as a fish slices the water with his fin, grazing the stems of the water–lilies, hanging suspended over nests of white sea eggs. . . how peaceful it is down here, rooted in the centre of the world and gazing up through the grey waters, with their sudden gleams of light, and their reflections - "

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

what is nearest to us



“now i want to tell you this. as everything in the universe is one, so, consequently, everything has equal rights, therefore from this point of view knowledge can be acquired by a suitable and complete study, no matter what the starting point is. only one must know how to ‘learn.’ what is nearest to us is man; and you are the nearest of all men to yourself. begin with the study of yourself; remember the saying ‘know thyself.’ it is possible that now it will acquire a more intelligible meaning for you."

this excerpt is found in “glimpses of truth, views from the real world: early talks of gurdjieff as recollected by his pupils", new york: dutton, 1973.

Friday, June 26, 2009

starry child of earth


"dawn of a new era" quilt work by elaine quehl


a few years ago - on a whim - i took apart a pablo neruda poem, selecting those phrases that spoke to me and reassembling them into a poem that also spoke to me.

(pablo neruda deconstruction)
starry child
of earth,
soft
as lascivious velvet,
spiral-seashelled
and full of wonder;
your
glorious
spring dress
bursts through the earth like a plant,
walls crumble,
a song is born,
as light
illuminates the senses;
translucency,
a chorus of discipline,
an abundance of flowers.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

the wind is crying

marek szymanksi

the wind is crying
peering tight and lonely
through every crack and opening.
blindly finding its way -
feeling for the little spaces
where its curling silver breath fingers
can reach with soft cold claws
inside those gaps
and tongue lick
cleave its way
past the doors and rattling windows
to the guttering
blue-yellow leaf of light
where the candle's
keening
knife-edge
of waxy smoke
kisses the little dancing flame.

sgl

Friday, June 19, 2009

you and i and the sea



camille pissaro "regates a argenteuil"



promised land

let it play with your hair, this gentle breeze
blowing from the seven seas.
if only you knew
how lovely you are the way you gaze at the edge of the night
steeped in the grief of exile and longing, in sorrow.

neither you
nor i
nor the dusk that gathers in your beauty
nor the blue sea.
that safe harbour for the distress that assaults the brain-
we spurn the generation which knows nothing of the soul's pain.

mankind today
brands you merely a fresh slender woman
and me just an old fool.
that wretched appetite, that filthy sight
can find no meaning in you or me
nor a tender grief in the night
nor the sullen tremor of secrecy and disdain
on the calm sea.

you and i
and the sea
and the night that seems to gather silently,
without trembling, the fragrance of your soul,
far away
torn asunder from the land where blue shadows hold sway,
we are forever doomed to this exile here.

that land?
stretches along the chaste regions of imagination, and
a blue nightfall
reposes there for all;
at its outer edges, the sea
pours the calm of sleep on each soul...

there, women are lovely, tender, nocturnal, pure.
over their eyes your sadness hovers,
they are all sisters or lovers:
the tearful kisses on their lips can cure,
and the indigo quiet of their inquiring eyes
can soothe the heart's suffering.
their souls are violets
distilled from the night of despair,
in a ceaseless search for silence and repose.
the dim glare from the moon's sorrows
finds haven in their immaculate hands.

ah, they are so frail-
the mute anguish they share,
the night deep in thought, the ailing sea ...
they all resemble each other there.

that land
is on which imaginary continent, and
dimmed by what distant river?
is it a land of illusions- or real,
a utopia bound to remain unknown forever?

i do not know ... all I know is
you and i and the blue sea
and the dusk that vibrates in me
the strings of inspiration and agony,
far away
torn asunder from the land where blue shadows hold sway
we are forever doomed to this exile here.


ahmet hasim (1884-1933)
translated by talat sait halman

Monday, June 15, 2009

dancing in the shadow of the shadow



the range of what we think and do
is limited by what we fail to notice.
and because we fail to notice
that we fail to notice
there is little we can do
to change
until we notice
how failing to notice
shapes our thoughts and deeds.


r.d. laing

the burdens we carry . . . so much weightiness! each little parcel of expectation carefully wrapped and then added to the bulging sack of our shadow. the shadow that for whatever reason(s) we choose to ignore, simply adding to its mass and overlooking its effect on our thoughts and deeds.

the shadow - some points of reference from carl jung:

unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. if an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it. furthermore, it is constantly in contact with other interests, so that it is continually subjected to modifications. but if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected.
"psychology and religion" (1938). In cw 11: psychology and religion: west and east. p.131

there is a deep gulf between what a man is and what he represents, between what he is as an individual and what he is as a collective being. his function is developed at the expense of the individuality. should he excel, he is merely identical with his collective function; but should he not, then, though he may be highly esteemed as a function in society, his individuality is wholly on the level of his inferior, undeveloped functions, and he is simply a barbarian, while in the former case he has happily deceived himself as to his actual barbarism.
psychological types (1921). cw 6: p.III

when we must deal with problems, we instinctively resist trying the way that leads through obscurity and darkness. we wish to hear only of unequivocal results, and completely forget that these results can only be brought about when we have ventured into and emerged again from the darkness. but to penetrate the darkness we must summon all the powers of enlightenment that consciousness can offer.
"the stages of life" (1930). in cw 8: the structure and dynamics of the psyche. p.752

to confront a person with his shadow is to show him his own light. once one has experienced a few times what it is like to stand judgingly between the opposites, one begins to understand what is meant by the self. anyone who perceives his shadow and his light simultaneously sees himself from two sides and thus gets in the middle.
"good and evil in analytical psychology" (1959). In cw 10. civilization in transition. p.872

a man who is unconscious of himself acts in a blind, instinctive way and is in addition fooled by all the illusions that arise when he sees everything that he is not conscious of in himself coming to meet him from outside as projections upon his neighbour.
"the philosophical tree" (1945). In cw 13: alchemical studies. p.335

projections change the world into the replica of one's own unknown face.
aion (1955). cw 14: p.17

the "other" may be just as one-sided in one way as the ego is in another. And yet the conflict between them may give rise to truth and meaning-but only if the ego is willing to grant the other its rightful personality.
"concerning rebirth" (1940) In cw 9, part I: the archetypes of the collective unconscious. p.237

Friday, June 12, 2009

sanctum



"the drawing-room, to which we had now withdrawn for the rest of the evening, was on the ground-floor, and was of the same shape and size as the breakfast-room. large glass doors at the lower end opened on to a terrace, beautifully ornamented along its whole length with a profusion of flowers. the soft, hazy twilight was just shading leaf and blossom alike into harmony with its own sober hues as we entered the room, and the sweet evening scent of the flowers met us with its fragrant welcome through the open glass doors.

("my sanctum" carrick siddell)

how vividly that peaceful home-picture of the drawing-room comes back to me while i write! outside, on the terrace, the clustering flowers and long grasses and creepers waved so gently in the light evening air, that the sound of their rustling never reached us. the sky was without a cloud, and the dawning mystery of moonlight began to tremble already in the region of the eastern heaven. the sense of peace and seclusion soothed all thought and feeling into a rapt, unearthly repose; and the balmy quiet, that deepened ever with the deepening light, seemed to hover over us with a gentler influence still, when there stole upon it from the piano the heavenly tenderness of the music of mozart. it was an evening of sights and sounds never to forget."

excerpted from "the woman in white" wilkie collins

Monday, June 8, 2009

three strange angels

at all times through my life after i realized i was aware of something other, i've lifted my nose and turned my sails in the direction of the fine fine wind that courses throughout this world. a sweet fine wind that carries the soul on its journey far far beyond land and sea!

each moment, an opportunity to remember the human condition presents itself. with attention to the significance and value of those moments comes the opportunity to address your place inside them. to see the mechanistic, the impulsive, the reactive, to locate their necessity, to assess their merit or to acknowledge the damage they are doing. my experience is that with consistent practice of this awareness comes the opportunity to move from awareness to sorrow, and from sorrow to wonder.



not i, not i, but the wind that blows through me!
a fine wind is blowing the new direction of time.
If only i let it bear me, carry me, if only it carry me!
if only i am sensitive, subtle, oh, delicate, a winged gift!
if only, most lovely of all, i yield myself and am borrowed
by the fine, fine wind that takes its course through the chaos of the
world
like a fine, an exquisite chisel, a wedge-blade inserted;
if only i am keen and hard like the sheer tip of a wedge
driven by invisible blows,
the rock will split, we shall come at the wonder, we shall find the
hesperides.


oh, for the wonder that bubbles into my soul,
i would be a good fountain, a good well-head,
would blur no whisper, spoil no expression.

what is the knocking?
what is the knocking at the door in the night?
it is somebody wants to do us harm.

no, no, it is the three strange angels.
admit them, admit them.

david herbert lawrence

all artwork courtesy of daniel paulo

Friday, June 5, 2009

the goodness i have been gifted with



i am aware of and can define in my perception of myself, an outward and an inner expression of that perception. i can also acknowledge my awareness of the dialogue between the two areas of self and then again of the creative force that issues out of this dialogue and describes features of my actual self.

one such dialogue sees the outer person ask the world for forgiveness for the inner person through acting the role of "fool" in the classic use of the role - the king's fool who describes the king with detail and accuracy and in so doing pokes fun at the power, the accoutrements, the ambitions of someone gifted with earthly power.

this has been my primary role in relation to the outer world since my childhood. it has provided me with security as it is a feature of the world's expectation of me and so easy to play into. it has provided me with a place to hide.

i learned the deep value and significance of induced or prepared joy.
the kind that can sustain a person like myself past the unsustainable.

i have also learned through the course of my life that this giving of hope and joy carries a price tag.
in part, the price is the expectation that there is an unlimited quantity of this joy.

it is actually limited only by my ability and willingness to pay the price.

in part there is also the misperception that the joy describes the person providing it.
this form of joy describes the needs of the person providing it.

this is clear in my personal and professional lives to those who know me in the real sense of knowing.

the outer person is my lifeline to my meal ticket. he acquires material goods, power, relationships, intimacies, acceptance.

the inner person is the self i have dialogue with, the sometimes grieving, sometimes truly joyous, sometimes immersed-in-the-truly-wondrous-goodness-i-have-been-gifted-with person that i am and am to be becoming.

through my life i have quieted the inner person, and quickly acquired items incuding image reinforcing roles and relationships; all of these to remind myself of my sense of myself as a worthy person.

these are things i want.
these are things i have.
these are significant and signify not only what i am and what I am capable of but also signify what i can get. these are measures of success in the material world.

and so, like the fool whose entirety is described by mimicry they are defined entirely by the foreground while the richness of the background is overlooked or carefully tucked away, peeking between the shutters of the fool's perceptions and needs.

Monday, June 1, 2009

in such seeming

it is possible that to seem - it is to be,
as the sun is something seeming and it is.

the sun is an example. what it seems
it is and such seeming all things are.


wallace stevens

the past is a place of description - whole experiences reduced to pointillist depictions that resolve into form when we stand back from them. the tiny speckles of coloured moments merge until forms appear and from these little forms come relationships and in that we articulate our knowing of what has been.

from that knowing of what has been - coupled with what is - we articulate our expectations of what might be or what we wish to be.

it is in that space - between the selective remembering of our known experiencing and our anticipation that what has gone before must necessarily repeat itself to some degree - that we articulate the suffering attached to unfulfilled expectation.

the arced line of connection that we draw through past and present experience is compromised by its apparent discontinuity when extended into the future becoming present, and that is where so much disappointment is focussed. our apparent entitlement to expect what is not "seeming and it is" to

Thursday, May 28, 2009

a recurring dream


théo van rysselberghe "voiliers sur l'escault"


and so -

it begins with a dream.

a recurring dream that I have about abandonment. about being given up by someone - my mother, my brother, my wife, my children - in the dream a person who is intimately and emotionally connected to me leaves me for someone else.

i cry.

i hit them with anger.

i throw things, and as i throw things i have a sense of myself as a child and all that i have carried from that time.

vulnerable.
powerless.
inadequate.
unworthy.

my intuitive sense is that the "other" person constitutes the world.

it is also my sense that i have worked very hard to earn acceptance from the world. that i make every effort to earn this acceptance through my work, my behaviours, and through my self-deprecating attitude towards my apparent self.

it is there.
it is associated with me.
it has damaged me.

it is my perception of the perceptions of the world towards me that i strike out at. it is my own idea of what constitutes 'acceptance' from the world that i have worked towards. it is an empty game.

because 'the world' only exists as a construct of ideas in me that i need in order to give my self context and form.

it is my self that even now i am trying to accept.

and so the fight is between my outer (perceived) and inner (actual) selves.