Tuesday, March 31, 2009

the clocks pick off the points

(courtesy of nature remains)

"row, row, row your boat,
gently down the stream;
merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
life is but a dream."

time flies - if it is used as a measure of your life.

(image courtesy bitze)

"among prominent philosophers, there are two distinct viewpoints on time. one view is that time is part of the fundamental structure of the universe, a dimension in which events occur in sequence. the opposing view is that time does not refer to any kind of "container" that events and objects "move through", nor to any entity that "flows", but that it is instead part of a fundamental intellectual structure (together with space and number) within which humans sequence and compare events."

carl sandburg wrote:

in the cool of the night time
the clocks pick off the points
and the mainsprings loosen.
they will need winding.
one of these days
they will need winding.

with time measuring the unmeasurable. with space defining the undefinable.

here we are.

what a strange place to call home. what a strange way to define the sacred space we know as home. if, as teilhard de chardin says, "we are not so much human beings on a spiritual journey, as spiritual beings on a human journey", then what can we make about this agreed upon artifice - time and space? what purpose does it serve?

"raptly as one who would divine the perilous eyes of sleep, and the dreams and mysteries which lurk therein, i sought to fathom the gulf-enclosing orb of the crystal: void for a time, and hollow with light it was, and transpicuous like the orient sky that is made clear for the colours of the dawn. but soon the light was centered to a star, and the crystal itself, as if pregnant with the Infinite, became a tenebrous and profound abysm, through which a teeming myriad of shadows, vague as incipient dreams, or luminous with a glimpse of vision not prefigurable, fled in an ever-changing phantasmagoric succession about the star: from out those vortical and swirling glooms, where only the central star was constant, i saw the pallor of innominable faces emerge-faces that broke like bubbles; and forms that were strange as conceptions of an alien sun, with the eidolons of things which were imageless before, swam for a little in that phantasmic wave. but all the multifold mysteries which were manifest therein, i knew for the hidden thoughts and occluse, reluctant dreams of mine under-soul — thoughts and dreams now shadow-shown in the gulf-revealing orb of the hollow crystal...

thus, in the crystal of time and space, whose gulfs contain all that we call the infinite, may God behold the manifestation of all the multiform mysteries, and all the secret thoughts and dreams which abide in the centermost sanctuary of his being. and naught may appear to him but these - his thoughts and dreams forever shadow - shown in the immeasurable orb of the hollow crystal of time and space."

from the crystals written by clark ashton smith

Saturday, March 28, 2009

he did not become indifferent . . .

image courtesy tanya ruka

if i lived my life full in the knowledge that each moment might be my last, how different would i appear? to others - to myself.

i was brought to that thought after reading al purdy's poem "lu yu (ad 1125-1209)". reading it brought to mind the parable from the mahabharata relating the plight of the man who has fallen into a pit.

al's poem reads . . . .

on the day of lu yu's last sickness
a thin coffin was ready,
and two quilts to cover him,
and the gravediggers paid
their work done.
then he started to write another poem
a short time before death,
about drinking wine again in the village -
he was working on the poem when they buried him,
so that half a line protruded from the earth
in wind and weather's hearing -
with sunlight touching the first young syllables,
the last ones flowering from a dark coffin:
"marketplace the in/drink more one"
the first three words above ground
the last ones wine in the red dust.
near the village of shanyang
in chekiang province…

the man in the wilderness - a parable from mahabharata from stree parva (the book of women). from the translation by kisari mohan ganguli

vidura said:

"a certain brahmana, living in the great world found himself on one occasion in a large inaccessible forest teaming with beasts of prey. it abounded on every side with lions and other animals looking like elephants, all of which were engaged in roaring aloud. such was the aspect of that forest that yama himself would take fright at it.

beholding the forest, the heart of the brahmana became exceedingly agitated. his hair stood on end, and other signs of fear manifested themselves, o scorcher of foes! entering it, he began to run hither and thither, casting his eyes on every point of the compass for finding out somebody whose shelter he might seek. wishing to avoid those terrible creatures, he ran in fright. he could not succeed, however, in distancing them or freeing himself from their presence.

he then saw that the terrible forest was surrounded by a net, and that a frightful woman stood there stretching her arms. that large forest was also encompassed by many five-headed snakes of dreadful forms, tall as cliffs and touching the very heavens.

within it was a pit whose mouth was covered with many hard and unyielding creepers and herbs. the brahmana, in course of his wanderings fell into that invisible pit. he became entangled in those clusters of creepers that were interwoven with one another, like the large fruit of a jack tree hanging by its stalk. he continued to hang there, feet upwards and head downwards while he was in that posture, diverse other calamities overtook him.

he beheld a large and mighty snake within the pit. he also saw a gigantic elephant near its mouth. that elephant, dark in complexion, had six faces and twelve feet. and the animal gradually approached that pit covered with creepers and trees.

about the twigs of the tree (that stood at the mouth of the pit), rowed many bees of frightful forms, employed from before in drinking the honey gathered in their comb about which they swarmed in large numbers. repeatedly they desired, o bull of the bharatha's race, to taste that honey which though sweet to all creatures, however attracts children only. the honey (collected in the comb) fell in many jets below. the person who was hanging in the pit continually drank those jets. employed, in such a distressful situation, in drinking that honey, his thirst, however, could not be appeased.

o king, he did not become indifferent to life. even there, the man continued to hope for existence.

a number of black and white rats were eating away the roots of that tree. there was fear from the beasts of prey, from that fierce woman on the outskirts of the forest, from that snake at the bottom of the well, from that elephant near its tip, from the fall of the tree through the action of the rats and lastly from the bees flying about for tasting the honey. In that plight he continued to dwell, deprived of his senses, in that wilderness, never losing at any time the hope of prolonging his life.

if i lived my life full in the knowledge that each moment might be my last, how different would i appear? to others - to myself. how would the quality of my life change? how would the quality of the lives of those around me change? how could i live my life that way and not live without consideration for myself and others?

it all seems so obvious. it all seems so distant.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

and now

there are moments of such blinding clarity that i wonder how i've made my way through life - with my eyes closed? sometimes my eyes open wide and then i see what i wish i could see all the time.

"what you are you do not see, what you see is your shadow." rabindranath tagore

"arise the other" karen stefano.

a.g.e. blake expresses a moment of seeing unfolding:

"coming across gurdjieff was a wondrous moment in my life when in deep unease at being alive, indulging in existentialism, seeking answers in physics and being visited by feelings and thoughts that just could not fit into the worldview that seemed to be governing the world, he had the appearance of someone who had been through all of it and come out the other side. he belonged with many others such as krishnamurti – and I would add today, bernadette roberts – who were speaking from another place. yet he also had appeal because he offered ways of experimenting with experience itself that one could do here and now in the midst of life. he raised a new awareness of what it was to breathe, move, think and pay attention so that one could experience something of that zen-like quality of ordinary life two inches of the ground. he brought into question the most ordinary and everyday things we take for granted."

"dectesuque" karen stefano
further writings of anthony blake that introduce the ideas of gudjieff can be read here . . . .
gurdjieff and now


Friday, March 20, 2009

you're each other. then your self.

a walk through a flooded park. echoes a long ago walk.

first love

side-by-side with the one.

you love.

swinging through the air.

feet skimming puddles.
puddles like mirrors.

you’re each other.

you’re each other's.

then your selves.

then your self.

side-by-side with the one.

you love.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

eyes to see others - a mirror to see ourselves

"while we have eyes to see others, we need a mirror to see ourselves." tibetan proverb

eight verses for training the mind

by langri thangpa

with a determination to accomplish
the highest welfare for all sentient beings
who surpass even a wish-granting jewel
i will learn to hold them supremely dear.

whenever i associate with others i will learn
to think of myself as the lowest among all
and respectfully hold others to be supreme
from the very depths of my heart.

in all actions i will learn to search into my mind
and as soon as an afflictive emotion arises
endangering myself and others
will firmly face and avert it.

i will learn to cherish beings of bad nature
and those oppressed by strong sins and suffering
as if i had found a precious
treasure very difficult to find.

when others out of jealousy treat me badly
with abuse, slander, and so on,
i will learn to take on all loss,
and offer victory to them.

when one whom i have benefited with great hope
unreasonably hurts me very badly,
i will learn to view that person
as an excellent spiritual guide.

in short, i will learn to offer to everyone without exception
all help and happiness directly and indirectly
and respectfully take upon myself
all harm and suffering of my mothers.

i will learn to keep all these practices
undefiled by the stains of the eight worldly conceptions
and by understanding all phenomena as like illusions
be released from the bondage of attachment.

the dalai llama has provided a teaching of these verses that is especially illuminating and insightful. to read it please visit here.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

let it lie still

atlantic beach . ann packard

wouldn't you say,

wouldn't you say: one day,

with a little more time or a little more patience, one might

disentangle for separate, deliberate, slow delight

one of the moment's hundred strands, unfray

beginnings from endings, this from that, survey

say a square inch of the ground one stands on, touch

part of oneself or a leaf or a sound (not clutch

or cuff or bruise but touch with finger-tip, ear-

tip, eyetip, creeping near yet not too near);

might take up life and lay it on one's palm

and, encircling it in closeness, warmth and calm,

let it lie still, then stir smooth - softly, and tendril by tendril unfold, there on one's hand ... one might examine eternity's


for a second, with slightly more patience, more time for reflection?

a.s.j. tessimond. 1934

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

night's nave upsoaring

in the arch of a reed, intimations of a whole bent under the weight of the elements.

so is the whole of a life.

even when bent, it retains its beauty.


gaunt in gloom,
the pale stars their torches,
enshrouded, wave.
ghostfires from heaven's far verges faint illume,
arches on soaring arches,
night's sindark nave.

the lost hosts awaken
to service till
in moonless gloom each lapses muted, dim,
raised when she has and shaken
her thurible.

and long and loud,
to night's nave upsoaring,
a starknell tolls
as the bleak incense surges, cloud on cloud,
voidward from the adoring
waste of souls.

james joyce from "pomes penyeach"

Saturday, March 7, 2009

breathless longings

my soul is sick to-day; my soul is sick with absence; my soul has the sickness of silence; and my eyes
light it with tedium.
i catch sight of hunts at a standstill, under the blue lashes of my memories; and the hidden hounds
of my desires follow the outworn scents.
i see the packs of my dreams threading the warm forests, and the yellow arrows of regret seeking the
white deer of lies.
ah, God! my breathless longings, the warm longings of my eyes, have clouded with breaths too blue
the moon which fills my soul.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

pretending to be blooms

evening snow. drifting in and out of the house lights.

in the eleventh century, sei shonagon a lady of the japanese court wrote . . .


as though pretending to be blooms

the snowflakes scatter in the winter sky.