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]

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]

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.


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


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

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" 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.


and begin.


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.


"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 - "