Monday, January 26, 2015

the lazy son








 
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A man on his deathbed left instructions
for dividing up his goods among his three sons.
He had devoted his entire spirit to those sons.
They stood like cypress trees around him,
quiet and strong.
He told the town judge,
"Whichever of my sons is laziest,
give him all the inheritance."

Then he died, and the judge turned to the three,
"Each of you must give some account of your laziness,
so I can understand just how you are lazy."

Mystics are experts in laziness. They rely on it,
because they continually see God working all around them.
The harvest keeps coming in, yet they
never even did the plowing!

"Come on. Say something about the ways you are lazy."

Every spoken word is a covering for the inner self.
A little curtain-flick no wider than a slice
of roast meat can reveal hundreds of exploding suns.
Even if what is being said is trivial and wrong,
the listener hears the source. One breeze comes
from across a garden. Another from across the ash-heap.
Think how different the voices of the fox
and the lion, and what they tell you!

Hearing someone is lifting the lid off the cooking pot.
You learn what's for supper. Though some people
can know just by the smell, a sweet stew
from a sour soup cooked with vinegar.

A man taps a clay pot before he buys it
to know by the sound if it has a crack.

The eldest of the three brothers told the judge.
"I can know a man by his voice,
and if he won't speak,
I wait three days, and then I know him intuitively."

The second brother, "I know him when he speaks,
and if he won't talk, I strike up a conversation."

"But what if he knows that trick?" asked the judge.

Which reminds me of the mother who tells her child,
"When you are walking through the graveyard at night
and you see a boogeyman, run at it,
and it will go away."

"But what," replies the child, "if the boogeyman's
mother has told it to do the same thing?
Boogeymen have mothers too."

The second brother had no answer.

The judge then asked the youngest brother,
What if a man cannot be made to say anything?
How do you learn his hidden nature?"

"I sit in front of him in silence,
and set up a ladder made of patience,
and if in his presence a language from beyond joy
and beyond grief begins to pour from my chest,
I know that his soul is as deep and bright
as the star Canopus rising over Yemen.
And so when I start speaking a powerful right arm
of words sweeping down, I know him from what I say,
and how I say it, because there's a window open
between us, mixing the night air of our beings."

The youngest was, obviously,
the laziest. He won.


–Rumi
Coleman Barks version






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Sunday, January 25, 2015

into the west








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Lay down
Your sweet and weary head
Night is falling
You’ve come to journey's end


Sleep now
And dream of the ones who came before
They are calling
From across the distant shore

Why do you weep?
What are these tears upon your face?
Soon you will see
All of your fears will pass away
Safe in my arms
You're only sleeping
 

[Chorus]
What can you see
On the horizon?
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea
A pale moon rises
The ships have come to carry you home
And all will turn
To silver glass
A light on the water
All souls pass
 
Hope fades
Into the world of night
Through shadows falling
Out of memory and time
Don't say: 'We have come now to the end'
White shores are calling
You and I will meet again

And you'll be here in my arms
Just sleeping
[Chorus]
And all will turn
To silver glass
A light on the water
Grey ships pass
Into the West


Fran Walsh, Howard Shore, Annie Lennox
Lord of the Rings soundtrack







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in praise of mortality








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Want the change.
Be inspired by the flame
where everything shines as it disappears.
The artist, when sketching, loves nothing so much
as the curve of the body as it turns away.
What locks itself in sameness has congealed.
Is it safer to be gray and numb?
What turns hard becomes rigid
and is easily shattered.


Pour yourself out like a fountain.
Flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking
finishes often at the start, and, with ending, begins.
Every happiness is the child of a separation
it did not think it could survive.

And Daphne, becoming a laurel,
dares you to become the wind.



–Rainer Maria Rilke
Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, XII
Anita Barrows/Joanna Macy translation







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Saturday, January 24, 2015

not to worry



http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5b/Aeshna_cyanea_freshly_slipped_with_time.jpg





time lapse, Aeshna cynea freshly slipped

Böhringer Friedrich 

for a zoomable version with astonishing detail, 
click here 







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Thursday, January 22, 2015

love is








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love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail
it is most mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea

love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive
it is most sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky


–E. E. Cummings






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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

the transformation of material things







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Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again.
Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.
Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things.

–Chuang Chou
Lin Yutang translation




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