Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Infinite has no preferences

From Aphorisms for Thirsty Fish, The Lost Writings of Wu Hsin:

The greatest crime is
The overlooking of
Who you really are in favor of
The story of
Who you think you are.
This preoccupation with
Your personal drama is
The cloud that masks the sun.

*    *    *    *

To search for happiness
Implies its absence.
This implication is a fundamental flaw.
Happiness is ever present.
It may become obscured,
Such obscuration being temporary.

*    *    *    *

The greatest enjoyment is experienced
When there is no concern for its duration.

*    *    *    *

Expectation is the grandfather of
Disappointment.
The world can never
Own a man who wants nothing.

*    *    *    *

Nothing succeeds like failure.
Failure is a natural
Call for attention,
Like pain.
To pay attention is to
Step out of your trance.


*    *    *    *

Ridding oneself of ignorance is
Worth more than the acquisition of knowledge.
With memory gone
The past is gone
Relinquishing hopes and fears
The future is gone.
The present is upon you.
In every moment.
You are free.

*    *    *    *

To conquer the large,
Begin with the small.
To change your world,
Begin by changing yourself.
What needs to be changed?
Only the point of view.

*    *    *    *

You are not satisfied
With the answers
Given by others.
So you come to Wu Hsin.
But what you really seek
Are not answers
But confirmation
Of what you think
You already know.
If you were to admit
That you know nothing,
Then I will most gladly answer.


*    *    *    *

The sum of a past is I was.
The sum of a future is
I will be.
The continuous crossing back and forth
Between the two
Obscures the present moment,
The I am, Being Itself.

*    *    *    *

The man of contentment
Seeks nothing that
He doesn’t have and
Understands that
Whatever he has
Isn’t his to own.


*    *    *    *

The attachment to beliefs is
The greatest shackle.
To be free is
To know that
One does not know.

*    *    *    *

Controlling the mind doesn’t
Take one to freedom.
Controlling the mind
Adds another link
To one’s shackles.


*    *    *    *

Chasing after the things
One yearns for is
Inferior to
Chasing after
The source of the yearning.


*    *    *    *

Whereas pain is
A physical experience
Suffering is a mental one.
It is the sense that
Things should be
Other than they are.
Its antidote is Acceptance.

*    *    *    *

The Infinite has no preferences.
It kisses both the darkness and
The light equally.

Wu Hsin

For today, I will memorize

Dragonflies! There are dragonflies in this poem. That's what I will memorize from today. I saw them at a traffic signal when I went to Cubbon park this morning to check whether the pink tabebuia flowers of November have arrived early, just in case....

Solitudes
Margaret Gibson

For today, I will memorize
the two trees now in end-of-summer light

and the drifts of wood asters as the yard slopes away toward
the black pond, blue

dragonflies
in the clouds that shine and float there, as if risen

from the bottom, unbidden. Now, just over the fern—
quick—a glimpse of it,

the plume, a fox-tail's copper, as the dog runs in ovals and eights,
chasing scent.

The yard is a waiting room. I have my chair. You, yours.

The hawk has its branch in the pine.

White petals ripple in the quiet light.

In the quiet, a necklace of gourds on the fence.

A mourning cloak on a seeded spray of crabgrass.

An undulant whine of cicadas.

In Our Souls

In our souls everything
moves guided by a mysterious hand.
We know nothing of our own souls
that are un-understandable and say nothing.

The deepest words
of the wise man teach us
the same as the whistle of the wind when it blows
or the sound of the water when it is flowing.

Antonio Machado, 'The Soul is Here for Its Own Joy', trans. by Robert Bly

Then one day

Middle-Class Blues
Dennis O'Driscoll

He has everything.
A beautiful young wife.
A comfortable home.
A secure job.
A velvet three-piece suite.
A metallic-silver car.
A mahogany cocktail cabinet.
A rugby trophy.
A remote-controlled music centre.
A set of gold clubs under the hallstand.
A fair-haired daughter learning to walk.

What he is afraid of most
and what keeps him tossing some nights
on the electric underblanket,
listening to the antique clock
clicking with disapproval from the landing,
are the stories that begin:
He had everything.
A beautiful young wife.
A comfortable home.
A secure job.
Then one day.

Goodbye

Each day I woke as it started to get dark and the pain came. Month
after month of this—who knows when I got well, the way you do,
whether you like it or not.

With dawn now, risen from the rampage
of sleep, I am walking in the Lincoln woods. A single bird is
loudly singing. And I walk here as I always have, as though from
tall room to room in a more or less infinite house where the owner's
not home but is watching me somehow, observing my behavior,
from behind the two-way mirror of appearances, I suppose,
and listening, somewhat critically, to what I am thinking. Not too,
however.

At certain moments I could swear there is even a sense of
being liked, as sunlight changes swiftly, leaving, leaving and arriving
again. A bird is chirping bitterly, as if these words were meant
for me, as if their intent was within me, and will not speak.

Nothing
is left me of you.

Franz Wright

How Ocean Currents Explain Our Unconscious Social Biases

"Biases often work in surreptitious ways — they sneak in through the backdoor of our conscience, our good-personhood, and our highest rational convictions, and lodge themselves between us and the world, between our imperfect humanity and our aspirational selves, between who we believe we are and how we behave.

Those stealthy inner workings of bias are precisely what NPR science correspondent Shankar Vedantam explores in The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives (public library) — a sweeping, eye-opening, uncomfortable yet necessary account of how our imperceptible prejudices sneak past our conscious selves and produce “subtle cognitive errors that lay beneath the rim of awareness,” making our actions stand at odds with our intentions and resulting in everything from financial errors based on misjudging risk to voter manipulation to protracted conflicts between people, nations, and groups."

Read excerpts here:

The Hidden Brain: How Ocean Currents Explain Our Unconscious Social Biases
Maria Popova

http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/04/09/the-hidden-brain-shankar-vedantam/

Go Deeper than Love

Go deeper than love, for the soul has greater depths,
love is like the grass, but the heart is deep wild rock
molten, yet dense and permanent.

Go down to your deep old heart, and lose sight of yourself.

And lose sight of me, the me whom you turbulently loved.
Let us lose sight of ourselves, and break the mirrors.

For the fierce curve of our lives is moving again to the depths
out of sight, in the deep living heart.

D.H. Lawrence, excerpt from Know Thyself, Know Thyself More Deeply

Autumn

All day I have watched the purple vine leaves
Fall into the water.
And now in the moonlight they still fall,
But each leaf is fringed with silver.

Amy Lowell

Sunday, October 5, 2014

September Tomatoes

The whiskey stink of rot has settled
in the garden, and a burst of fruit flies rises
when I touch the dying tomato plants.

Still, the claws of tiny yellow blossoms
flail in the air as I pull the vines up by the roots
and toss them in the compost.

It feels cruel. Something in me isn’t ready
to let go of summer so easily. To destroy
what I’ve carefully cultivated all these months.
Those pale flowers might still have time to fruit.

My great-grandmother sang with the girls of her village
as they pulled the flax. Songs so old
and so tied to the season that the very sound
seemed to turn the weather.
 
Karina Borowicz

There Will Come Soft Rains

 There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
 And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

 And frogs in the pools singing at night,
 And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

 Robins will wear their feathery fire,
 Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

 And not one will know of the war, not one
 Will care at last when it is done.

 Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
 If mankind perished utterly;

 And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
 Would scarcely know that we were gone.

Sara Teasdale

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Sunlight will win

Publication Date
Franz Wright

One of the few pleasures of writing
is the thought of one’s book in the hands of a kindhearted
intelligent person somewhere. I can’t remember what the others
are right now.
I just noticed that it is my own private

National I Hate Myself and Want to Die Day
(which means the next day I will love my life
and want to live forever). The forecast calls
for a cold night in Boston all morning

and all afternoon. They say
tomorrow will be just like today,
only different. I’m in the cemetery now
at the edge of town, how did I get here?

A sparrow limps past on its little bone crutch saying
I am Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca
risen from the dead —
literature will lose, sunlight will win, don’t worry.

Did you have any trouble with the directions?

I think about this quite often. And therefor my enjoyment of every fallen leaf.

My number
Billy Collins

Is Death miles away from this house,
reaching for a widow in Cincinnati
or breathing down the neck of a lost hiker
in British Columbia?

Is he too busy making arrangements,
tampering with air brakes,
scattering cancer cells like seeds,
loosening the wooden beams of roller coasters

to bother with my hidden cottage
that visitors find so hard to find?

Or is he stepping from a black car
parked at the dark end of the lane,
shaking open the familiar cloak,
its hood raised like the head of a crow,
and removing the scythe from the trunk?

Did you have any trouble with the directions?
I will ask, as I start talking my way out of this.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Just look at September, look at October!




















"...From the Buddhist point of view, reality itself has no meaning since it is not a sign, pointing to something beyond itself. To arrive at reality - at "suchness" - is to go beyond karma, beyond consequential action, and to enter a life which is completely aimless. Yet to Zen and Taoism alike, this is the very life of the universe, which is complete at every moment and does not need to justify itself by aiming at something beyond.

In the words of a Zenrin poem:

"If you don't believe, just look at September, look at October!
The yellow leaves falling, falling, to fill both mountain and river!"

'The Way of Zen', by Alan Watts

Photos: https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/106491954401233999557/albums/6063982657037278641

Monet Refuses The Operation





















Doctor, you say there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.

I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don’t see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.

Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers.

What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?

I will not return to a universe
of objects that don’t know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent.  The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,

becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.

To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and change our bones, skin, clothes
to gases.  Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.

Lisel Mueller

Every afternoon that autumn

We Shall Be Released
Joseph Stroud

Every afternoon that autumn
walking across campus
past the conservatory
I heard the soprano
practicing

her voice rising
making its way up the scale
straining to claim each note
weeks of work
of days
growing shorter
darker

storms slamming the campus
the semester staggering
to an end
everyone exhausted
drained
heading out and going home
the campus nearly deserted

but the soprano
still working the scales
when I passed under the trees
the liquidambars on fire
the clouds like great cities
sailing out to sea

and didn't I ascend
with her
my own weariness
and sorrows
dropping away

didn't we rise together
her voice straining
wavering
at the top of its range
almost reaching
almost claiming
that high
free-of-the-body
final note.

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