Sunday, May 22, 2016

One Way to Spend an Afternoon Together

Our noisy outer world is but a reflection of the noise inside: our incessant need to be occupied, to be doing something.

Three Types of Laziness, Tenzin Palmo

Sit with me. Let’s say nothing at all.
There is nothing that must be said.
The impulse to comment on weather,
we’ll feel it rise and melt away.

The weather will do what the weather does,
will rain, will shine, will hail.
Perhaps we will feel the need
to comment on the light or to wonder

when things will be different than they are now
or to worry about all the problems
that we will never be able to fix.
Urgency only lasts so long before
it disappears. How did we ever

believe we belonged anywhere
but here? Though the rain
is gone, the scent of rain persists.
If we are quiet long enough,
it will say everything that must be said.

Rosemerry Trommer

Some days


Some days I find myself
putting my foot in
the same stream twice;
leading a horse to water
and making him drink.
I have a clue.
I can see the forest
for the trees.

All around me people
are making silk purses
out of sows’ ears,
getting blood from turnips,
building Rome in a day.
There’s a business
like show business.
There’s something new
under the sun.

Some days misery
no longer loves company;
it puts itself out of its.
There’s rest for the weary.
There’s turning back.
There are guarantees.
I can be serious.
I can mean that.
You can quite
put your finger on it.

Some days I know
I am long for this world.
I can go home again.
And when I go
I can
take it with me.

Ronald Wallace

The willingness to blossom

Out of the Days

What does that do to the old blood moving through its channels?
Naomi Shihab Nye, 'Fresh'

So much we do not need—
the old t-shirts at the back
of the closet, the secret
ingredient in Aunt Jean’s
tuna casserole, the pity
of strangers, the growing stack
of journals we promise
ourselves we will someday read,
the memorized jingles
from TV commercials
we sang when we were young.

And then there’s the list of what
we cannot do without—
the willingness to blossom
out of our own detritus,
the capacity to laugh a real
unguarded laugh, a joy
in unlearning whatever we
think we know, and
the grace to let our story
re-write itself even as we
fear turning the page.

Rosemerry Trommer


To move

Needing to be
Nowhere else.

Wanting nothing
From any store.

To lift something
You already had
And set it down in
A new place.

Awakened eye
Seeing freshly.

What does that do to
The old blood moving through
Its channels?

Naomi Shihab Nye

Niroshta Raagam

Niroshta -

"Niroshta literally means without the lips.If the lips do not meet / touch, then the notes Ma and Pa cannot be uttered.This scale does not use either note and hence the name. It is a very pleasing rāgam."

Friday, May 13, 2016

Willful Blindness

"...Our blindness grows out of the small, daily decisions that we make, which embed us more snugly inside our affirming thoughts and values. And what’s most frightening about this process is that as we see less and less, we feel more comfort and greater certainty. We think we see more — even as the landscape shrinks.

...We make ourselves powerless when we choose not to know. But we give ourselves hope when we insist on looking. The very fact that willful blindness is willed, that it is a product of a rich mix of experience, knowledge, thinking, neurons, and neuroses, is what gives us the capacity to change it. Like Lear, we can learn to see better, not just because our brain changes but because we do.

As all wisdom does, seeing starts with simple questions: What could I know, should I know, that I don’t know? Just what am I missing here?"

Why We Ignore the Obvious: The Psychology of Willful Blindness
How to counter the gradual narrowing of our horizons

Pain is a way in


is the doorway to the here and now. Physical or emotional pain is an ultimate form of ground, saying, to each of us, in effect, there is no other place than this place, no other body than this body, no other limb or joint or pang or sharpness or heartbreak but this searing presence. Pain asks us to heal by focusing not only on the place the pain is felt but also the actual way the pain is felt. Pain is a form of alertness and particularity; pain is a way in.

...Pain is the first proper step to real compassion; it can be a foundation for understanding all those who struggle with their existence. Experiencing real pain ourselves, our moral superiority comes to an end; we stop urging others to get with the program, to get their act together or to sharpen up, and start to look for the particular form of debilitation, visible or invisible that every person struggles to overcome. In pain, we suddenly find our understanding and compassion engaged as to why others may find it hard to fully participate.

..Lastly, pain is appreciation; for most of all the simple possibility and gift of a pain free life - all the rest is a bonus. Others do not know the gift in simply being healthy, of being unconsciously free to move or walk or run. Pain is a lonely road, no one can know the measure of our particular agonies, but through pain we have the possibility, just the possibility, of coming to know others as we have, with so much difficulty, come to know ourselves.

David Whyte, 'Pain' From 'Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words'

From here.

A Happy Sisyphus

The Myth of Perfectability
Linda Pastan

I hang the still life of flowers
by a window so it can receive
the morning light, as flowers must.

But sun will fade the paint,
so I move the picture to the east centre
of a dark wall, over the mantel
where it looks too much like a trophy -
one of those animal heads
but made up of blossoms.

I move it again to a little wall
down a hallway where I can come upon it
almost by chance, the way the Japanese
put a small window in an obscure place,
hoping that the sight of a particular landscape
will startle them with beauty as they pass,
and not become familiar.

I do this all day long, moving
the picture or sometimes a chair or a vase
from place to place. Or else
putting in a comma to slow down
a long sentence, then taking it out,
then putting it back again

until I feel like a happy Sisyphus,
or like a good farmer who knows
that the body's work is never over,
for the motions of plowing and planting continue
season after season, even in his sleep.

Sometimes a poem is all you can do

When The World Overwhelms

I print out poems on hot pink pages
handing them out in the business district,
moving through the dark cool canyons
between towers of glass and steel.

Sometimes a poem is all you can do.
Like breathing,
or walking with your head tipped back
so you can see the sky.

Oriah House (c) 2015


was what they called you in high school
if you tripped on a shoelace in the hall
and all your books went flying.

Or if you walked into an open locker door,
you would be known as Einstein,
who imagined riding a streetcar into infinity.

Later, genius became someone
who could take a sliver of chalk and square pi
a hundred places out beyond the decimal point,

or a man painting on his back on a scaffold,
or drawing a waterwheel in a margin,
or spinning out a little night music.

But earlier this week on a wooded path,
I thought the swans afloat on the reservoir
were the true geniuses,
the ones who had figured out how to fly,
how to be both beautiful and brutal,
and how to mate for life.

Twenty-four geniuses in all,
for I numbered them as Yeats had done,
deployed upon the calm, crystalline surface—

forty-eight if we count their white reflections,
or an even fifty if you want to throw in me
and the dog running up ahead,

who were at least smart enough to be out
that morning—she sniffing the ground,
me with my head up in the bright morning air.

Billy Collins, from Aimless Love. © Random House, 2013

My Hero

Just as the hare is zipping across the finish line,
the tortoise has stopped once again
by the roadside,
this time to stick out his neck
and nibble a bit of sweet grass,
unlike the previous time
when he was distracted
by a bee humming in the heart of a wildflower...

Billy Collins

Generous Listening

"Generous listening is powered by curiosity, a virtue we can invite and nurture in ourselves to render it instinctive. It involves a kind of vulnerability - a willingness to be surprised, to let go of assumptions and take in ambiguity. The listener wants to understand the humanity behind the words of the other, and patiently summons one's own best self and one's own best words and questions."

Generous listening in fact yields better questions."

Krista Tippett, 'Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living'

Conveyor Belt

Confession of a Feminist

I am a feminist, he said.
I believe in equality
Except when it comes
To falling in love.

In passion there can be no equality;
We fall in love not with equals
Who eat and drink and yawn like us

But with people bigger than us,
With angels and demons
Who yank us out
Of our endless conveyor belts.

Philip John

From here.

Your perception of the world mirrors the condition of your heart

Shared by a Chinese colleague in my team:

"There once was a man named Su Shi, also known as Su Dongpo, who lived in China during the Song dynasty (960-1279). Su Dongpo was brilliant scholar, writer, poet and statesman. He was was also a devoted student of Chan (Zen) Buddhism. Su Dongpo lived across the river from his friend and spiritual teacher, Master Foyin of the Golden Mountain Temple.

One day while visiting with Master Foyin over tea, Su Dongpo, who prided himself on his wit, intellectual acumen, and prowess in debate, challenged the Master,

“Foyin, people see you as an enlightened monk, but to me you look like nothing but a big, stinking pile of worthless shit sitting on your pillow all day long.”

Then Su Dongpo leaned back, crossed his arms smugly, waiting to see how the Master would respond.

After a time, Master Foyin smiled, placed his hands together in prayer and replied, “My dear Dongpo, to me you look like a Buddha.“ And then he said no more.

Feeling very satisfied with himself for having outsmarted his teacher, Su Dongpo grinned, arose and bade the Master farewell. When he arrived home, he wasted no time in sharing his triumph with his sister,
"Sister, today I outwitted Master Foyin in debate,” he proclaimed proudly, recounting the entire story in great detail, so as to savour the taste of his victory once again.

After some time patiently listening to the story, Su Dongpo’s sister replied: “Oh brother! No, no! Do you not see? You did not win. The Master bested you without you even realizing it!”

Scandalized, Su Dongpo exclaimed, “What do you mean?”

“Brother, do you not see that your perception of the world mirrors the condition of your heart? Master Foyin sees you as a Buddha because he is a Buddha. You see him as a pile of shit. Now what does that make you?”

Su Dongpo fell silent, suddenly realizing just how foolish and ignorant he really was."

Blog Archive