BREATHE IN THE LIGHT
ॐ भूर्भुवः स्वः ।
भर्गो॑ दे॒वस्य॑ धीमहि ।
धियो॒ यो नः॑ प्रचो॒दया॑त् ॥
om bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ
tát savitúr váreṇ(i)yaṃ
bhárgo devásya dhīmahi
dhíyo yó naḥ prachodayāt
– Rig Veda 3.62.10
Om Amideva Hrih
OM AMIDEVA HRIH
Om Muni Muni Mahamuni So Ha
To the Teacher, Teacher, the Great Teacher, I Pay Homage
Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha
Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha
The Mantra of Prajna Paramita
“She saw that all phenomena arose, abided, and fell away. She saw that knowing this (itself) arose, abided, and fell away. Then she knew there was nothing more than this, no ground, nothing to lean on, stronger than the cane she held. Nothing to lean upon at all, and no one leaning … And she opened the clenched fist in her mind and let go, and fell, into the midst of everything.”
Teijitsu, 18th century abbess of Hakujuan, a Zen Buddhist nunnery near Eiheiji, Japan
There is no suffering, no accumulating, no extinction, and no Way, and no understanding and no attaining. Because nothing is attained, the Bodhisattva through reliance on Prajna Paramita is unimpeded in his mind. Because there is no impediment, he is not afraid, and he leaves distorted dream-thinking far behind.
When Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva was practicing the profound prajna paramita, he illuminated the five skandhas and saw that they are all empty, and he crossed beyond all suffering and difficulty.
Shariputra, form does not differ from emptiness; emptiness does not differ from form. Form itself is emptiness; emptiness itself is form. So, too, are feeling, cognition, formation, and consciousness.
Shariputra, all dharmas are empty of characteristics. They are not produced. Not destroyed, not defiled, not pure, and they neither increase nor diminish. Therefore, in emptiness there is no form, feeling, cognition, formation, or consciousness; no eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, or mind; no sights, sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, or dharmas; no field of the eyes, up to and including no field of mind-consciousness; and no ignorance or ending of ignorance, up to and including no old age and death or ending of old age and death. There is no suffering, no accumulating, no extinction, no way, and no understanding and no attaining.
Because nothing is attained, the Bodhisattva, through reliance on prajna paramita, is unimpeded in his mind. Because there is no impediment, he is not afraid, and he leaves distorted dream-thinking far behind. Ultimately Nirvana!
All Buddhas of the three periods of time attain Anuttarasamyaksambodhi through reliance on prajna paramita. Therefore, know that prajna paramita is a great spiritual mantra, a great bright mantra, a supreme mantra, an unequalled mantra. It can remove all suffering; it is genuine and not false. That is why the mantra of prajna paramita was spoken. Recite it like this:
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha!
Pulcherrima rosa de spina floruit
Ex flore germinosa lilium genuit
Servans pudorem ex virgineo more
Peperit factura factorem.
Virgo singularis te nulla dignior
Fulgens stella maris luna lucidior
Sic succuristi regina mundo tristi
Eve matris sic quae noxam que solvisti.
Esto nobis grata tis aput filium
Mater advocata post hoc exilium
Nos per iuvamen pater natus ac flamen
Tuum mater virgo solvat omnes. Amen.
A Feather on the Breath of God, Hildegard von Bingen
Listen. There was once a king, sitting on his throne. Around him stood great and wonderfully beautiful columns, bearing the banners of the king with great honour. Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground and he commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself, but because the air bore it along. Thus am I.
Invocation of the Muse, from Homer's Odyssey
O DIVINE POESY
GODDESS-DAUGHTER OF ZEUS
SUSTAIN FOR ME
THIS SONG OF THE VARIOUS-MINDED MAN
WHO AFTER HE HAD PLUNDERED
THE INNERMOST CITADEL OF HALLOWED TROY
WAS MADE TO STRAY GRIEVOUSLY
ABOUT THE COASTS OF MEN
THE SPORT OF THEIR CUSTOMS GOOD OR BAD
WHILE HIS HEART
THROUGH ALL THE SEA-FARING
ACHED IN AN AGONY TO REDEEM HIMSELF
AND BRING HIS COMPANY SAFE HOME
VAIN HOPE—FOR THEM
FOR HIS FELLOWS HE STROVE IN VAIN
THEIR OWN WITLESSNESS CAST THEM AWAY
TO DESTROY FOR MEAT
THE OXEN OF THE MOST EXALTED SUN
WHEREFORE THE SUN-GOD BLOTTED OUT
THE DAY OF THEIR RETURN
MAKE THE TALE LIVE FOR US
IN ALL ITS MANY BEARINGS
(Translated by T E Lawrence)
All Men Dream, T E Lawrence
All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act out their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.
(Seven Pillars of Wisdom)
Behold the Dreamer, Martin Luther King
Behold the dreamer
For he cometh with a dream
You can kill the dreamer
But you cannot kill the dream.
Thought, D H Lawrence
Thought, I love thought.
But not the juggling and twisting of already existent ideas.
I despise that self-important game.
Thought is the welling up of unknown life into consciousness,
Thought is the testing of statements on the touchstone of consciousness,
Thought is gazing onto the face of life, and reading what can be read,
Thought is pondering over experience, and coming to conclusion.
Thought is not a trick, or an exercise, or a set of dodges,
Thought is a man in his wholeness, wholly attending.
The Perils of Indifference, Elie Wiesel
Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton, members of Congress, Ambassador Holbrooke, Excellencies, friends: Fifty-four years ago to the day, a young Jewish boy from a small town in the Carpathian Mountains woke up, not far from Goethe’s beloved Weimar, in a place of eternal infamy called Buchenwald. He was finally free, but there was no joy in his heart. He thought there never would be again.
Liberated a day earlier by American soldiers, he remembers their rage at what they saw. And even if he lives to be a very old man, he will always be grateful to them for that rage, and also for their compassion. Though he did not understand their language, their eyes told him what he needed to know — that they, too, would remember, and bear witness.
And now, I stand before you, Mr. President — Commander-in-Chief of the army that freed me, and tens of thousands of others — and I am filled with a profound and abiding gratitude to the American people.
Gratitude is a word that I cherish. Gratitude is what defines the humanity of the human being. And I am grateful to you, Hillary — or Mrs. Clinton — for what you said, and for what you are doing for children in the world, for the homeless, for the victims of injustice, the victims of destiny and society. And I thank all of you for being here.
We are on the threshold of a new century, a new millennium. What will the legacy of this vanishing century be? How will it be remembered in the new millennium? Surely it will be judged, and judged severely, in both moral and metaphysical terms. These failures have cast a dark shadow over humanity: two World Wars, countless civil wars, the senseless chain of assassinations — Gandhi, the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, Sadat, Rabin — bloodbaths in Cambodia and Nigeria, India and Pakistan, Ireland and Rwanda, Eritrea and Ethiopia, Sarajevo and Kosovo; the inhumanity in the gulag and the tragedy of Hiroshima. And, on a different level, of course, Auschwitz and Treblinka. So much violence, so much indifference.
What is indifference? Etymologically, the word means “no difference.” A strange and unnatural state in which the lines blur between light and darkness, dusk and dawn, crime and punishment, cruelty and compassion, good and evil.
What are its courses and inescapable consequences? Is it a philosophy? Is there a philosophy of indifference conceivable? Can one possibly view indifference as a virtue? Is it necessary at times to practice it simply to keep one’s sanity, live normally, enjoy a fine meal and a glass of wine, as the world around us experiences harrowing upheavals?
Of course, indifference can be tempting — more than that, seductive. It is so much easier to look away from victims. It is so much easier to avoid such rude interruptions to our work, our dreams, our hopes. It is, after all, awkward, troublesome, to be involved in another person’s pain and despair. Yet, for the person who is indifferent, his or her neighbor are of no consequence. And, therefore, their lives are meaningless. Their hidden or even visible anguish is of no interest. Indifference reduces the other to an abstraction.
Over there, behind the black gates of Auschwitz, the most tragic of all prisoners were the “Muselmanner,” as they were called. Wrapped in their torn blankets, they would sit or lie on the ground, staring vacantly into space, unaware of who or where they were, strangers to their surroundings. They no longer felt pain, hunger, thirst. They feared nothing. They felt nothing. They were dead and did not know it.
Rooted in our tradition, some of us felt that to be abandoned by humanity then was not the ultimate. We felt that to be abandoned by God was worse than to be punished by Him. Better an unjust God than an indifferent one. For us to be ignored by God was a harsher punishment than to be a victim of His anger. Man can live far from God — not outside God. God is wherever we are. Even in suffering? Even in suffering.
In a way, to be indifferent to that suffering is what makes the human being inhuman. Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger and hatred. Anger can at times be creative. One writes a great poem, a great symphony, one does something special for the sake of humanity because one is angry at the injustice that one witnesses. But indifference is never creative. Even hatred at times may elicit a response. You fight it. You denounce it. You disarm it. Indifference elicits no response. Indifference is not a response.
Indifference is not a beginning, it is an end. And, therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor — never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten. The political prisoner in his cell, the hungry children, the homeless refugees — not to respond to their plight, not to relieve their solitude by offering them a spark of hope is to exile them from human memory. And in denying their humanity we betray our own.
Indifference, then, is not only a sin, it is a punishment. And this is one of the most important lessons of this outgoing century’s wide-ranging experiments in good and evil.
In the place that I come from, society was composed of three simple categories: the killers, the victims, and the bystanders. During the darkest of times, inside the ghettoes and death camps — and I’m glad that Mrs. Clinton mentioned that we are now commemorating that event, that period, that we are now in the Days of Remembrance — but then, we felt abandoned, forgotten. All of us did.
And our only miserable consolation was that we believed that Auschwitz and Treblinka were closely guarded secrets; that the leaders of the free world did not know what was going on behind those black gates and barbed wire; that they had no knowledge of the war against the Jews that Hitler’s armies and their accomplices waged as part of the war against the Allies.
If they knew, we thought, surely those leaders would have moved heaven and earth to intervene. They would have spoken out with great outrage and conviction. They would have bombed the railways leading to Birkenau, just the railways, just once.
And now we knew, we learned, we discovered that the Pentagon knew, the State Department knew. And the illustrious occupant of the White House then, who was a great leader — and I say it with some anguish and pain, because, today is exactly 54 years marking his death — Franklin Delano Roosevelt died on April the 12th, 1945, so he is very much present to me and to us.
No doubt, he was a great leader. He mobilized the American people and the world, going into battle, bringing hundreds and thousands of valiant and brave soldiers in America to fight fascism, to fight dictatorship, to fight Hitler. And so many of the young people fell in battle. And, nevertheless, his image in Jewish history — I must say it — his image in Jewish history is flawed.
The depressing tale of the St. Louis is a case in point. Sixty years ago, its human cargo — maybe 1,000 Jews — was turned back to Nazi Germany. And that happened after the Kristallnacht, after the first state sponsored pogrom, with hundreds of Jewish shops destroyed, synagogues burned, thousands of people put in concentration camps. And that ship, which was already on the shores of the United States, was sent back.
I don’t understand. Roosevelt was a good man, with a heart. He understood those who needed help. Why didn’t he allow these refugees to disembark? A thousand people — in America, a great country, the greatest democracy, the most generous of all new nations in modern history. What happened? I don’t understand. Why the indifference, on the highest level, to the suffering of the victims?
But then, there were human beings who were sensitive to our tragedy. Those non-Jews, those Christians, that we called the “Righteous Gentiles,” whose selfless acts of heroism saved the honor of their faith. Why were they so few? Why was there a greater effort to save SS murderers after the war than to save their victims during the war?
Why did some of America’s largest corporations continue to do business with Hitler’s Germany until 1942? It has been suggested, and it was documented, that the Wehrmacht could not have conducted its invasion of France without oil obtained from American sources. How is one to explain their indifference?
And yet, my friends, good things have also happened in this traumatic century: the defeat of Nazism, the collapse of communism, the rebirth of Israel on its ancestral soil, the demise of apartheid, Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt, the peace accord in Ireland. And let us remember the meeting, filled with drama and emotion, between Rabin and Arafat that you, Mr. President, convened in this very place. I was here and I will never forget it.
And then, of course, the joint decision of the United States and NATO to intervene in Kosovo and save those victims, those refugees, those who were uprooted by a man whom I believe that because of his crimes, should be charged with crimes against humanity. But this time, the world was not silent. This time, we do respond. This time, we intervene.
Does it mean that we have learned from the past? Does it mean that society has changed? Has the human being become less indifferent and more human? Have we really learned from our experiences? Are we less insensitive to the plight of victims of ethnic cleansing and other forms of injustices in places near and far? Is today’s justified intervention in Kosovo, led by you, Mr. President, a lasting warning that never again will the deportation, the terrorization of children and their parents be allowed anywhere in the world? Will it discourage other dictators in other lands to do the same?
What about the children? Oh, we see them on television, we read about them in the papers, and we do so with a broken heart. Their fate is always the most tragic, inevitably. When adults wage war, children perish. We see their faces, their eyes. Do we hear their pleas? Do we feel their pain, their agony? Every minute one of them dies of disease, violence, famine. Some of them — so many of them — could be saved.
And so, once again, I think of the young Jewish boy from the Carpathian Mountains. He has accompanied the old man I have become throughout these years of quest and struggle. And together we walk towards the new millennium, carried by profound fear and extraordinary hope.
Elie Wiesel – April 12, 1999
“No creo que seamos parientes cercanos, pero si Usted es capaz de temblar de indignación cada vez que se comete una injusticia en el mundo, somos compañeros, que es más importante.”
(Ernesto “Che” Guevara)
My Dear, Albert Camus
My dear, In the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love. In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile. In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm. I realized, through it all, that … In the midst of winter, I found that there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there is something stronger, something better, that is pushing right back.
(Summer in Algiers)
The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal Name. The unnameable is the eternally real. Naming is the origin of all particular things. Free from desire, you realize the mystery. Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations. Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source. This source is called darkness. Darkness within darkness. The gateway to all understanding.
When people see some things as beautiful, other things become ugly. When people see some things as good, other things become bad. Being and non-being create each other. Difficult and easy support each other. Long and short define each other. High and low depend on each other. Before and after follow each other. Therefore the Master acts without doing anything and teaches without saying anything. Things arise and he lets them come; things disappear and he lets them go. He has but doesn’t possess, acts but doesn’t expect. When his work is done, he forgets it. That is why it lasts forever.
If you over esteem great men, people become powerless. If you overvalue possessions, people begin to steal. The Master leads by emptying people’s minds and filling their cores, by weakening their ambition and toughening their resolve. He helps people lose everything they know, everything they desire, and creates confusion in those who think that they know. Practice not-doing, and everything will fall into place.
The Tao is like a well: used but never used up. It is like the eternal void: filled with infinite possibilities. It is hidden but always present. I don’t know who gave birth to it. It is older than God.
The Tao doesn’t take sides; it gives birth to both good and evil. The Master doesn’t take sides; he welcomes both saints and sinners.
The Tao is like a bellows: it is empty yet infinitely capable. The more you use it, the more it produces; the more you talk of it, the less you understand. Hold on to the centre.
The Tao is called the Great Mother: empty yet inexhaustible, it gives birth to infinite worlds. It is always present within you. You can use it any way you want.
The Tao is infinite, eternal. Why is it eternal? It was never born; thus it can never die. Why is it infinite? It has no desires for itself; thus it is present for all beings. The Master stays behind; that is why he is ahead. He is detached from all things; that is why he is one with them. Because he has let go of himself, he is perfectly fulfilled.
The supreme good is like water, which nourishes all things without trying to. It is content with the low places that people disdain. Thus it is like the Tao. In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present. When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.
Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt. Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench. Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner. Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.
Can you coax your mind from its wandering and keep to the original oneness? Can you let your body become supple as a new born child’s? Can you cleanse your inner vision until you see nothing but the light? Can you love people and lead them without imposing your will? Can you deal with the most vital matters by letting events take their course? Can you step back from you own mind and thus understand all things? Giving birth and nourishing, having without possessing, acting with no expectations, leading and not trying to control: this is the supreme virtue.
When Life Begins, Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu
When life begins we are tender and weak
When life ends we are stiff and rigid.
All things, the grass, the trees, the animals,
in life are soft and pliant,
in death they are dry and brittle.
An army that cannot yield will suffer defeat
A tree that cannot bend will break
So the soft and supple are the companions of life,
While the stiff and unyielding are the companions of death.
Surrender brings perfection.
And the whole universe is yours.
The sage becomes nothing
And gains everything.
Not displaying himself, he shines forth
Not promoting himself, he is distinguished,
Not claiming reward, he gains endless merit
Not seeking glory, his glory endures,
He knows to follow, so he is given command.
He does not compete, so no one competes with him.
Such a being rides upon the clouds,
And enters the sun
Passing out of this world with ease
and into the Eternal.
Fear nothing, except the failure to experience your true nature.
Speak nothing, unless you have lived it first.
The gate of heaven is wide open,
With not a single obstruction before it.
What can I say that hasn’t already been said?
What can I do that hasn’t already been done?
The joy is simply in the Being.
Not being this or that.
I like to watch the sun in the morning
And the moon watches over me at night.
Famous Sayings, Publius Terentius Afer (Terence)
Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto.
I am a human and consider nothing human to be alien (or foreign) to me.
Many a time a man cannot be such as he would be, if circumstances do not admit of it.
The highest law is often the greatest wrong.
What now if the sky were to fall?
Nothing is so difficult that it may not be found out by seeking.
Nothing has yet been said (or done) that has not been said (or done) before.
Many a time from a bad beginning has great friendship blossomed.
Fortis fortuna adiuvat.
Fortune favours the brave.
Quot homines tot sententiae: suus cuique mos.
So many men, so many opinions: to each his own way.
Nil est dictu facilius.
Nothing is easier to say.
I bid him look into the lives of men as though into a mirror, and from others to take an example for himself.
The Way of the World, Nicolas Bouvier
“Traveling outgrows its motives. It soon proves sufficient in itself. You think you are making a trip, but soon it is making you – or unmaking you.”
“That day, I really believed that I had grasped something and that henceforth my life would be changed. But insights cannot be held for ever. Like water, the world ripples across you and for a while you take on its colours. Then it recedes, and leaves you face to face with the void you carry inside yourself, confronting that central inadequacy of soul which you must learn to rub shoulders with and to combat, and which, paradoxically, may be our surest impetus.”
“In the end, the bedrock of existence is not made up of the family, or work, or what others say or think of you, but of moments like this when you are exalted by a transcendent power that is more serene than love. Life dispenses them parsimoniously; our feeble hearts could not stand more.”
“It is better to live among the crowd and keep a solitary life in your spirit than to live alone with your heart in the crowd.”
Melancholy, Edward Thomas
The rain and wind, the rain and wind, raved endlessly.
On me the Summer storm, and fever, and melancholy
Wrought magic, so that if I feared the solitude
Far more I feared all company: too sharp, too rude,
Had been the wisest or the dearest human voice.
What I desired I knew not, but whate’er my choice
Vain it must be, I knew. Yet naught did my despair
But sweeten the strange sweetness, while through the wild air
All day long I heard a distant cuckoo calling
And, soft as dulcimers, sounds of near water falling,
And, softer, and remote as if in history,
Rumours of what had touched my friends, my foes, or me.
A Psalm of Life, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist.
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
If—, Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Invictus, William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
Peace Prayer, St Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.
Seigneur, faites de moi un instrument de votre paix.
Là où il y a de la haine, que je mette l’amour.
Là où il y a l’offense, que je mette le pardon.
Là où il y a la discorde, que je mette l’union.
Là où il y a l’erreur, que je mette la vérité.
Là où il y a le doute, que je mette la foi.
Là où il y a le désespoir, que je mette l’espérance.
Là où il y a les ténèbres, que je mette votre lumière.
Là où il y a la tristesse, que je mette la joie.
Ô Maître, que je ne cherche pas tant
à être consolé qu’à consoler,
à être compris qu’à comprendre,
à être aimé qu’à aimer,
car c’est en donnant qu’on reçoit,
c’est en s’oubliant qu’on trouve,
c’est en pardonnant qu’on est pardonné,
c’est en mourant qu’on ressuscite à l’éternelle vie.
A Prayer of Unknowing, Thomas Merton
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Trust in the Slow Work of God, Teilhard de Chardin
Above all, trust in the slow work of God
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown,
Yet it is the law of all progress, that it is made
by passing through some stages of instability,
and that may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.
Your ides mature gradually. Let them grow.
Let them shape themselves without undue haste.
Do not try to force them on
as though you could be today what time – that is to say, grace –
acting on your own good will
will make you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new Spirit
gradually forming in you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God,
our loving wine-dresser.
His Pilgrimage, Sir Walter Raleigh
Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My scrip of joy, immortal diet,
My bottle of salvation,
My gown of glory, hope’s true gage;
And thus I’ll take my pilgrimage.
Blood must be my body’s balmer;
No other balm will there be given:
Whilst my soul, like quiet palmer,
Travelleth towards the land of heaven;
Over the silver mountains,
Where spring the nectar fountains;
There will I kiss
The bowl of bliss;
And drink mine everlasting fill
Upon every milken hill.
My soul will be a-dry before;
But, after, it will thirst no more.
Love Songs, Yunus Emre
Prayer was created by God so man could ask for help.
It’s too bad if you haven’t learned to ask.
I am the sorrowing waterwheel,
My waters flow and flow,
This is what God has commanded, and
For this I weep and moan.
I lift the waters up from deep below,
I spin around and push them up;
See these worldly sorrows turn,
For which I weep and moan.
We entered the house of realization,
we witnessed the body.
The whirling skies, the many-layered earth,
the seventy-thousand veils,
we found in the body.
The night and the day, the planets,
the words inscribed on the Holy Tablets,
the hill that Moses climbed, the Temple,
and Israfil’s trumpet, we observed in the body.
Torah, Psalms, Gospel, Quran –
what these books have to say,
we found in the body.
Everybody says these words of Yunus
are true. Truth is wherever you want it.
We found it all within the body.
I haven’t come here to settle down.
I’ve come here to depart.
I am a merchant with lots of goods,
selling to whoever will buy.
I didn’t come to create any problems,
I’m only here to love.
A Heart makes a good home for the Friend.
I’ve come to build some hearts.
I’m a little drunk from this Friendship-
Any lover would know the shape I’m in.
I’ve come to exchange my twoness,
to disappear in One.
He is my teacher. I am His servant.
I am a nightingale in His garden
to be happy and die singing.
They say “Souls which know each other here,
know each other there.”
I’ve come to know a Teacher
and to show myself as I am.
A single word can brighten the face
of one who knows the value of words.
Ripened in silence, a single word
acquires a great energy for work.
War is cut short by a word,
and a word heals the wounds,
and there’s a word that changes
poison into butter and honey.
Let a word mature inside yourself.
Withhold the unripened thought.
Come and understand the kind of word
that reduces money and riches to dust.
Know when to speak a word
and when not to speak at all.
A single word turns a universe of hell
into eight paradises.
Follow the Way. Don’t be fooled
by what you already know. Be watchful.
Reflect before you speak.
A foolish mouth can brand your soul.
Yunus, say one last thing
about the power of words-
Only the word “I”
divides me from God.
That by which our hearts are held,
whole worlds love it too.
I can’t deny the truth –
many ways lead to the One.
Those whom the Beloved loves,
we must also love.
If someone is a friend to the Friend,
how can we afford not to be friends?
If you would be a lover,
befriend him who loves your Friend;
and if you cannot,
don’t call yourself a friend of mine.
Whomever you tend to despise,
hold dear instead.
Don’t belittle others, respect them.
This is where the path leads.
If your heart is filled with love,
your way is sacrifice.
Through sacrifice you will find your place
in the ranks of Love.
Hearts which truly love the Truth,
Truth will open a door wide.
Dismantle the house of selfishness.
Put away your self-regard.
High and low, enemy, neighbour,
the Friend serves them all.
Whoever wants to spread this word
must first go out of his home.
This counsel that Yunus gives
is like buried gold.
Those who love the Friend
find peace in both worlds.
True speech is the fruit of not speaking.
Too much talking clouds the heart.
They say one who is received by a heart
becomes more beautiful.
My life came and went
like the wind, between the opening
and closing of an eye.
As Truth is my witness
the soul is the body’s guest.
A day is going to come when
like a bird, it flies out of the cage.
The Circle at the Crossroads - How To Play the Cretan Lyre
In Crete, there is a very old story, which explains how to play the lyre.
According to this story, the student must position himself alone and with his lyre at a crossroads before sunset.
Here he must draw a circle in the ground, sit in this circle and wait until it gets dark.
Sometime after nightfall, demons will appear before him, which will persistently challenge him to step outside his circle.
Under no circumstances must he do this, because outside the circle, the demons would eat him.
However, they are unable to penetrate the circle. Once the demons have understood that the lyre student cannot be moved, they ask him for his lyre.
He cautiously hands it over, in the knowledge that his guests are incomparable lyre players.
He remains seated for the whole night through and listens as the demons, one after the other, play him their enchanting melodies.
As soon as dawn approaches, his teachers prepare to depart and they return his lyre.
The student must then stick his small finger out of the circle and the demons eat it as payment.
At daybreak, the lyre player is once again alone.
He steps outside the circle and returns home, where he tries for the rest of his life to imitate the melodies which he heard that night.
(Inspiration from Ross Daly, and the documentary film, “The Circle at the Crossroads”)
Reflection, Li Ch'ing-chao
Dreary window wobbly desk no good books
I’ve ended up like poor Kung-lu
from local wine and strings of coins
and what fills the days with laughter
I’ve retreated behind my door to write
in this perfumed dwelling full of artful thoughts
I’ve found true friends in the silence
Sir Void and Mister Nothing
(Translation by Bill Porter)
Dew on the Leek, Ts'ao Chih
There’s no end to Heaven and Earth
light and shade take turns
people live but awhile
suddenly we’re dust in the wind
I hoped to perform meritorious deeds
to devote myself to my lord
to assist my king with my talents
with an open and unbiased heart
swimming things honour dragons of the deep
running things honour a unicorn
if creatures can recognize virtue
why not the gentlemen at court
in the works compiled by Confucius
the royal way is abundantly clear
I offer this modest brush of mine
to promote sweetness and style
(Translation by Bill Porter)
Songs from the Heart, Juan Chi
Late at night unable to sleep
I sat up and played my zither
moonlight shone through the curtains
a cool breeze ruffled my robe
in the distant wilds a lone goose cried
above the north woods a circling bird called
this way then that searching for something
while anxious thoughts troubled my heart
(Translation by Bill Porter)
Song of the Hill
年代: 先秦 作者: 先秦無名
The hill I climb
its slopes are steep
the Tao of Harmony rises ahead
but only gets farther away
having lost the path home
and beset by hardships
I lament and reflect
with Taishan before me
and Liangfu in between
its trails choked with thorns
and no way around
and me with no axe
and more troubles every day
I can’t stop sighing
my tears form a stream.
(Translation by Bill Porter).
Ugly Slave, Hsin Ch'i-chi
I didn’t know the taste of sadness in my youth
I loved to climb towers
I loved to climb towers
and in my poems I forced myself to speak of sadness
Knowing the taste of sadness now too well
I start to speak of it but stop
I start to speak of it but stop
and say instead “What a chilly autumn day”
(Translation by Bill Porter)
Alas, Ts'ao Chih
This tumbleweed alas
in the world yet alone
forever cut off from its roots
day and night never resting
east and west down the Seven Highways
north and south beyond the Nine Byways
meeting a gust of wind
suddenly blown into the clouds
thinking to explore the ways of Heaven
I suddenly fell into a deep abyss
a whirlwind carried me to safety
back toward the fields I once knew
but heading south I was blown north
heading east I was blown west
where in this world can I stay
I’m here then I’m gone
drifting across the Eight Rivers
flying past the Five Peaks
wandering without a home
my hardships known to none
I wish I were orchard grass
burned up in the autumn fire
of course such an end would be painful
but I could then rejoin my old roots
(Translation by Bill Porter)
Thinking of Li Pai on a Spring Day, Tu Fu
The poetry of Li Pai has no equal
the etherealness of his thoughts is unique
purer and fresher than Yu Hsin’s
more refined and unrestrained than Pao Chao’s
on the Wei’s north shore beneath flowering trees
or east of the Yangtze below evening clouds
where will we share that cup of wine
and discuss the art of words again
(Translation by Bill Porter)
From An Ode to Droning, Ch'eng Tzu-an
… a sound not dependent on an instrument
a technique free of tools
using what one has at hand
focusing the mind and controlling the breath
you move your lips and a tune appears
you open your mouth and a sound comes forth
whatever you meet or encounter
inspires a response in song
it isn’t discordant when it’s loud
it doesn’t sound weak when it’s faint
it’s purer and more piercing than a flute
softer and more refined than a zither
ethereal enough to reach the realm of spirits
subtle enough to probe the deepest depths
creatures all dance and tap their feet
phoenixes prance and flap their wings
know then the wonder of droning
is the pinnacle of sounds
(Translation by Bill Porter)
Commentary on the Shihching, or Book of Poetry
“Poetry is what the heart holds dear put into words”.
(Thanks again for the words, the poetry, the heart – and the great inspiration – of the dear Bill Porter / Red Pine).
Bamboo Retreat, Wang Wei
Sitting alone amid dense bamboo
playing my zither and droning
deep in the forest no one else knows
until the bright moon looks down
(Translation by Bill Porter)
Rest In Natural Great Peace, Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
Rest in natural great peace, this exhausted mind,
Beaten helplessly by karma and neurotic thoughts
Like the relentless fury of the pounding waves
In the infinite ocean of samsara.
Rest in natural great peace.
A Notebook of the Heart - As Inspired by the Song of Erdal Erzincan, the Asik, the Troubador, the Alevi
One could perhaps imagine God as the perfect human being, and the human being as a species of longing for that divine perfection.
The human being is a universe in miniature.
And everything that is existing in the universe, is also existing in a human being.
Everyone is or has within themselves this universe, but while some are able easily to discern and explore that universe, others do so with difficulty.
The people who can discern and explore that inner universe are those who can then intuit a little, if only ever so little, of the secret mysteries, of the divine.
You reach a knowledge of God through the knowledge that you have of yourself.
Your own inner world – this is what you find in the Notebook of the Heart.
I open this Notebook of the Heart.
I am reading everything that is in it.
I am writing out everything that is in it.
And in this way I am learning to know myself – and to know myself means that I come to know a little, if ever so little, of the secret knowledge of God.
I read the Self as itself an expression, or word, of God.
And I have written out this Notebook of the Heart, and it has written me.
And I am reading from it now.
This is what “Asik”, the troubadour, says in the song, because actually it’s not me who says it, it’s the “Asik” – that divinely inspired, if sometimes drunken, or else despondent, poet, who somehow remembers the words to all the songs, happy and sad, and sings them, in my heart – here sounding at once vibrant, and quivering in beauty, like a good angel, or an innocent, wondering child, and here sounding somewhat raucous, and rioting, and devilishly knowing, and naughty – and negating all. Here creating, and here questioning that creation.
And Alevi philosophy is connected to nature.
Would you come to understand that?
It opens a world that only people who are close to nature can feel and live.
You cannot understand it if you go away from nature.
And, in this belief, God is not the one who creates nature.
God is nature.
In Praise of Vac - and Vocation - Finding, and Sounding, the Voice - In Free Expression
VÄk or VÄc is the Sanskrit word for “speech”, from a verbal root vac- “speak, tell, utter”.
VÄk is also a Vedic goddess, a personified form of speech. She enters into the inspired poets and visionaries, gives expression and energy to those she loves, she is called the “mother of the Vedas” and consort of Indra in Aitareya Aranyaka. Elsewhere, such as in the Padma Purana, she is stated to be the wife of Vision (Kashyapa), the mother of Emotions, and the friend of Musicians (Gandharva).
She is identified with goddess Sarasvati in later Vedic literature and post-Vedic texts of Hindu traditions. Sarasvati has remained a significant and revered deity in Hinduism.
In the early Rigveda (books 2 to 7), vÄc- refers to cosmic sound, envisioned as feminine. Vac as the earliest sounds is mentioned in Rigvedic thought in RV 10.71.1-4, as the source of language, words some hear but don’t understand, as follows:
“When men, Brhaspati!, giving names to objects, sent out Vak’s first and earliest utterances
All that was excellent and spotless, treasured within them, was disclosed through their affection.”
“Where, like men cleansing corn-flour in a cribble, the wise in spirit have created language,
Friends see and recognize the marks of friendship: their speech retains the blessed sign imprinted.”
“With sacrifice the trace of Vak they followed, and found her harbouring within the Rsis.
They brought her, dealt her forth in many places: seven singers make her tones resound in concert.”
“One man hath ne’er seen Vak, and yet he seeth: one man hath hearing but hath never heard her.
But to another hath she shown her beauty as a fond well-dressed woman to her husband.”
Vak also speaks, and is described as a goddess, in RV 8.100:
“When, uttering words which no one comprehended, Vak, Queen of Gods, the Gladdener, was seated,
The heaven’s four regions drew forth drink and vigour: now whither hath her noblest portion vanished?”
“The Deities generated Vak the Goddess, and animals of every figure speak her.
May she, the Gladdener, yielding food and vigour, the Milch-cow Vak, approach us meetly lauded.”
RV 1.164.45 uses the word Vac in the sense of speech, as follows:
“Speech hath been measured out in four divisions, the Brahmans who have understanding know them.
Three kept in close concealment cause no motion; of speech, men speak only the fourth division.”
Tamil, or Speech and the Unfolding Sound of the Self
Tamil, or Speech as the Unfolding Sound of the Self – or the Unfolding of the Self, as Sound – and Sounding Well
The earliest extant Tamil literary works and their commentaries celebrate the Pandiyan Kings for the organization of long-termed Tamil Sangams, which researched, developed, and made amendments in Tamil language. Even though the name of the language which was developed by these Tamil Sangams is mentioned as Tamil, the period when the name “Tamil” came to be applied to the language is unclear, as is the precise etymology of the name. The earliest attested use of the name is found in Tholkappiyam, which is dated as early as 1st century BC. Southworth suggests that the name comes from tam-miḻ > tam-iḻ ‘self-speak’, or ‘one’s own speech’. (see Southworth’s derivation of Sanskrit term for “others” or Mleccha) Kamil Zvelebil suggests an etymology of tam-iḻ, with tam meaning “self” or “one’s self”, and “-iḻ” having the connotation of “unfolding sound”. Alternatively, he suggests a derivation of tamiḻ < tam-iḻ < *tav-iḻ < *tak-iḻ, meaning in origin “the proper process (of speaking)”.
The Tamil Lexicon of University of Madras defines the word ‘Tamil’ as ‘sweetness’. S.V Subramanian suggests the meaning ‘sweet sound’ from ‘tam’- sweet and ‘il’- ‘sound’.
Guaraní - The Soul, The Spirit, The Sacred Word
Oral Expression Among the Guaraní
The transmission of Guaraní culture is essentially oral. Their religious rites, their explanations of the supernatural, their customs and laws, and their history and knowledge are passed on my wise men to apprentices and from one generation to the next by word of mouth.
For the Guaraní the word is more than a means for human communication. It is a conduit to the divine. The word is the soul and to lose it is to die. The Guaraní tell stories, relate their myths and sing the messages shown to them in dreams by the gods – stories of gods, heroes and villains. Myths about the creation of a world built up slowly and carefully through the sheer power of words.
When the earth did not exist, amidst the ancient darkness, when nothing was known, He made the fundamental word open like a flower and, with Him, it divinely became heaven; this Ñamandú did this, the true father, the first one.
La Expresión Oral del Pueblo Guaraní
La transmisión cultural guaraní es eminentemente oral. Los ritos religiosos, las explicaciones de lo sobrenatural, las costumbres, las leyes: toda su historia y su conocimiento se transmiten de sabios a aprendices, de boca en boca y de generación en generación.
La palabra guaraní es más que un medio de comunicación humana. Es un canal hacia la divinidad. La palabra es el alma, y perdería es morir. Así, los guaraníes cuentan historias, narran sus mitos, cantan los mensajes que los dioses les transmiten en el sueño. Historias de dioses, héroes y vilanos. Mitos sobre la creación de un mundo construido de a poco, con el puro poder de las palabras.
Cuando no existía la tierra, en medio de la oscuridad antigua, cuando nada se conocía, hizo que se abriera como la flor la palabra fundamental, que con él se tornara divinamente cielo; esto hizo Ñamandú, el padre verdadero, el primero.
(En León Cadogan, Ayvu Rapyta, textos míticos de los Mbya Guaraní del Guayrá)
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe used the concept of Weltliteratur in several of his essays in the early decades of the nineteenth century to describe the international circulation and reception of literary works in Europe, including works of non-Western origin. The concept achieved wide currency after his disciple Johann Peter Eckermann published a collection of conversations with Goethe in 1835.
Goethe spoke with Eckermann about the excitement of reading Chinese novels and Persian and Serbian poetry as well as of his fascination with seeing how his own works were translated and discussed abroad, especially in France. In a famous statement in January 1827, Goethe predicted to Eckermann that in the coming years world literature would supplant the national literatures as the major mode of literary creativity:
I am more and more convinced that poetry is the universal possession of mankind, revealing itself everywhere and at all times in hundreds and hundreds of men. … I therefore like to look about me in foreign nations, and advise everyone to do the same. National literature is now a rather unmeaning term; the epoch of world literature is at hand, and everyone must strive to hasten its approach.
Reflecting a fundamentally economic understanding of world literature as a process of trade and exchange, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels used the term in their Communist Manifesto (1848) to describe the “cosmopolitan character” of bourgeois literary production, asserting that:
In place of the old wants, satisfied by the productions of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climates. … And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.
Martin Puchner has argued that Goethe had a keen sense of world literature as driven by a new world market in literature. It was this market-based approach that Marx and Engels pick up in 1848. But while the two authors admire the world literature created by bourgeois capitalism, they also seek to exceed it. They hoped to create a new type of world literature, one exemplified by the Manifesto, which was to be published simultaneously in many languages and several locations. This text was supposed to inaugurate a new type of world literature and in fact partially succeeded, becoming one of the most influential texts of the twentieth century.
Whereas Marx and Engels followed Goethe in seeing world literature as a modern or even future phenomenon, in 1886 the Irish scholar H. M. Posnett argued that world literature first arose in ancient empires such as the Roman Empire, long before the rise of the modern national literatures. Certainly today, world literature is understood as including classical works from all periods, as well as contemporary literature written for a global audience. By the turn of the twentieth century, intellectuals in various parts of the globe were thinking actively about world literature as a frame for their own national production, a theme found in essays by several of the progressive writers of China’s May Fourth movement, including Lu Xun.
(Wikipedia, “World Literature”).
Inspiration - Blue Sky Thinking
Work in progress … still under construction … but coming soon!