Friday, November 30

"What we often forget is that thought is to be used to correct life. It's not a way of life. If you make thought the center of your life, you're not going to live it. So, what you have to do is be this kind of hysterical, emotional, vibrant creature who lives at the top of his lungs for a lifetime and then corrects around the edges so that he doesn't go insane or drive his friends mad. Thought is the skin around the organ. The organ is full of blood and a beating heart, a soul and the exaltation of being alive!"
 - Ray Bradbury

Thursday, November 29

"Look at everyone around you and see what we have done about ourselves and what is considered our daily victory. We have not loved above all things. We have not accepted what is not understood because we do not want to be fools. We have accumulated things and assurances for not having each other. We have no joy that has not been cataloged. We have built cathedrals and we have stayed on the outside, because the cathedrals that we ourselves build fear that they are traps. We have not given ourselves, because that would be the beginning of a long life and we fear it. We have avoided falling on our knees in front of the first of us who out of love says: you are afraid. We have organized associations and smiling clubs where it is served with or without soda. We have tried to save ourselves, but without using the word salvation so as not to be ashamed of being innocent. We have not used the word love to avoid having to recognize its context of hatred, love, jealousy and so many other opposites. We have kept our death a secret to make our life possible. Many of us make art because we do not know what the other thing is like. We have disguised our indifference with false love, knowing that our indifference is anguish in disguise. We have disguised the great fear with the little fear and that's why we never talk about what really matters. Talking about what really matters is considered an indiscretion. We have not adored for having the sensible stinginess of remembering the false gods in time. We have not been pure and naive not to laugh at ourselves and so that at the end of the day we can say "at least I was not stupid" and so we were not perplexed before turning off the light. We have smiled in public about what we would not smile when we were left alone. We have called weakness to our candor. We have feared each other, above all. And all this we consider our victory every day."
 - Clarice Lispector
An Apprenticeship, Or, The Book of Delights

Wednesday, November 28

In the dark we disappear, pure being.
Our mirror images, impure being.

Being and becoming (Heidegger), being and
nothingness (Sartre) - which is purer being?

Being alone is no way to be: thus
loneliness is the test of pure being.

Nights in love I fell too far or not quite
far enough - one pure, one impure being.

Clouds, snow, mist, the dragon's breath on water,
smoke from fire - a metaphor's pure being.

Stillness and more stillness and the light locked
deep inside - both pure and impure being.

Is is the verb of being, I the noun -
or pronoun for the purists of being.

I was, I am, I looked within and saw
nothing very clearly: purest being.
 - Stanley Plumly

Tuesday, November 27

Half life
We walk through half our life
as if it were a fever dream

barely touching the ground

our eyes half open
our heart half closed.

Not half knowing who we are
we watch the ghost of us drift
from room to room
through friends and lovers
never quite as real as advertised.

Not saying half we mean
or meaning half we say
we dream ourselves
from birth to birth
seeking some true self.

Until the fever breaks
and the heart can not abide
a moment longer
as the rest of us awakens,
summoned from the dream,
not half caring for anything but love.
 - Stephen Levine
Breaking the Drought

Sunday, November 25

Ode to the Present
This present moment, smooth as a wooden slab, this immaculate hour, this day pure as a new cup from the past - no spider web exists - with our fingers, we caress the present; we cut it according to our magnitude; we guide the unfolding of its blossoms. It is living, alive -  it contains nothing from the unrepairable past, from the lost past, it is our infant, growing at this very moment, adorned with sand, eating from our hands. Grab it. Don't let it slip away. Don't lose it in dreams or words. Clutch it. Tie it, and order it to obey you. Make it a road, a bell, a machine, a kiss, a book, a caress. Take a saw to its delicious wooden perfume. And make a chair; braid its back; test it. Or then, build a staircase!

Yes, a staircase. Climb into the present, step by step, press your feet onto the resinous wood of this moment, going up, going up, not very high, just so you repair the leaky roof.
Don't go all the way to heaven. Reach for apples, not the clouds. Let them fluff through the sky, skimming passage, into the past.

You are your present, your own apple. Pick it from your tree. Raise it in your hand. It's gleaming, rich with stars. Claim it. Take a luxurious bite out of the present, and whistle along the road of your destiny.
 - Pablo Neruda

Saturday, November 24

"Our job is to record, each in his own way, this world of light and shadow and time that will never come again exactly as it is today."
 - Edward Abbey

Friday, November 23

"You wake from dreams of doom and - for a moment - you know: beyond all the noise and the gestures, the only real thing, love's calm unwavering flame in the half-light of an early dawn."
 - Dag Hammarskjöld

Thursday, November 22

"From now on you need never await temporal attestation to your thought. You think the truth. You do not have the right to eliminate yourself. You do not belong to you. You belong to the Universe. Your significance will remain forever obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your role if you apply yourself to converting your experiences to the highest advantage of others."
 - R. Buckminster Fuller
[Describing an incident where he felt suspended several feet above the ground enclosed in a white sphere of light, when a voice spoke to him. This was what it said.]

Wednesday, November 21

For the traveler today
Among the Zen parables, one koan is called "Just Drinking Tea". Tea represents Zen spirit: he who tastes it tastes Zen.

Hot plum tea is offered to a visitor arriving from afar. Honey and sugar are dissolved in hot water and a pickled plum with the seed removed is proffered between the points of chopsticks. The visitor first steeps the plum briefly in the honey water. He then removes and eats it before drinking the tea. The sourness of the plum and the sweetness of the tea relieve the fatigue of the journey.

For the cook today
The three spirits of zen cooking -
First, the heart of pleasure.
Second, the heart of kindness.
Third, it's a big deep heart.
Pay attention to everything.

These are Dogen's three spirits of zen cooking. The happy spirit feels joy and gratitude at the privilege of being assigned the worthy task of cooking, an opportunity to follow the true way. The venerable spirit calls upon a kind heart in the pursuit of food that will please the diner. The great spirit does not flinch from the smallest detail and offers unwavering help in the unshakable quest for improvement.

For all of us today
"Taste as much of this as you can. Swallow what you need and spit out the rest."
 - Taizan Maezumi

Tuesday, November 20

"We now know enough to know that we will never know everything. This is why we need art: it teaches us how to live with mystery. Only the artist can explore the ineffable without offering us an answer, for sometimes there is no answer."
 - Jonah Lehrer

Monday, November 19

Metonymy as an Approach to a Real World
Whether what we sense of this world
is the what of this world only, or the what
of which of several possible worlds
 - which what? - something of what we sense
may be true, may be the world, what it is, what we sense.
For the rest, a truce is possible, the tolerance
of travelers, eating foreign foods, trying words
that twist the tongue, to feel that time and place,
not thinking that this is the real world.

Conceded, that all the clocks tell local time;
conceded, that "here" is anywhere we bound
and fill a space; conceded, we make a world:
is something caught there, contained there,
something real, something which we can sense?
Once in a city blocked and filled, I saw
the light lie in the deep chasm of a street,
palpable and blue, as though it had drifted in
from say, the sea, a purity of space.
 - William Bronk

Sunday, November 18

"I am one of the searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know - unless it be to share our laughter.
We searchers are ambitious only for life itself, for everything beautiful it can provide. Most of all we love and want to be loved. We want to live in a relationship that will not impede our wandering, nor prevent our search, nor lock us in prison walls; that will take us for what little we have to give. We do not want to prove ourselves to another or compete for love.
For wanderers, dreamers, and lovers, for lonely men and women who dare to ask of life everything good and beautiful. It is for those who are too gentle to live among wolves."
 - James Kavanaugh

Friday, November 16

"If we knew we were on the right road, having to leave it would mean endless despair. But we are on a road that only leads to a second one, and then to a third one and so forth. And the real highway will not be sighted for a long, long time, perhaps never. So we drift in doubt. But also in an unbelievable, beautiful diversity. Thus the accomplishment of hope remains an always unexpected miracle. But in compensation, the miracle remains forever possible."
 - Franz Kafka

Wednesday, November 14

The forest is the only place
where green is green and blue is blue.
Walking the forest I have seen
most everything. I've seen a you
with yellow eyes and busted wing.
And deep in the forest, no one knew.
 - Wendy Videlock

North of Mist
Just north of mist,
along the border,
  half a color
from the water,
under the kiss
of shadow's daughter,
  (two breaths backward,
one word upward),
past the rumpled
terra cotta,
  down the salve
of templed sorrow,
up the scales
of Bach, and Buddha,
     down the moon
of broken solder,
through the eyes
of someone's father,
    in the grass
beside the water;
one part liar,
one part seer,
    one part lyric,
one part scholar,
this is the walk
we come to wander,
    one part illness,
one part healer.
 - Wendy Videlock

Monday, November 12

"You should go home to your hermitage; it is inside you. Close the doors, light the fire, and make it cozy again. That is what I call 'taking refuge in the island of self.' If you don't go home to yourself, you continue to lose yourself. You destroy yourself and you destroy people around you, even if you have goodwill and want to do something to help. That is why the practice of going home to the island of self is so important. No one can take your true home away."
 - Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, November 11

"At the age of twenty-nine Gautama slipped away from his palace in the middle of the night, leaving behind his family and possessions. He traveled as a homeless vagabond throughout northern India, searching for a way out of suffering. He visited ashrams and sat at the feet of gurus but nothing liberated him entirely - some dissatisfaction always remained. He did not despair. He resolved to investigate suffering on his own until he found a method for complete liberation. He spent six years meditating on the essence, causes and cures for human anguish. In the end he came to the realization that suffering is not caused by ill fortune, by social injustice, or by divine whims. Rather, suffering is caused by the behavior patterns of one's own mind. Gautama's insight was that no matter what the mind experiences, it usually reacts with craving, and craving always involves dissatisfaction. When the mind experiences something distasteful it craves to be rid of the irritation. When the mind experiences something pleasant, it craves that the pleasure will remain and will intensify. Therefore, the mind is always dissatisfied and restless. This is very clear when we experience unpleasant things, such as pain. As long as the pain continues, we are dissatisfied and do all we can to avoid it. Yet even when we experience pleasant things we are never content. We either fear that the pleasure might disappear, or we hope that it will intensify. People dream for years about finding love but are rarely satisfied when they find it. Some become anxious that their partner will leave; others feel that they have settled cheaply, and could have found someone better. And we all know people who manage to do both."
 - Yuval Noah Harari

Saturday, November 10

It's a gift, this cloudless November morning
warm enough to walk without a jacket
along your favorite path. The rhythmic shushing
of your feet through fallen leaves should be
enough to quiet the mind, so it surprises you
when you catch yourself telling off your boss
for a decade of accumulated injustices,
all the things you've never said circling inside you.

The rising wind pulls you out of it,
and you look up to see a cloud of leaves
wheeling in sunlight, flickering against the blue
and lifting above the treetops, as if the whole day
were sighing, Let it go, let it go,
for this moment at least, let it all go.
 - Jeffrey Harrison

Friday, November 9

It's All Right
Someone you trusted has treated you bad.
Someone has used you to vent their ill temper.
Did you expect anything different?
Your work - better than some others' - has languished,
neglected. Or a job you tried was too hard,
and you failed. Maybe weather or bad luck
spoiled what you did. That grudge, held against you
for years after you patched up, has flared,
and you've lost a friend for a time. Things
at home aren't so good; on the job your spirits
have sunk. But just when the worst bears down
you find a pretty bubble in your soup at noon,
and outside at work a bird says, "Hi!"
Slowly the sun creeps along the floor;
it is coming your way. It touches your shoe.
 - William Stafford

Thursday, November 8

"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places - and there are so many - where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."
 - Howard Zinn
A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
other notebooks are available
antifaschistische aktion 90210

Wednesday, November 7

"The important thing is allowing the whole world to wake up. Part of allowing the whole world to wake up is recognizing that the whole world is free - everybody is free to be as they are. Until the whole world is free to agree with you or disagree with you, until you have given the freedom to everyone to like you or not like you, to love you or hate you, to see things as you see them or to see things differently - until you have given the whole world its freedom - you'll never have your freedom."
 - Adyashanti
The End of Your World

Monday, November 5

"What a joyful sense of freedom we have when Vitruvius announces the old opinion of artists that no architect can build any house well who does not know something of anatomy. When Socrates, in Charmides, tells us that the soul is cured of its maladies by certain incantations, and that these incantations are beautiful reasons, from which temperance is generated in souls; when Plato calls the world an animal, and Timaeus affirms that the plants also are animals; or affirms a man to be a heavenly tree, growing with his root, which is his head, upward;(...)"
 - Ralph Waldo Emerson
the vale of soul-making

Sunday, November 4

The pond is feathered, grey-backed, moving north.
Nothing can hold it.
The fat little saint in the garden prays only
for a paint-job.
Flickers and downies contend at the feeder.
Is this a world in good order?

A red-winged blackbird grates on the world's nerves -
another of the saints of repetition.
This is not a day
to ask after the gardener.

If Earth is perfected,
it is in its cycles, its seasons, its relentless
as Time is perfected in the saint's plaster leprosy,
the scabbed mud of the shoreline,
the pile of lobbed limbs
in the hollow.

As for the geese, they've turned to alchemy,
depositing green tubes underfoot, vials
the winds will powder and carry
down to the water.

Drink, and be whole again.

As light sinks, the waters,
resistant to the world's thirst, stiffen
beneath a glinting shield.
Still, the deer bend to whatever is on offer.
The saints, too, are making do
with gold.
Hard on a throat, gold.
Who would dare to ask after
the gardener?

The pond is flying north against
all natural law,
dragging the dead,
and whatever is un-rooted, uprooted,
See how the waters have broken
into scales, red in the last light, silver
where the moon

touches, troughs, touches.

With sunrise and the washing
of heaven's flesh in risen mist, ask:
Is this a world in good order?

Ask again. Tomorrow
is the only answer, every sacred
dying cell of it.
 - Marjorie Stelmach

Friday, November 2

"Sometimes it's okay. Sometimes it's not one desperate act after another. Sometimes we hear the music that is always there. As the old Irish homily goes: "The most beautiful music is the music of what happens." It is not necessary to run to a remote, quiet place to hear it. It is here already, always. The essence of eternity is how we experience the present. The witnesses are here in ourselves. The fullness of our inheritance denies nothing."
 - Terrance Keenan

Thursday, November 1

The slow overture of rain,
each drop breaking
without breaking into
the next, describes
the unrelenting, syncopated
mind. Not unlike
the hummingbirds
imagining their wings
to be their heart, and swallows
believing the horizon
to be a line they lift
and drop. What is it
they cast for? The poplars,
advancing or retreating,
lose their stature
equally, and yet stand firm,
making arrangements
in order to become
imaginary. The city
draws the mind in streets,
and streets compel it
from their intersections
where a little
belongs to no one. It is
what is driven through
all stationary portions
of the world, gravity's
stake in things. The leaves,
pressed against the dank
window of November
soil, remain unwelcome
till transformed, parts
of a puzzle unsolvable
till the edges give a bit
and soften. See how
then the picture becomes clear,
the mind entering the ground
more easily in pieces,
and all the richer for it.
 - Jorie Graham

  • ". . . as I have said often enough, I write for myself in multiplicate,
    a not unfamiliar phenomenon on the horizon of shimmering deserts."
    - Vladimir Nabokov