Tuesday, January 31

"Color and sound are not only the language in which one communicates with the life without, but also the language in which one communicates with the life within. One might ask how it is done. We can see the answer in certain scientific experiments. Special plates are made, and by speaking near such a plate marks are made upon the plate with sound and vibrations. Those marks make either harmonious or inharmonious forms. If that is true, then every person, from morning till evening, is making invisible forms in space by what he says. He is creating invisible vibrations around him, and so he is producing an atmosphere. Therefore it is that one person may come into the house, and before he speaks you are tired of him, you wish to get rid of him. Before he has said or done anything you are finished with him, you would like him to go away, for in his atmosphere he is creating a sound; a sound is going on which is disagreeable. There is another person with whom you feel sympathy, to whom you feel drawn, whose friendship you value, whose presence you long for; harmony is continually created through him. That is sound too.

If that is true then it is not only the external signs, but also the inner condition which is audible and visible. Though not visible to the eyes and not audible to the ears, yet it is audible and visible in the soul. We say: "I feel his vibrations. I feel the person's presence. I feel sympathy, or antipathy towards that person." There is a feeling, and a person creates a feeling without having said anything or done anything. Therefore a person who is in a wrong vibration, without doing or saying anything wrong, creates the wrong atmosphere, and you find fault with him. It is most amusing and very funny to see how people may come to you with a complaint: "I have said nothing, I have done nothing, and yet people dislike me and are against me." That person does not know that it is not because of his saying or doing anything: it is because of his being. "What you are speaks louder than what you say." It is life itself which has its tone, its color, its vibration. it speaks aloud."
 - Hazrat Inayat Khan
Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound and Music
7. The Spiritual Significance of Color and Sound

Monday, January 30

This is the song of the cold when people
are themselves but less so, people
who haven't listened to my unworded advice.
I was once described as "immortal"
but this didn't include my mother who recently died.
And why go to New York after the asteroid
and the floods of polar waters, the crumbling
buildings, when you're the only one there
in 2050? Come back to earth.
Blow your nose and dwell on the shortness of life.
Lift up your dark heart and sing a song about
how time drifts past you like the gentlest, almost
imperceptible breeze.
 - Jim Harrison
from Cold Poem

Sunday, January 29

"We're all carnies, though some people are in denial. They want to be above it all, above the mayhem of laughter and people and lights and animals and the dark sadness that lurks in the corners and beneath the rides and in the trailers after hours. So they ride the Ferris wheel, and at the top, they think they've left it all behind. They've ascended to a place where they can take things seriously. Where they can be taken seriously."
 - N. D. Wilson
Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl

Friday, January 27

"First of all you must use your ears to take some of the burden from your eyes. We have been using our eyes to judge the world since the time we were born. We talk to others and to ourselves mainly about what we see. A warrior is aware of that and listens to the world; he listens to the sounds of the world. He is aware that the world will change as soon as he stops talking to himself and he must be prepared for that monumental jolt. The world is such-and-such or so-and-so only because we tell ourselves that that is the way it is. If we stop telling ourselves that the world is so-and-so, the world will stop being so-and-so. You must start slowly to undo the world."
 - Don Juan Matus
A Separate Reality
modern shxmxn
children of the tao

Thursday, January 26

Many red devils ran from my heart
And out upon the page,
They were so tiny
The pen could mash them.
And many struggled in the ink.
It was strange
To write in this red muck
Of things from my heart.
 - Stephen Crane
The Black Riders and Other Lines

Wednesday, January 25

"I have always loved Buddhist paintings in the esoteric tradition that show the sufferings of the hell realms, they are rather like medieval Christian paintings, with flames and pitchforks and horns and so on. But there is always a little Buddha sitting in the hell realm, looking exactly like all the other demons, with horns and a big smile . . . So if you are in hell, perhaps you can be one of those demons, a Buddha demon."
 - John Tarrant
That Great Sleeping Dragon of Joy
a teisho, 1994


Tuesday, January 24

"Don't fight your demons. Your demons are here to teach you lessons. Sit down with your demons and have a drink and a chat and learn their names and talk about the burns on their fingers and scratches on their ankles. Some of them are very nice."
 - Charles Bukowski

Monday, January 23

"We can understand making offerings to demons as "appreciate your lunacy." Bow to your own weakness, your own craziness, your own resistance. Congratulate yourself for them, appreciate them. Truly it is a marvel, the extent to which we are selfish, confused, lazy, resentful, and so on. We come by these things honestly. We have been well trained to manifest them at every turn. This is the prodigy of human life bursting forth at its seams, it is the effect of our upbringing, our society, which we appreciate even as we are trying to tame it and bring it gently round to the good. So we make offerings to the demons inside us, we develop a sense of humorous appreciation for our own stupidity. We are in good company! We can laugh at ourselves and everyone else."
 - Norman Fischer
Training in Compassion
wait - what?

Thursday, January 19

Gautama said that when the Great Ferris Wheel
stops turning, you will still be way up
there, swinging in your seat and laughing.
 - Robert Bly

Hiding in a Drop of Water
It is early morning, and death has forgotten us for
A while. Darkness owns the house, but I am alive.
I am ready to praise all the great musicians.

Whatever happens to me will also happen to you.
Surely you must have realized this from hearing
The way the strings cry out no matter who hits them.

From the great oak trees in the yard in October,
Leaves fall for hours each day. Every night
A thousand wrinkled faces look up at the stars.

Still we know that at any second the soul can stand
Up and start across the desert, as when Rabia ended up
Riding on a resurrected donkey toward the Meeting.

It is this reaching toward the Kaaba that keeps us glad.
It is this way of hiding inside a drop of water
That lets the hidden face become visible to everyone.

Gautama said that when the Great Ferris Wheel
Stops turning, you will still be way up
There, swinging in your seat and laughing.
 - Robert Bly
My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy

Wednesday, January 18

This world
A fading
Mountain echo
Void and

A light snow
Three Thousand Realms
Within those realms
Light snow falls

As the snow
Engulfs my hut
At dusk
My heart, too
Is completely consumed
 - Ryokan
translated by John Stevens

Tuesday, January 17

"You can walk. This is a gift. You can breathe and you can think and you can navigate a long room and sit with an old woman and ask questions about what life and art really mean. This is what they really mean: They are happening right now. They are happening to you and those in this world right now. And life and the arts and the people to whom they are happening are gifts to you, family for you. Embrace them. Listen to them. Navigate the long room to get to them and ask questions and listen and argue and create.

There is so much beauty to see and to feel. Right now."
 - Agnes de Mille
wait - what?

Monday, January 16

"To hope is to gamble. It's to bet on the future, on your desires, on the possibility that an open heart and uncertainty are better than gloom and safety. To hope is dangerous, and yet it is the opposite of fear, for to live is to risk. I say all this to you because hope is not like a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. I say this because hope is an ax you break down doors with in an emergency; because hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from annihilation of the earth's treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal. Hope just means another world might be possible, not promised, not guaranteed. Hope calls for action; action is impossible without hope."
 - Rebecca Solnit
Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities
beyond the fields we know

Sunday, January 15

Looking for a refuge
Cold Mountain will keep you safe
a faint wind stirs dark pines
come closer the sound gets better
below them sits a gray-haired man
chanting Taoist texts
ten years unable to return
he forgot the way he came
 - Cold Mountain
translated by Red Pine

Thursday, January 12

I can't find
my thoughts anywhere
this morning. They've
left me
alone, no one
to be. I
act like nothing's
happened, so they don't
suspect anything
when I
stretch my usual walk
out through
grasses. And they're so
preoccupied, they
don't notice
when I wander
past wafers of seabed
rock angled
up and broken
away into sky, then
sit sun-
warmed facing a familiar
mountain, mirroring
it perfectly. Good
deal. They'll never
find me here.
 - David Hinton

Wednesday, January 11

"I sat at the foot of a huge tree, a statue of the night, and tried to make an inventory of all I had seen, heard, smelled, and felt: dizziness, horror, stupor, astonishment, joy, enthusiasm, nausea, inescapable attraction. What had attracted me? It was difficult to say: Human kind cannot bear much reality. Yes, the excess of reality had become an unreality, but that unreality had turned suddenly into a balcony from which I peered into - what? Into that which is beyond and still has no name."
 - Octavio Paz
In Light of India

Tuesday, January 10

"Once I knew, then I forgot. It was as if I had fallen asleep in a field only to discover at waking that a grove of trees had grown up around me.
"Doubt nothing, believe everything," was my friend's idea of metaphysics, although his brother ran away with his wife. He still bought her a rose every day, sat in the empty house for the next twenty years talking to her about the weather.
I was already dozing off in the shade, dreaming that the rustling trees were my many selves explaining themselves all at the same time so that I could not make out a single word. My life was a beautiful mystery on the verge of understanding, always on the verge! Think of it!
My friend's empty house with every one of its windows lit. The dark trees multiplying all around it."
 - Charles Simic
The World Doesn't End

Monday, January 9

"Always a little more fun on the Devil's side. I've been his advocate, have opposed what I most believed, testing if what I believed was true. It sometimes almost was; that's the best I can say. But you can bedevil yourself if you keep playing that game. You don't want to stand in a torturer's shoes for long. Still, when it comes to seeking a truth, a certain cruelty can go a long way - right through the heart of a thing to some other side. Doesn't every far-reaching truth cause a lesser truth to die? Most of us are content to stop at the heart. When I've been good's advocate, playing the less clever role, I've gone as far as good can go. Maybe some orthodoxy or some abomination lost ground for a while. Maybe not. The one time I had the Devil down, thinking he'd give, he whispered, "Remember, the punishment for being good is a life of goodness." I laughed, and he was gone."
 - Stephen Dunn
Riffs & Reciprocities

Sunday, January 8

My Zen hut rests upon rocks at the summit
clouds fly past and more clouds arrive
a waterfall hangs in space beyond the door
a mountain ridge rises like a wave in back
I drew three buddhas on a wall
I put a plum branch in a jar for incense
the fields down below might be level
but can't match a mountain's freedom from dust
 - Stonehouse
translated by Red Pine

Saturday, January 7

I follow my impulsive feet
Wherever they might go
My body is a pine tree
Surrounded by the snow
Sometimes I simply stand
Beside a flowing stream
Sometimes I chase a drifting
Cloud past another peak
 - Han-shan Te-Ch'ing
daily zen

Thursday, January 5

Political Poem
This is a political poem.
Shortly I will allude
to some political things.
Not yet, though.
First: a one-winged bat
is dead on my sidewalk.
Then: the lake is crispy today.
Also: the man in the wizard gown
drove by in a Honda.
Now for the political part.
Right after I get some Triscuits.
I like them with soy cheese
and avocado. Everything
is political. "Even that piece
of chewed gum on the ground
with pebbles stuck in it?" Yes,
even that piece of chewed gum.
"So when you were saying
you were going to allude to
something political, that
was a trick, you were already
doing it." Eat the rich.
 - Stuart Ross

Wednesday, January 4

"We have a new type of rule now. Not one-man rule, or rule of aristocracy or plutocracy, but of small groups elevated to positions of absolute power by random pressures, and subject to political and economic factors that leave little room for decision. They are representatives of abstract forces who have reached power through surrender of self. The iron-willed dictator is a thing of the past. There will be no more Stalins, no more Hitlers. The rulers of this most insecure of all worlds are rulers by accident, inept, frightened pilots at the controls of a vast machine they cannot understand, calling in experts to tell them which buttons to push."
 - William S. Burroughs

Tuesday, January 3

"Some of us like to get together once a day, rain or shine, and gather furtively at the picnic grounds under those tall wavering candleflame pines, where neither moth nor rust can reach, nor faintest scream, and exchange ribald tales verging on satanic perversion, each drawing his iridescent injection from the same oceanic martini, very dry, about two tears' worth of vermouth, in an unremembered dream."
 - Franz Wright
poetry international

Monday, January 2

There's the thing I shouldn't do
and yet, and now I have
the rest of the day to
make up for, not
undo, that can't be done
but next time,
think more calmly,
breathe, say here's a new
morning, morning,

(though why would that
work, it isn't even
hidden, hear it in there,
more, more,
 - Lia Purpura
the academy of american poets

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