words

                         Art is the mystery of Spirit

Art is the mystery of Spirit. There’s another mystery, the mystery of consciousness … My son claims he hears real and subtle ‘voices’ of sculptures and paintings he makes in himself and translates them into words and into eloquent paint. Such translations are real and unreal, and they exact punishments. The artist loses his name, he becomes a god, a vulnerable god. Namelessness is founded on multiple names. Multiplicity is Spirit.

wilson harris, mask of the beggar

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The atoms of my flesh constellate like planetary systems, electrons swerve around a nucleus like planets around a sun. There is an earth in every molecule of my flesh. My body is a universe, how many souls dwell within me? How many lives live with me, unaware of the whole, the one body? Do they suffer within me? Are new lives born within me? There is a sun in my fingertip. Light years away, there is another sun in my eye. Light years away, there is another sun at the tip of my root. Do they know that they all live in one body? Or do they all live in a belief of isolation and separation? This body, this universe that is I exists in yet a wider universe. Do I too dwell on/in an electron? Am I too one soul living in the fingertip, the eyes, the root of another living body? All suffering, hate, all compassion and virtue, is it really the inner conflicts that Self that we are a part, that Self in whom we inhabit, in the same way we battle within ourselves in right and wrong, love and hate? My self is inhabited by many other selves. These selves have, all, written within them, the essence of my self. Also then, do I have written within myself, the essence of that Self in whom I inhabit? And, even further, the essence of that other Self/universe that that Self possibly inhabits? What then limits my understanding of my self? Even the possibility, meditated upon, clears the mind of unnecessary clutters, of limitations of potential, of limitations of conventions, of illusions. There is more to myself than has yet been perceived by religious authority, scientific authority, philosophical authority, or even by my own Imagination. how then can i perceive beyond my self? perhaps, the answer is in silence, the relinquishing of all previous notions of truth. And beginning a new meditation whose essence is silence.

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suns moons and nocturnal suns dance in the twilight sky, their energy consciously restrained that humanity may live. their souls emanate a deep scarlet glow. a daughter of the dusk spirits across the open plains of the Earth, alert and yet in profound meditation of silence and truth.

the twilight offers revelation to those who are silent enough to listen, whose inner conversation of the mind cease, whose inner images of the Imagination [end]. daylight meets night. darkness envelops light. Light relinquishes authority just as Darkness will relinquish authority at the moment of Dawn. there is no evil here, no parallel of symbolic forces, only truth, only a perpetual dance between the Thought and Voice of one Mind, the Inhale and Exhale of one Breath, the expansion and contraction of one Heart. for those who relinquish their inner conversations to Silence; for those who surrender their inner images to Void; may they listen; may they be. free from hand-crafted illsuions.

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you are gods

Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them ‘I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ study of hand 2

‘We are not stoning you for any of these,’ replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’

Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your Law [he calls it their Law],”I have said you are gods’? [psalm 82.6]  If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came—and the scripture cannot be broken—what about the one the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world. Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, “I am God’s Son”?

john 10. 31-36, bible 

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let the caller and the called disappear

remember YAH so much that you are fortgotten. let the caller and the called disappear; be lost in the call

rumi

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real love gives freedom

real love gives freedom to the loved one because it concerns itself first of all with the well-being of someone else and never with how that ‘someone else’ is making the lover feel. we show love, true love, when we concern ourselves first and always with the way the other person feels – not with how that other person is making us feel. real love frees the loved one but it also frees the lover. if i love, if you love, we are free. we are free because our reactions to a set of circumstances are never, never dependent on the circumstances themselves. we are not free if our state of mind is determined by what someone else does to us or leaves undone.detail of virgin mother

eugenia price, make love your aim

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the true fast

is not this the kind of fasting i have chosen:

to loose the chains of injustice

and untie the cords of the yoke

to set the oppressed free

and break every yoke?

is it not to share your food with the hungry

and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter

when you see the naked to clothe him

and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

book of isaiah, bible

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untitled (2)

what am i doing here? in my hands, there is more power than they will allow me to believe. i can feel it. in the curve of my fingers, in the time-beaten, work-worn callouses of my palms. i am a sculptor. within me is the power to share my own dreams. my mind was a prisoner of glass and concrete, skyscrapers, schools and churches. i have turned my back on them all, in search of a new silence with which i will sculpt a new dream, a new reality.

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‘If [the actor] does not exhibit his body but annihilates it, burns it, frees it from every resistance to any psychic impulse, then he does not sell his body but sacrifices it.’

grotowski

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meditation . stillness. present moment . nonduality

To find out if there is something really true and sacred – I am using that word rather hesitantly – we must look for something not put together by desire and hope, by fear and longing; not dependent on environment, culture and education, but something that thought has never touched, something that is totally and incomprehensibly new. Perhaps this morning we can spend some time in enquiring into this, trying to find out whether there is a vastness, an ecstasy, a life that is unquenchable; without finding that, however virtuous, however orderly, however non-violent one is, life in itself has very little meaning. Religion – in the sense in which we are using that word, where there is no kind of fear or belief – is the quality that makes for a life in which there is no fragmentation whatsoever. If we are going to enquire into that, we must not only be free of all belief, but also we must be very clear about the distorting factor of all effort, direction and purpose. Do see the importance of this; if you are at all serious in this matter it is very important to understand how any form of effort distorts direct perception. And any form of suppression obviously also distorts, as does any form of direction born of choice, of established purpose, created by one’s own desire; all these things make the mind utterly incapable of seeing things as they are.

When we are enquiring into this question of what truth is, whether there is such a thing as enlightenment, if there is something that is not of time at all, a reality that is not dependent on one’s own demand, there must be freedom, and a certain quality of order. We generally associate order with discipline, discipline being conformity, imitation, adjustment, suppression and so on; forcing the mind to follow a certain course, a pattern that it considers to be moral. But order has nothing whatsoever to do with such discipline; order comes about naturally and inevitably when we understand all the disturbing factors, the disorders and conflicts going on both within ourselves and outwardly. When we are aware of this disorder, look at all the mischief, the hate, the pursuit of comparison – when we understand it then there comes order; which has nothing whatsoever to do with discipline. You must have order; after all, order is virtue (you may not like that word). Virtue is not something to be cultivated; if it is a thing of thought, of will, the result of suppression, it is no longer virtue. But if you understand the disorder of your life, the confusion, the utter meaninglessness of our existence, when you see all that very clearly, not merely intellectually and verbally, but not condemning it, not running away from it, but observing it in life, then out of that awareness and observation comes order, naturally which is virtue. This virtue is entirely different from the virtue of society, with its respectability, the sanctions of the religions with their hypocrisy; it is entirely different from one’s own self-imposed discipline.

Order must exist if we are to find out if there is – or is not – a reality that is not of time, something incorruptible, not depending on anything. If you are really serious about this, in the sense that it is a part of life as important as earning one’s livelihood, as seeking pleasure, that it is something tremendously vital, then you will realize that it can only be found through meditation. The dictionary meaning of that word is to ponder over, to think over, to inquire; it means to have a mind that is capable of looking, that is intelligent, that is sane, not perverted or neurotic, not wishing for something from somewhere.

Is there any method, any system, any path which you can pursue and come to the understanding of what meditation, or the perception of reality, is? …

A dull mind, a mind that has been stupefied by `practising’, cannot under any circumstances whatsoever understand what reality is. One must be completely, totally, free of thought. One needs a mind that is not distorted, that is very clear, that is not blunted, that is no longer pursuing a direction, a purpose. You will ask: `Is it possible to have this state of mind in which there is no experiencing?’ To `experience’ implies an entity who is experiencing; therefore, there is duality: the experiencer and the thing experienced, the observer and the thing observed. Most of us want some kind of deep, marvellous and mystical experience; our own daily experiences are so trivial, so banal, so superficial, we want something electrifying. In that bizarre thought of a marvellous experience, there is this duality of the experiencer and the experience. As long as this duality exists there must be distortion; because the experiencer is the accumulated past with all his knowledge, his memories. Being dissatisfied with that, he wants something much greater, therefore he projects it as idea, and finds that projection; in that there is still duality and distortion.

Truth is not something to be experienced. Truth is not something that you can seek out and find. It is beyond time. And thought, which is of time, cannot possibly search it out and grasp it. So one must understand very deeply this question of wanting experience. Do please see this tremendously important thing. Any form of effort, of wanting, of seeking out truth, demanding experience, is the observer wanting something transcendental and making effort; therefore the mind is not clear, pristine, non-mechanical. A mind seeking an experience, however marvellous, implies that the ‘me’ is seeking it – the ‘me’ which is the past, with all its frustrations, miseries and hopes.

Observe for yourself how the brain operates. It is the storehouse of memory, of the past. This memory is responding all the time, as like and dislike, justifying, condemning and so on; it is responding according to its conditioning, according to the culture, religion, education, which it has stored. That storehouse of memory, from which thought arises, guides most of our life. It is directing and shaping our lives every minute of every day, consciously or unconsciously; it is generating thought, the `me’, which is the very essence of thought and words. Can that brain, with its content of the old, be completely quiet – only wakened when it is necessary to operate, to function, to speak, to act, but the rest of the time completely sterile? contemplation of self

Meditation is to find out whether the brain, with all its activities, all its experiences, can be absolutely quiet. Not forced, because the moment you force, there again is duality, the entity that says, `I would like to have marvellous experiences, therefore I must force my brain to be quiet’ – you will never do it. But if you begin to enquire, watch, observe, listen to all the movements of thought, its conditioning, its pursuits, its fears, its pleasures, watch how the brain operates, then you will see that the brain becomes extraordinarily quiet; that quietness is not sleep but is tremendously active and therefore quiet. A big dynamo that is working perfectly, hardly makes a sound; it is only when there is friction that there is noise.

One has to find out whether one’s body can sit or lie completely still, without any movement, not forced. Can the body and the brain be still? – for they are interrelated psychosomatically. There are various practices to make the body still, but again they imply suppression; the body wants to get up and walk, you insist that it must sit quietly, and the battle begins – wanting to go out and wanting to sit still…

…Probably yoga as a particular series of exercises and breathing was invented in India many thousands of years ago. Its intent is to keep the glands, the nerves and the whole system functioning healthily, without medicine, and highly sensitive. The body needs to be sensitive, otherwise you cannot have a clear brain. You can see the simple fact, that one needs to have a very healthy, sensitive, alert body, and a brain that functions very clearly, non-emotionally, not personally; such a brain can be absolutely quiet. Now, how is this to be brought about? How can the brain, which is so tremendously active – not only during the day-time, but when you go to sleep – be so completely relaxed and completely quiet? Obviously no method will do it, a method implies mechanical repetition, which stupefies and makes the brain dull; and in that dullness you think you have marvellous experiences!

How can the brain, which is always chattering to itself, or with others, always judging, evaluating, liking and disliking, turning over all the time – how can that brain be completely still? Do you, for yourself, see the extraordinary importance that the brain should be completely quiet? For the moment it acts it is response of the past, in terms of thought. It is only a brain that is completely still that can observe a cloud, a tree, a flowing river. You can see the extraordinary light on those mountains, yet the brain can be completely still you have noticed this, have you not? How has that happened? The mind, facing something of extraordinary magnitude, like very complex machinery, a marvellous computer, or a magnificent sunset, becomes completely quiet even if only for a split second. You have noticed when you give a child a toy, how the toy absorbs the child, the child is so concerned with it. In the same way, by their greatness, the mountains, the beauty of a tree, the flowing waters, absorb the mind and make it still. But in that case the brain is made still by something. Can the brain be quiet without an outside factor entering into it? Not ‘finding a way’. People hope for the Grace of God, they pray, have faith, become absorbed in Jesus, in this or in that. We see that this absorption by something outside occurs to a dull, a stupefied mind. The brain is active from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep; and even then the activity of the brain is still going on. That activity in the form of dreams is the same movement of the day carried on during sleep. The brain has never a moment’s rest, never does it say, ‘I have finished’. It has carried over the problems which it accumulated during the day into sleep; when you wake up those problems still go on – it is a vicious circle. A brain that is to be quiet must have no dreams at all; when the brain is quiet during sleep there is a totally different quality entering into the mind. How does it happen that the brain which is so tremendously, enthusiastically active, can naturally, easily, be quiet without any effort or suppression? I will show it to you. ??????????

As we said, during the day it is endlessly active. You wake up, you look out of the window and say to yourself, ‘Oh, awful rain’, or ‘It is a marvellous day, but too hot’ you have started! So at that moment, when you look out of the window, don’t say a word; not suppressing words but simply realizing that by saying, ‘What a lovely morning’, or ‘A horrible day’, the brain has started. But if you watch, looking out of the window and not saying a word to yourself – which does not mean you suppress the word just observing without the activity of the brain rushing in, there you have the clue, there you have the key. When the old brain does not respond, there is a quality of the new brain coming into being. You can observe the mountains, the river, the valleys, the shadows, the lovely trees and the marvellous clouds full of light beyond the mountains you can look without a word, without comparing.

But it becomes much more difficult when you look at another person; there already you have established images. But just to observe! You will see when you so observe, when you see clearly, that action becomes extraordinarily vital; it becomes a complete action which is not carried over to the next minute. You understand?

One has problems, deep or superficial, not sleeping well, quarrelling with one’s wife, and one carries these problems on from day to day. Dreams are the repetition of these problems, the repetition of fear and pleasure over and over again. That obviously stupefies the mind and makes the brain dull. Now is it possible to end each problem as it arises? – not carrying it over. Take a problem: somebody has insulted me, told me I am a fool; at that moment the old brain responds instantly, saying ‘So are you’. If, before the brain responds, I am completely aware of what has been said something unpleasant – I have an interval, a gap, so that the brain does not immediately jump into the battle. So if you watch the movement of thought in action during the day, you realize that it is breeding problems, and that problems are things which are incomplete, which have to be carried over. But if you watch with a brain that is fairly quiet, then you will see that action becomes complete, instantaneous; there is no carrying over of a problem, no carrying over of the insult or the praise – it is finished. Then, during sleep, the brain no longer carrying on the old activities of the day, it has complete rest. And as the brain is quiet in sleep, there takes place a rejuvenation of its whole structure. A quality of innocency comes into being – and the innocent mind can see what is true; not the complicated mind, not that of the philosopher, or the priest.

The innocent mind implies that whole in which are the body, the heart, the brain and the mind. This innocent mind which is never touched by thought, can see what truth is, what reality is, it can see if there is something beyond measure. That is meditation. To come upon this extraordinary beauty of truth, with its ecstasy, you must lay the foundations. The foundation is the understanding of thought, which breeds fear and sustains pleasure, and the understanding of order and therefore virtue; so that there is freedom from all conflict, aggression, brutality and violence. Once one has laid this foundation of freedom, there is a sensitivity which is supreme intelligence, and the whole of the life one leads becomes entirely different.

–          krishnamurti, the impossible question

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silencing judgment

Monastics require silence whenever they see another commit a fault and are tempted to reprimand him or her. Because judging another makes me blind to my own faults, I should remain silent. In remaining silent, I can the better discover my own faults in the failing of another… Even when you think you know the fault of a person precisely and can grasp it with your hands, do not judge. One does not do justice to the other person, but all too easily is deceived; one is fooled by projecting one’s own faults into others. If we keep silence, we escape the danger of being deceived by our projections.

For monastics, silence is essentially aimed at foregoing passing judgment on others. This applies not only to the spoken word, but equally to their interior dialogue.

“He also said, ‘A man may seem to be silent, but if his heart is condemning others he is babbling ceaselessly. But there may be another who talks from morning till night and yet he is truly silent; that is, he says nothing that is not profitable.’ ” (Apophthegmata Patrum)

We are constantly occupied with comparing ourselves to others. In order that we may fare well in this comparison, we downgrade the other. We detect false motives in his actions, self-seeking designs. Thus without realising it we are constantly passing judgment on the people we meet. Our judging intellect speaks constantly within us. If we would refrain from classifying others, judging or even condemning them, we would find interior peace.

??????????“Whenever his thoughts urged him, (Agathon) to pass judgment on something which he saw, he would say to himself, ‘Agathon, it is not your business to do that.’ Thus his spirit was always recollected.” (Apophthegmata Patrum)

Passing judgment on others not only disquiets us, but also binds us to our own faults. Silence with a view to others give us a clearer self-knowledge; it allows us to look through the mechanism of projection through which we shift or own faults into others and therefore become incapable of seeing them in ourselves…

In projecting guilt, our eyes are directed only to the faults of others; our own are behind us and thus invisible to us. In silence we hold our own sins before our eyes and turn to our own situation:

“Abba Paphnutius said, ‘When I was walking along the road, I happened to lose my way and found myself near a village and I saw some people who were talking about evil things. So I stood still, praying for my sins. Then behold an angel came, holding a sword and said to me, “Paphnutius, all those who judge their brothers perish by his sword, but because you have not judged but have humbled yourself before God, saying that you have sinned, your name is written in the book of the living!” ’ ” (Apophthegmata Patrum)

The sins of others are an incentive for us to think about our own. In refraining from passing judgment and remaining silent I become capable of seeing myself in my own sinfulness.

A patriarch gives this advice:

“When you see someone committing sin, pray to the Lord and say, ‘Forgive me, for I have sinned.’ ”

In silence I look not at others but at myself and confront myself with the things I discover within me. Because I do not know the reasons why another acts as he or she does I forbid myself any kind of judgment, and instead, let his or her conduct interpret my own. The fault of the other becomes a mirror in which I see my own in a clearer way… Silence here becomes an expression of love, in which I accept the other, because in silence I have encountered my own weakness.

anselm grun, the challenge of silence

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st francis of assisi.

emptiness and prayer

The true contemplative is not one who prepares his mind for a particular message that he wants or expects to hear, but is one who remains empty because he knows that he can never expect to anticipate the words that will transform his darkness into light. He does not even anticipate a special kind of transformation. He does not demand light instead of darkness. He waits on the Word of God in silence, and, when he is “answered,” it is not so much by a word that bursts into his silence. It is by his silence itself, suddenly, inexplicably revealing itself to him as a word of great power, full of the voice of God.

thomas merton, the climate of monastic prayer

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the limitations of the possible

We are always putting the question of what is possible. If you put an impossible question, your mind then has to find the answer in terms of the impossible – not of what is possible.

-krishnamurti

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a living silence

Vocation to Solitude—To deliver oneself up, to hand oneself over, entrust oneself completely to the silence of a wide landscape of woods and hills, or sea, or desert; to sit still while the sun comes up over the land and fills its silences with light. ?????????? girlTo pray and work in the morning and to labor in meditation in the evening when night falls upon that land and when the silence fills itself with darkness and with stars. This is a true and special vocation. There are few who are willing to belong completely to such silence, to let it soak into their bones, to breathe nothing but silence, to feed on silence, and to turn the very substance of their life into a living and vigilant silence.

 

thomas merton, thoughts in solitude

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sacrificing the body

The actor is a man who works in public with his body, offering it publicly. If this body restricts itself to demonstrating what it is—something that any average person can do—then it is not an obedient instrument capable of performing a spiritual act. If it is exploited for money and to win the favour of the audience, then the art of acting borders on prostitution… Just as only a great sinner can become a great saint according to the theologians…in the same way the actor’s wretchedness can be transformed into a kind of holiness… If the actor, by setting himself a challenge publicly challenges others, and through excess, profanation and outrageous sacrilege reveals himself by casting off his everyday mask, he makes it possible for the spectator to undertake a similar process of self-penetration. If he does not exhibit his body but annihilates it, burns it, frees it from every resistance to any psychic impulse, then he does not sell his body but sacrifices it. He repeats the atonement; he is close to holiness.

jerzy grotowski, towards a poor theatre

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Trane

Propped against the crowded bar
he pours into the curved and silver horn
his old unhappy longing for a home

the dancers twist and turn
he leans and wishes he could burn
his memories to ashes like some old notorious emperor

of rome. but no stars blazed across the sky when he was born
no wise men found his hovel. this crowded bar
where dancers twist and turn

holds all the fame and recognition he will ever earn
on earth or heaven. he leans against the bar
and pours his old unhappy longing in the saxophone

Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Black + Blues

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normal and abnormal

How have individuals been affected by the technological advances of recent years? Here is the answer to this question given by philosopher-psychiatrist, Dr. Erich Fromm:

Our contemporary western society, in spite of its material, intellectual and political progress, is increasingly less conducive to mental health, and tends to undermine the inner security, happiness, reason and the capacity for love in the individual; it tends to turn him into an automaton who pays for his human failure with increasing mental sickness, and with despair hidden under a frantic drive for work and so-called pleasure. the new messiah . detail ii

Our ‘increasing mental sickness’ may find expression in neurotic symptoms. These symptoms are conspicuous and extremely distressing. But ‘let us beware,’ says Dr. Fromm, ‘of defining mental hygiene as the prevention of symptoms. Symptoms as such are not our enemy, but our friend; where there are symptoms there is conflict, and conflict always indicates that the forces of life which strive for integration and happiness are still fighting.’ The really hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. ‘Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does.’ They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted, still cherish ‘the illusion of individuality’, but in fact they have been to a great extent deindividualized. Their conformity is developing in to something like uniformity. But ‘uniformity and freedom are incompatible. Uniformity and mental health are incompatible too… Man is not made to be an automaton, and if he becomes one, the basis for mental health is destroyed.

In the course of evolution nature has gone to endless trouble to see that every individual is unlike every other individual. We reproduce our kind by bringing the father’s genes into contact with the mother’s. These hereditary factors may be combined in an almost infinite number of ways. Physically and mentally, each one of us is unique. Any culture which, in the interests of efficiency or in the name of some political or religious dogma, seeks to standardize the human individual, commits an outrage against man’s biological nature.

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited

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alchemy . the transforming power of imagination

The transforming power of imagination papa bois played a key role in the alchemist’s attempt to achieve a unity which was symbolized by gold but was as much psychological as physical in nature – the alchemist projected his own psychic background, his unconscious, into the matter on which he experimented, so that the latter became, as it were, his other self, with whom he entered into a living relationship equivalent to an ‘inner dialogue’.

hena maes-jelinek . the labyrinth of universality

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THE TEMPLE AND THE BODY

The rich

will make temples for Siva.

What shall I,

a poor man,

do?

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My legs are pillars,

the body the shrine,

the head a cupola

of gold.

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Listen, O lord of the meeting rivers, ??????????

things standing shall fall,

but the moving ever shall stay.

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820 .

Basavanna, poet-saint of the bhakti sect of Virasaiva

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i am brahman

9 Now, the question is raised: “Since people think that they will become the Whole by knowing brahman, what did brahman know that enabled it to become the Whole?”

10 In the beginning this world was only brahman, and it knew only itself (atman), thinking: “I am brahman” As a result, it became the Whole. Among the gods, likewise, whosoever realized this, only they became the Whole. It was the same also among the seers and among humans. Upon seeing this very point, the seer Vamadeva proclaimed: “I was Manu, and I was the sun.” This is true even now. If a man knows “I am brahman” in this way, he becomes this whole world. Not even the gods are able to prevent it, for he becomes their very self (atman). So when a man venerates another deity, thinking, “He is one, and I am another,” he does not understand.

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Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 9-10

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the struggle

One day in 1972, I came home from work and found my wife sitting at the kitchen table with a pair of gardening shears in front of her. She was smiling, which suggested I wasn’t in too much trouble; on the other hand, she said she wanted my wallet. That didn’t sound good.

Nevertheless, I handed it over. She rummaged out my Texaco gasoline credit card—such things were routinely sent to young marrieds then—and proceeded to cut it into three large pieces. When I protested that the card had been very handy, and we always made at least the minimum payment at the end of the month (sometimes more), she only shook her head and told me that the interest charges were more than our fragile household economy could bear. DSCN3704 ii

“Better to remove the temptation,” she said. “I already cut up mine.”

And that was that. Neither of us carried a credit card for the next two years.

She was right to do it, smart to do it, because at the time we were in our early twenties and had two kids to take care of; financially, we were just keeping our heads above water. I was teaching high school English and working at an industrial laundry during the summer, washing motel sheets and occasionally driving a delivery truck around to those same motels. Tabby was taking care of the kids during her days, writing poems when they took their naps, and working a full shift at Dunkin’ Donuts after I came home from school. Our combined income was enough to pay the rent, buy groceries, and keep diapers on our infant son, but not enough to manage a phone; we let that go the way of the Texaco card. Too much temptation to call someone long distance. There was enough left over to occasionally buy books—neither of us could live without those—and to pay for my bad habits (beer and cigarettes), but very little beyond that. Certainly there wasn’t money to pay finance charges for the privilege of carrying that convenient but ultimately dangerous rectangle of plastic.

What left-over income we did have usually went for things like car repairs, doctor bills, or what Tabby and I called “kidshit”: toys, a second-hand playpen, a few of those maddening Richard Scarry books. And that little bit of extra often came from the short stories I was able to sell to men’s magazines like Cavalier, Dude, and Adam. In those days it was never about writing literature, and any discussion of my fiction’s “lasting value” would have been as much a luxury as that Texaco card. The stories, when they sold (they didn’t always), were simply a welcome bit of found money. I viewed them as a series of piñatas I banged on, not with a stick but my imagination. Sometimes they broke and showered down a few hundred bucks. Other times, they didn’t.

Luckily for me—and believe me when I say that I have led an extremely lucky life, in more ways than this one—my work was also my joy. I was knocking myself out with most of those stories, having a blast. They came one after another, like the hits from the AM rock radio station that was always playing in the combination study-and-laundry-room where I wrote them.

I wrote them fast and hard, rarely looking back after the second rewrite…

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stephen king, from introduction to just after sunset: stories

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auguries of innocence

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To see the world in a grain of sand,

And a heaven in a wild flower;

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,

And eternity in an hour.

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william blake

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MAHADEVIYAKKA . poet-saint . defying conventions in search of Divine Love

MAHADEVI, a younger contemporary of Basavanna and Allama in the twelfth century, was born in Udutadi, a village in Sivamogga, near the birthplace of Allama. At ten, she was initiated to Siva-worship by an unknown guru. She considered that moment the moment of her real birth. Apparently, the form of Siva at the Udutadi temple was Mallikarjuna, translated either as ‘the Lord White as Jasmine’ or as ‘Arjuna, Lord of goddess Mallika’. ‘Cenna’ means ‘lovely, beautiful’. She fell in love with Cennamallikarjuna and took his name for a ‘signature’ (ankita) in all her vacanas [poems].

She betrothed herself to Siva and none other, but human lovers pressed their suit. The rivalry between the Divine Lover and all human loves was dramatized by the incidents of her own life. Kausika, the king (or chieftain) of the land, saw her one day and fell in love with her. He sent word to her parents, asking for her hand. In addition to being only human, he disqualified himself further by being a bhavi, an unbeliever. Yet he persuaded her, or rather her parents, partly by show of force, and partly by his protestations of love. It is quite likely that she married him and lived with him, though some scholars dispute the tainting fact. Anyhow it must have been a trying marriage for both. Kausika, the wordling, full of desire for her as a mortal, was the archetype of sensual man; Mahadevi, a spirit married already to the Lord White as Jasmine, scorning all human carnal love as corrupt and illegitimate, wife to no man, exile bound to the world’s wheeling lives, archetypal sister of all souls. Significantly she is known as Akka ‘elder sister’. Many of Mahadevi’s most moving vacanas speak of this conflict. Sometimes, the Lord is her illicit lover, sometimes her only legitimate husband. This ambiguous alternation of attitudes regarding the legitimacy of living in the world is a fascinating aspect of Mahadevi’s poetry.

At one point, Kausika appears to have tried to force his will on her and so she leaves him, cutting clean her relations with the whole world of men. Like many another saint, enacting…true homelessness by…wanderings, she left birthplace and parents. She appears to have thrown away even modesty and clothing, those last concessions to the male world, in a gesture of ultimate social defiance, and wandered about covered in her tresses.

Through a world of molesting male attentions she wandered, defiant and wary, asserting the legitimacy of her illicit love for the Lord, searching for him and his devotees. She walked towards Kalyana, the centre of Virasaiva saints, the ‘halls of Experience’ where Allama and Basavanna ran a school for kindred spirits.

Allama did not accept her at once. A remarkable conversation ensued, a dialogue between skeptic and love-child which turned into a catechism between guru and disciple. Many of Mahadevi’s vacanas are placed by legend in this famous dialogue. When Allama asked the wild-looking woman for her husband’s identity, she replied she was married forever to Cennamallikarjuna. He asked her then the obvious question: ‘Why take off clothes, as if by that gesture you could peel off illusions? And yet robe yourself in tresses of hair? If so free and pure in heart, why replace a sari with a covering of tresses?’ Her reply is honest:

Till the fruit is ripe inside

the skin will not fall off.

I’d a feeling it would hurt you

If I displayed the body’s seals of love.

O brother, don’t tease me

needlessly. I’m given entire

into the hands of my lord

white as jasmine.

  – Mahadeviyakka 183 mother

At the end of this ordeal by dialogue she was accepted into the company of saints. From then begins the second lap of her journey to her Lord. She wandered wild and god-intoxicated, in love with him, yet not finding him. Restless, she left Kalyana and wandered off again towards Srisaila, the Holy Mountain, where she found him and lost herself. Her search is recorded in her vacanas as a search for her love, following all the phases of human love as set forth by the conventions of Indian, especially Sanskrit, poetry. The three chief forms of love, love forbidden, love in separation and love in union are all expressed in her poems, often one attitude informing and complicating another in the same poem.

She was recognized by her fellow-saints as the most poetic of them all, with a single symbolic action unifying all her poetry. She enlists the traditional imagery of pan-Indian secular love-poetry for personal expression. In her, the phases of human love are metaphors for the phases of mystic ascent. In this search, unlike the other saints, she involves all of nature, a sister to bird, beast and tree. Appropriately, she chose for adoration an aesthetic aspect of Siva, Siva as Cennamallikarjuna, or the Lovely Lord White as Jasmine.

Like other bhaktas, her struggle was with her condition, as body, as woman, as social being tyrannized by social roles, as a human confined to a place and a time. Through these shackles she bums, defiant in her quest for ecstasy.

According to legend, she died into ‘oneness with Siva’ when she was hardly in her twenties—a  brief bright burning.

from speaking of siva, a k ramanujan

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 to change your language you must change your life.

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Derek Walcott,

from Collected Poems 1948-1984 

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.   the nature of love

And now i will show you the most excellent way.

If i speak in the language of men and of angels, but have not love, i am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If i have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if i have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, i am nothing. If i give all i possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, i gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When i was a child, i talked like a child, i thought like a child, i reasoned like a child. When i became a man, i put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now i know in part; then i shall know fully, even as i am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

–          bible . 1 corinthians 13

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alan moore : my life as a writer

“Quitting my day job and starting my life as a writer was a tremendous risk; it was a fool’s leap, a shot in the dark. But anything of any value in our lives—whether that be a career, a work of art, a relationship—will always start with a such a leap. ?????????? And in order to make it you have to put aside the fear of failing and the desire of succeeding. You have to do these things completely purely, without fear, without desire. Because things that we do without lust or result are the purest actions that we shall ever take.”

– alan moore

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