Maya

from reflajandome.com

 

That I should make much of myself and turn it on all sides,

thus casting colored shadows on thy radiance

—such is thy Maya.

 

Thou settest a barrier in thine own being

and then callest thy severed self in myriad notes.

This thy self-separation has taken body in me.

 

The poignant song is echoed through all the sky in many-coloued tears

and smiles, alarms and hopes; waves rise up and sink again,

dreams break and form.

In me is thy own defeat of self.

 

This screen that thou hast raised is painted with innumerable figures

with the brush of the night and the day.

Behind it thy seat is woven in wondrous mysteries of curves,

casting away all barren lines of straightness.

 

The great pageant of thee and me has overspread the sky.

With the tune of thee and me all the air is vibrant,

and all ages pass with the hiding and seeking of thee and me.

 

~ Rabindranath Tagore

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I am not working in ignorance

The grapes of my body can only become wine
after the winemaker tramples me.
I surrender my spirit like grapes to his trampling
so my innermost heart can blaze and dance with joy.
Although the grapes go on weeping blood and sobbing
‘I cannot bear any more anguish,
any more cruelty’
the trampler stuffs cotton in his ears:  I am not working in ignorance.
You can deny me if you want, you have every excuse.
But it is I who am the Master of this Work.
And when through my Passion you reach perfection,
you will never be done praising my name.

~ Rumi

By Chance, Of Course

I enjoy this poem. It is a sweet little bit of invective. Berry may have faith in a creator God, who acts with a purpose or a plan, and that is not reflective of my own deepest sense, but I love his cranky reverence and his openness to being moved and broken by beauty. I appreciate his willingness to reside in a sort of ignorance (or, perhaps, in a second innocence, such as might arise out of the recognition of the limitations that reason encounters when trying to grasp and define the ineffable) without demanding that understanding arrive. And I like that though he recognizes this, he is fully engaged in the attempt to articulate and testify despite the final impossibility of tying it all up “with a ribbon”.

I suppose I feel that chance is one of the poetic elements that informs and enables the existence and emergence of the kosmos, but I would agree with Berry that the dry linearity of designating “chance” as the explanation-to-it-all results in a creation story that lacks dimension and seems to ignore or miss the holiness of the ordinary.

And anyway, what a rock-star way to close a poem!

Image from Bill Hubick Photography

From the February 2009 issue of Harper’s Magazine:

By Wendell Berry. His essay “Faustian Economics” appeared in the May issue of Harper’s Magazine.

WHILE ATTENDING THE ANNUAL
CONVOCATION OF CAUSE THEORISTS AND
BIGBANGISTS AT THE LOCAL PROVINCIAL
RESEARCH UNIVERSITY, THE MAD FARMER
INTERCEDES FROM THE BACK ROW

“Chance” is a poor word among
the mazes of causes and effects, the last
stand of these all-explainers who,
backed up to the first and final Why,
reply, “By chance, of course!” As if
that tied up ignorance with a ribbon.
In the beginning something by chance
existed that would bang and by chance
it banged, obedient to the by-chance
previously existing laws of existence
and banging, from which the rest proceeds
by logic of cause and effect also
previously existing by chance? Well,
when all that happened who was there?
Did the chance that made the bang then make
the Bomb, and there was no choice, no help?
Prove to me that chance did ever
make a sycamore tree, a yellow-
throated warbler nesting and singing
high up among the white limbs
and the golden leaf-light, and a man
to love the tree, the bird, the song
his life long, and by his love to save
them, so far, from all the machines.
By chance? Prove it, then, and I
by chance will kiss your ass.

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.

-Tao Te Ching

photo is a still from the Korean film “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring

Medicine

Joey Lawrence Photography

Joey Lawrence Photography

Angeles Arrien writes:

“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask you one of four questions:

When did you stop dancing?
When did you stop singing?
When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?”

A Blessing

By James Wright

Just off the Highway to Rochester, Minnesota
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.

Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.