Retrieved and reposted by Poetry Foundation website.
In Paradise Valley I have a neighbor named Jane. Jane’s bamboo plants creep into my patio area, dropping dead leaves onto my rock garden.
Each week I clean the dead leaves from the rock garden; sometimes twice a week, sometimes more.
Within half an hour after each cleaning, a slight breeze blows and more dead leaves fall from Jane’s bamboo.
Jane’s bamboo carries a great teaching about the impermanence of all things.
The world does not owe you an explanation. Stop thinking about it; instead, live.
“You think about your acts,” he said. “Therefore you have to believe your acts are as important as you think they are, when in reality nothing of what one does is important. Nothing! But then if nothing really matters, as you asked me, how can I go on living? It would be simple to die; that’s what you say and believe, because you’re thinking about life, just as you’re thinking now what seeing would be like. You wanted me to describe it to you so you could begin to think about it, the way you do with everything else. In the case of seeing, however, thinking is not the issue at all, so I cannot tell you what it is like to see. Now you want me to describe the reasons for my controlled folly and I can only tell you that controlled folly is very much like seeing; it is something you cannot think about. . .
“. . .You really know how to talk and say nothing, don’t you. . .you seem to have an unbending intent to confuse yourself with riddles. You insist on explaining everything as if the whole world were composed of things that can be explained. Now you are confronted with the guardian and with the problem of moving by using your will. Has it ever occurred to you that only a few things in the world can be explained your way?”
-teachings of don Juan
“Creativity and ego cannot go together. If you free yourself from the comparing and jealous mind, your creativity opens up endlessly. Just as water springs from a fountain, creativity springs from every moment.
“You must not be your own obstacle. You must not be owned by the environment you are in. You must own the environment, the phenomenal world around you. You must be able to freely move in and out of your mind. THIS is being free.
“There is no way you can’t open up your creativity. There is no ego to speak of. This is my belief.” — Jeong Kwan, Buddhist monk (nun)
Truth. Intimacy. Love. Even the Master breaks sometimes, and it is beautiful.
It isn’t as hard as we make it; but we must be wiling to relinquish habit mind and cut through illusion. Can you sit and look without naming, judging, categorizing? Try it.
“If we are willing to do whatever it takes to find God, then we must quit commenting or reflecting upon what we see and experience. We need not name, judge, analyze, or think about what we experience; we can experience what is happening directly through sensory perception. We can quit fantasizing about how we think the world ought to be and bring ourselves back to the immediacy of its isness. We can learn to quit talking to ourselves by strongly focusing our attention upon what we are physically doing and what we are physically sensing during each moment of the day.
“Finally, we can quit attaching to ideas and images by learning how to watch them appear and disappear in silence. Just as we learned to divide the world into parts, we can also learn to put it back together again and see it again whole.”
–excerpt from Beyond Conceptual Thought by R. Harwood and Ven. Wonji Dharma
Who you are, right now, sad or happy, is enough; it is the truth.
“So the real experience, beyond the dream world, is the beauty and color and excitement of the real experience of now in everyday life. When we face things as they are, we give up the hope of something better. There will be no magic, because we cannot tell ourselves to get out of our depression. Depression and ignorance, the emotions, whatever we experience, are all real and contain tremendous truth. If we really want to learn and see the experience of truth, we have to be where we are. The whole thing is just a matter of being a grain of sand.”
–Chogyam Trungpa, from Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism
I stumbled upon this poem a few days ago and it continues to haunt me. Perhaps you will also be moved by this powerful piece by David Wagoner, from his book Traveling Light. I have a feeling that this piece will walk with me for many months to come.
Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
-by David Wagoner