May 2017

"The Song of the Bird" — Anthony de Mello

Detail of singing Common Yellowthroat, an original gouache painting by David Sibley

The disciples were full of questions about God.

Said the Master, “God is Unknown, the Unknowable. Every statement about Him, every answer to your questions, is a distortion of the Truth.”

The disciples were bewildered. “Then why do you speak about Him at all?”

“Why does the bird sing?” said the Master.
Not because he has a statement, but because he has a song.
The words of the Scholar are to be understood. The words of the Master are not to be understood. They are to be listened to as one listens to the wind in the trees and the sound of the river and the song of the bird. They will awaken something within the heart that is beyond all knowledge.


"Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou


You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

“Prayer to the self” by Swami Venkatesananda

“Prayer to the self”
by Swami Venkatesananda

When the intelligence is free
from the cloud of ego-sense
and from the thunderstorm of cravings,
it shines with the light of self-knowledge.
O self, free from the mire of ego-sense,
salutations to you.
O self, in whom the fearsome senses
and all-consuming mind
have attained quiescence,
salutations to you.
O self, the sun that dispels the darkness of ignorance in the heart, salutations to you.
O self, the promoter of supreme love
and the sustainer of all things in the universe,
salutations to you.
Even as steel cuts the steel-beam
which has been heated,
I have subdued the mind
with its own purified state.
Egolessly, my body functions with its inherent energy.
The past tendencies, mental conditioning and limitations
have been completely destroyed.
I begin to wonder: how was it that for such a long time
I was caught up in the trap of the ego-sense!
Freed from dependency,
from habits of thought,
from desires and cravings,
from deluded belief in the existence of the ego,
from the coloring of pleasure-seeking tendency
and from revelry —
my mind has reached a state of utter quiescence.
With this, all sorrow has come to an end
and the light of supreme bliss has dawned!
The Concise Yoga Vasistha, On Dissolution    
Swami Venkatesananda,  p. 195.

This poem was given me as a gift by a dear friend Marty who walks with wisdom and depth of heart.
—Bei Kuan-tu

"Pathways" by Mark Nepo

Fence pathway-79c364d01d9f1bb25e80def9673aab57
---"Fence Pathway" by Drew Hendsbee

I don’t know why I was born
with this belief in something
deeper and larger than we can
But it’s always called.
Even as a boy,
I knew that trees and light and sky
all point to some timeless center out of view.
I have spent my life
listening to that center
and filtering it through my heart.
This listening
and filtering
is the music of my soul,
of all souls.
After sixty years,
I’ve run
out of ways to name this.
Even now, my heart won’t stand still.
In a moment of seeing,
it takes the shape of my eye.
In a moment of speaking,
the shape of my tongue.
In a moment of silence,
it slips back into the lake of center.
When you kiss me,
it takes the shape of your lip.
When our dog sleeps with us,
it takes the shape of her curl.
When the hummingbird feeds her baby,
it takes the shape of her beak
carefully dropping food into our throats.