Thursday, May 5, 2022

Our intimacy with works of art

Objects of art not merely interest and absorb, they move us; we are not merely involved with them, but concerned with them, and care about them; we treat them in special ways, invest them with a value which normal people otherwise reserve only for other people - and with the same kind of scorn and outrage. They mean something to us, not just the way statements do, but the way people do.

- Stanley Cavell

Friday, April 22, 2022

On writers - madmen, recluses, heretics, dreamers, rebels, skeptics...

True literature can thrive only in places where literature is created not by obedient and reliable bureaucrats but by madmen, recluses, heretics, dreamers, rebels, and skeptics. Where a writer must be reasonable, faithful like a Catholic, useful in the present moment, where he cannot flail at everyone as Jonathan Swift did or smile at everything as Anatole France does, there can be no literature that is cast in bronze - there can only be the sort printed on paper, the newsprint sort that’s read today and used to wrap bars of soap tomorrow. 

- Yevgeny Zamyatin

Friday, March 11, 2022

On toxic masculinity

Toxic, aggressive masculine energy is the result of society treating boys and men in a certain way.

Traditionally, the playful boy inside a man is gradually suppressed and disciplined by his parents and by society. The demands placed upon him to ‘become a man’ often mean that a boy has to push away his sensitivity, as well as his adventurous, provocative part, in order to become a responsible adult. The responsibility asked of him is often understood in terms of serving his country, religion and family.

The adventurous boy, keen on exploring the new and unknown, gets subdued and this causes deep pain, because the boy essentially holds the key to the man’s soul, his individuality. Being disconnected from your true inspiration causes sadness, anger, and eventually depression and aggression.

Toxic masculinity arises when masculinity is forced into boxes and roles that kill the boy and force a man to enslave himself: by serving the nation, the family, the community, he is forced to deny his individual freedom, and sadly, his ability to express his unique soul’s gifts in this world.

Eventually, the man may start to glorify the very boxes that imprison him. He may become fanatically nationalist, racist, religious or sexist. His behavior may then become explicitly aggressive and destructive, as we see happening now in the war in Ukraine.

- Jeshua and Pamela Kribbe

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

A humble and endearing account of blunders and livelihood

As I look back over the past years, reflecting on the blunders committed by my awkward self, I remember that at one time it was my ambition to become a high official with a large fief, and at another I intended to enter a Buddhist monastery and lead a life of meditation. But all the while I have lived a life of painful wanderings with wind and cloud, racking my brains over poems about flowers and birds. Since this has become my livelihood, though I am ungifted by nature and without skill, nevertheless, I have now devoted myself to this art alone. 

- Matsuo Bashō 

Friday, January 21, 2022

Jeshua on Body and Soul

Dear friends, I am Jeshua. I greet you all from my heart. It gives me deep joy to connect with each of you in the here and now. Feel how space and time fall away, how we meet each other, soul to soul, in a dimension beyond the material, beyond the definitions of space and time. We meet on the inner level and I invite you to be here with me.

You are infinitely precious, each one of you: the way you are here and now, with the particular qualities you have, the body in which you dwell, the personality that belongs to you. But within that “you-ness” is contained something else, something which transcends all that: it is your soul. Feel your soul, which is also participating in other realities, whose consciousness extends far beyond the earthly, yet still wants to be here on Earth through you. Feel your soul, for a moment, as a field around you and become aware of that field.

Between the earthly and the heavenly are all kinds of layers – levels of materiality – some very rarefied and ethereal, and others very visible and tangible. Feel your body from within. Your body is built from material elements of the Earth, so feel how solid and tangible it is; feel its immediate physical presence.

It is important to experience your body as a haven, as something in which your soul can live and in which you are safe. Receive your body joyfully and without judging it in terms of health or illness, beauty or self-image; receive it purely as the haven through which your soul’s energy flows and is grounded. See your body as part of your soul, and not simply as a thing separate from you, but as illuminated and quickened by your soul. When you experience your body consciously, you feel lighter and you seem to become more fluid. You are not only your body, but it is a part of you.

By accepting, from a stance of gentleness and admiration, what your body brings about, and by appreciating everything your body does for you by way of sensations and energies, you raise your body from simply the material to a more ethereal level. And the body becomes happy because of that! Matter wants to be illuminated by consciousness, by love. Imagine that you become aware of all the cells of your body, and you greet them with warmth.

Then become aware of who is doing this, who it is that regards the body and receives it with warmth and appreciation. Feel that consciousness – it is your soul. Become aware that your soul is much greater than your body. Do you see a color or sense an energy when you do this? Direct your attention from your body – although still hold it in an embrace of love – and become your soul. Sense those other dimensions that you are, those that vibrate on a different level of existence than the physical. Maybe you can see yourself appear as a sphere of light or as an angel. Allow a form to appear that suits you, one that represents your soul, that great field rich in experiences from many lives, the wisdom you carry within you, the depth of your feeling. Call that up and let your soul figure appear before you, and enjoy it.

Remember who you are, the grandeur of that. Recognize that figure and allow it energetically into the here and now, and let that energy flow through to your heart. The heart is energetically the gateway between the soul and the body, and if you allow your soul energy to enter your aura or energy field, notice that you become more expanded and take up more space. Let that happen, but do not be concerned for you are not limiting anyone else by your doing that.  On the contrary, when your energy field – your body and being – is filled with the light of your soul, you become a delight and inspiration to others. It is not a competitive energy, but rather one that desires to inspire and awaken, an energy that takes pleasure if others do it, too.

When your soul unites with your body, and that very subtle, ethereal level connects with the earthly, sense how that connection can translate into practical ways. Know that it is very important in daily life to keep in touch with this reality, this vibration, this higher part of yourself, and to allow that energy to literally come down and merge with your body and the physical, earthly level.

The next step is to allow that inspiration, that connection with your higher self, to flow into your actions and out into the world in practical ways. But for many of you, when you attempt to do that, the following then happens. Parts of you want to connect with your soul, those parts that are highly developed and want to go along with the vibration of the celestial spheres, but other parts of you become frightened when it comes to setting down that energy on to Earth and among people. You see in the world around you that there is seldom much acceptance for that stunning and unique soul energy.

Look at the fields of work, education, and medicine on Earth, and you will see that the concepts which still reign here are concerned with planned structures and theories based on the mental and the rational. Often, the only thing that comes into consideration is the material level, a bleak and barren idea of what it is to be human. Everything is about how dangerous life is, about survival, struggle, and dividing resources such as money, power, and abundance. Diseases are considered dangerous and therefore need to be restrained, and even life itself is a flow that must be tamed – so at that level, there is struggle. Strong emotions and feelings, deep inspirations and visions, are often dismissed as strange, weird, or hysterical.

In your society, from the bottom up, there is a huge need for inspiration from unique individuals who live from an inner fire and who can no longer adapt to the existing order, because that order no longer fits their needs. More and more individuals feel suffocated, literally, by the existing framework; they can no longer stand it. You see that especially in the generations of children who are now appearing on Earth. They can no longer tolerate that kind of suffocating existence, even on the physical level. They cannot be forced into a straitjacket, which the older generations were able to do.

In this way, change occurs on Earth where it becomes ever more necessary to integrate the soul’s energy into life. It is no longer a luxury to deepen that energy through meditation and leading a spiritual life. No, it is the mission and vocation of every human being to connect with their soul and to start living from inner truth, because the alternative is no longer viable. On an individual level, people become burned out or frustrated, discontent or depressed, and on a general, societal level, the result is profound problems in dealing with nature and with the resources of Mother Earth. On all fronts, it is now clear that it is necessary to start living differently, from a source that can not be defined by the purely material.

Matter and the material have an important value: it is the form in which the soul wants to express itself. But if life becomes fixated only on the forms – the external – then the forms become impoverished and life is a struggle in which no one will experience sense or meaning. That is why welcoming the soul into your life can not be an extraordinary act, but has to become an ordinary act: an everyday, normal part of education and life. Then the soul becomes the source of endless creativity and abundance that more and more people at all levels now crave.

You become a lightworker when you feel the urge to act and live from your soul, your heart, and from what really inspires you. You become a lightworker when you live from what lifts you above the banality of having to struggle and survive, instead of by fear and by having to pretend to be someone you are not. You can call it being a lightworker, or any other name you prefer, but what matters is that, as a human being, you feel called so strongly to respond to the voice of your soul that you can no longer not do it – you know you can no longer adapt to the old way of being. That means you transition to a heart-based consciousness; that you take a decisive step forward to where you can not turn back.

This being propelled by a heart borne consciousness is accompanied by peaks and valleys in your life, because there are times when you face deep fears of letting go of the old. The old can be extremely upsetting, yet there can still be a huge fear of the new, the undefined, that which is uncertain. The inspiration, thoughts, and ideas you receive from the essence of your soul sometimes seem to get crushed under that old way of seeing and reasoning that is still prevalent in many parts of society.

How do you give form to the voice of your soul and remain true to it in everyday life? By feeling the power of your soul; by literally feeling it flow through you. Feel how the Earth and life on Earth craves for inspiration. The moment you choose that inner path of making the connection with your soul, you are really being true to yourself and you dare to be different in an environment where the voice of the soul is not yet heard. When you feel you have heard the voice of your soul, that does not mean you are better than other people. You simply know you are on a path that is, for you, your deepest vocation, a path from which you can not stray. It is a path you have to keep believing in, even when you are judged and rejected by external factors, or from within by voices you have absorbed from your parents or your surroundings.

I call on you to feel the power of your soul and to see the weakness of a life based on fear and struggle, and on hiding yourself. If you hide from the brilliance, the power, and the creativity of your soul, you become unhappy. But you can no longer go back to the old, because you no longer fit in, so you can only move forward. Remember that voice, time and time again, and dare to allow your light to shine. And you do that in the simplest ways: by what you say, by who you are, by what you emanate.

Everything has a vibration. A body in which regular contact is made with the soul, with the origin that enlivens and animates the body, has a different vibration than a body that is plagued by fear or negative feelings. If you are comfortable with yourself, and you appreciate yourself for who you are – your source, your uniqueness – this emanates toward others even though you say nothing to them. Who you are and what you transmit with your eyes and energy field will be seen anyway, wherever you are. Actually, you can never be really invisible, your energy is there, it can not be undone.

The more you dare to touch your earthly being with your soul, the more will it have an outward impact, and you will live your life differently, no longer attached to things that do not nurture you or agree with you. You become more powerful both in what you want and in what you do not want. Your soul becomes more visible to the outside world, and because of that, your light shines more strongly. Always be aware that this light invites other people to believe in themselves and to also begin to radiate their uniqueness. The light of your soul is not competitive or combative.

Finally, look at a situation in your daily life in which you feel you withhold your inner light, in which you keep yourself back and do not allow yourself to be seen. What would happen if you allowed your light to be seen? If you were completely relaxed in the situation and did not hold back your light? If you did not contain yourself, but would allow yourself to be more spontaneous? What would you say and do? Realize that if you allow your soul’s energy to enter into your humanity, you are going to express your feelings in plain, honest language, and that is not always what is called “politically correct”.

You can sometimes feel it very spontaneously: “No, I don’t feel like it; no, I don’t want to do this”. It is also important to express these feelings in relation to others and to be very clear where your boundaries are. The soul’s energy works by its true nature, as does the child in you who has clear feelings about what it does and does not want. It is when you allow that higher vibration, that rarefied energy, to manifest that you become very human, that you make use of the language of your emotions, of your inner child.

Do you trust it? That energy comes from within, it is real! Then you become spontaneous in the purest sense of the word, because you are then listening to your feelings and giving expression to them. And when you do that, you give the other person space in which to express their feelings, while you stay true to yourself. You do not accept being fitted into a mold that does not suit you.

It is the deepest desire of your soul to be here and now through your earthly body, and to be expressed and visible through everything that is earthly. Your soul wants to embrace the earthly life, to make of it something pleasurable and new, and to give off sparks of consciousness on Earth. This can be a source of joy, and although you also go through fears that hinder you, always take a step forward – dare to do it. In fact, you can not go back. When you experience the power of your soul in your daily life, you essentially feel that you are being carried forward. The light wants to express itself and knows how, if you dare say “yes” to it.

Thank you for your presence and for this being together that I feel deeply within my heart.

via Pamela Kribbe

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Half-Light By Frank Bidart

That crazy drunken night I

maneuvered you out into a field outside of

Coachella - I’d never seen a sky

so full of stars, as if the dirt of our lives

still were sprinkled with glistening

white shells from the ancient seabed

beneath us that receded long ago.

Parallel. We lay in parallel furrows.

- That suffocated, fearful

look on your face.

Jim, yesterday I heard your wife on the phone

tell me you died almost nine months ago.

Jim, now we cannot ever. Bitter

that we cannot ever have

the conversation that in

nature and alive we never had. Now not ever.

We have not spoken in years. I thought

perhaps at ninety or a hundred, two

broken-down old men, we wouldn’t

give a damn, and find speech.

When I tell you that all the years we were

undergraduates I was madly in love with you

you say you

knew. I say I knew you

knew. You say

There was no place in nature we could meet.

You say this as if you need me to

admit something. No place

in nature, given our natures. Or is this

warning? I say what is happening now is

happening only because one of us is

dead. You laugh and say, Or both of us!

Our words

will be weirdly jolly.

That light I now envy

exists only on this page.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Resist through art, joy, faith, and love

This moment humanity is going through can now be seen as a portal and as a hole. The decision to fall into the hole or go through the portal is up to you.

If you repent of the problem and consume the news 24 hours a day, with little energy, nervous all the time, with pessimism, you will fall into the hole. But if you take this opportunity to look at yourself, rethink life and death, take care of yourself and others, you will cross the portal. Take care of your homes, take care of your body. Connect with your spiritual House.

When you are taking care of yourselves, you are taking care of everything else. Do not lose the spiritual dimension of this crisis; have the eagle aspect from above and see the whole; see more broadly.

There is a social demand in this crisis, but there is also a spiritual demand -- the two go hand in hand. Without the social dimension, we fall into fanaticism. But without the spiritual dimension, we fall into pessimism and lack of meaning. You were prepared to go through this crisis. Take your toolbox and use all the tools available to you.

Learn about resistance of the indigenous and African peoples; we have always been, and continue to be, exterminated. But we still haven't stopped singing, dancing, lighting a fire, and having fun. Don't feel guilty about being happy during this difficult time.

You do not help at all being sad and without energy. You help if good things emanate from the Universe now. It is through joy that one resists. Also, when the storm passes, each of you will be very important in the reconstruction of this new world.

You need to be well and strong. And for that, there is no other way than to maintain a beautiful, happy, and bright vibration. This has nothing to do with alienation.

This is a resistance strategy. In shamanism, there is a rite of passage called the quest for vision. You spend a few days alone in the forest, without water, without food, without protection. When you cross this portal, you get a new vision of the world, because you have faced your fears, your difficulties.

This is what is asked of you: Allow yourself to take advantage of this time to perform your vision-seeking rituals. What world do you want to build for you? For now, this is what you can do -- serenity in the storm. Calm down, pray every day. Establish a routine to meet the sacred every day.

Good things emanate; what you emanate now is the most important thing. And sing, dance, resist through art, joy, faith, and love.

- White Eagle, Hopi indigenous

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The spaciousness of farce

On the other hand, for the cultivated person who at the same time is free and easy enough to entertain himself independently and has enough self-confidence to know, by himself, without seeking the testimony of others, whether he has been entertained or not, the farce will have perhaps a very special significance, for the fact that it will affect his spirit in various ways, now by the spaciousness of the abstraction, now by the introduction of a palpable reality. But of course he will not bring with him a readymade mood and let everything produce its effect in relation to that, but he will have cultivated his spirit to perfection and will keep himself in the state where not one single mood is present, but the possibility of all. 

- Kierkegaard

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The image and feminine values / masculine values and the written word

To perceive things such as trees and buildings through images delivered to the eye, the brain uses wholeness, simultaneity, and synthesis. To ferret out the meaning of alphabetic writing, the brain relies instead on sequence, analysis, and abstraction. Custom and language associate the former characteristics with the feminine, the latter, with the masculine. As we examine the myths of different cultures, we will see that these linkages are consistent. ...

The introduction of the written word, and then the alphabet, into the social intercourse of humans initiated a fundamental change in the way newly literate cultures understood their reality. It was this dramatic change in mindset … that was primarily responsible for fostering patriarchy. ...

The Old Testament was the first alphabetic written work to influence future ages. Attesting to its gravitas, multitudes still read it three thousand years later. The words on its pages anchor three powerful religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Each is an exemplar of patriarchy. Each monotheistic religion features an imageless Father deity whose authority shines through His revealed Word, sanctified in its written form. Conceiving of a deity who has no concrete image prepares the way for the kind of abstract thinking that inevitably leads to law codes, dualistic philosophy, and objective science, the signature triad of Western culture. I propose that the profound impact these ancient scriptures had upon the development of the West depended as much on their being written in an alphabet as on the moral lessons they contained.

Goddess worship, feminine values, and women’s power depend on the ubiquity of the image . God worship, masculine values, and men’s domination of women are bound to the written word. Word and image, like masculine and feminine, are complementary opposites. Whenever a culture elevates the written word at the expense of the image, patriarchy dominates. When the importance of the image supersedes the written word, feminine values and egalitarianism flourish.

- from The Alphabet Versus the Goddess by Leonard Shlain

Monday, August 16, 2021

Onto a Vast Plain - Rainer Maria Rilke

Onto a Vast Plain

You are not surprised at the force of the storm —

you have seen it growing.

The trees flee. Their flight

sets the boulevards streaming. And you know:

he whom they flee is the one

you move toward. All your senses

sing him, as you stand at the window.

The weeks stood still in summer.

The trees’ blood rose. Now you feel

it wants to sink back

into the source of everything. You thought

you could trust that power

when you plucked the fruit:

now it becomes a riddle again

and you again a stranger.

Summer was like your house: you know

where each thing stood.

Now you must go out into your heart

as onto a vast plain. Now

the immense loneliness begins.

The days go numb, the wind

sucks the world from your senses like withered leaves.

Through the empty branches the sky remains.

It is what you have.

Be earth now, and evensong.

Be the ground lying under that sky.

Be modest now, like a thing

ripened until it is real,

so that he who began it all

can feel you when he reaches for you.

- Rainer Maria Rilke (Translated by Joanna Macy)

Monday, July 19, 2021

School failed me, and I failed the school. - Einstein

School failed me, and I failed the school. It bored me. The teachers behaved like Feldwebel (sergeants). I wanted to learn what I wanted to know, but they wanted me to learn for the exam. What I hated most was the competitive system there, and especially sports. Because of this, I wasn’t worth anything, and several times they suggested I leave.

This was a Catholic School in Munich. I felt that my thirst for knowledge was being strangled by my teachers; grades were their only measurement. How can a teacher understand youth with such a system?

From the age of twelve I began to suspect authority and distrust teachers. I learned mostly at home, first from my uncle and then from a student who came to eat with us once a week. He would give me books on physics and astronomy.

The more I read, the more puzzled I was by the order of the universe and the disorder of the human mind, by the scientists who didn’t agree on the how, the when, or the why of creation.

Then one day this student brought me Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Reading Kant, I began to suspect everything I was taught. I no longer believed in the known God of the Bible, but rather in the mysterious God expressed in nature.

The basic laws of the universe are simple, but because our senses are limited, we can’t grasp them. There is a pattern in creation.

If we look at this tree outside whose roots search beneath the pavement for water, or a flower which sends its sweet smell to the pollinating bees, or even our own selves and the inner forces that drive us to act, we can see that we all dance to a mysterious tune, and the piper who plays this melody from an inscrutable distance—whatever name we give him—Creative Force, or God—escapes all book knowledge.

- Albert Einstein

Monday, June 14, 2021

Thunder (Nag Hammadi Codex VI, 2)

I was sent out from the power

and have come to you who study me

and am found by you who seek me.

Look at me, you who study me,

and you who hear, hear me.

You waiting for me, take me into yourselves.

Don’t banish me from your vision.

Don’t let hatred enter your voice against me

or let anger enter your hearing.

In no place, in no time, be unknowing of me.

Be alert. Don’t be ignorant of me.

I am the first and the last.

I am the honored and scorned.

I am the whore and holy.

I am the wife and the virgin.

I am the mother and daughter.

I am the members of my mother

and the barren one with many sons.

I have had a grand wedding

and have not found a husband.

I am a midwife and do not give birth.

I am the solace of my labor pains.

I am bride and groom,

and my husband produced me.

I am the mother of my father

and sister of my husband,

and he is my offspring.

I am a slave of him who prepared me

and ruler of my offspring.

He produced me earlier yet on my birthday.

He is my offspring to come,

and from him is my power.

I am the staff of his power in his youth

and he the rod of my old age,

and whatever he wants happens to me.

I am a silence incomprehensible

and an idea remembered often.

I am the voice whose sound is manifold

and word whose appearance is multiple.

I am the utterance of my name.

Why do you who hate me love me

and hate those who love me?

You who deny me confess me,

and you who confess me deny me.

You who tell the truth about me lie about me,

and you who lie tell the truth.

You who know me,

be ignorant of me, and those who have not known me,

let them know me.

I am knowledge and ignorance.

I am shame and fearlessness.

I am shameless and ashamed.

I am strength and fear.

I am war and peace.

Hear what I say.

I am the disgraced and the grand being.

Consider my poverty and wealth.

Don’t be arrogant when I am cast down on the earth,

and you will find me in those who are to come.

Don’t stare at me lying on a dung heap.

Don’t run off and cast me away.

In the kingdoms you will find me.

Don’t stare when I am cast with the disgraced

in the most sordid places

or laugh at me.

Don’t throw me out among those violently slaughtered.

I am compassionate and cruel.

Be careful.

Don’t hate my obedience

or love my self-control.

When I am weak, don’t forsake me

or fear my power.

Why do you despise my fear

and curse my pride?

I am a woman existing in every fear

and in my strength when I tremble.

I am a woman, weak,

and carefree in a pleasant place.

I am senseless and wise.

Why have you hated me in your counsels?

I will be silent among the silent

and appear and speak.

Greeks, why do you hate me?

Because I am a barbarian among the barbarians?

I am the wisdom of Greeks and knowledge of barbarians.

I am the judgment of Greeks and barbarians.

My image is great in Egypt, and I have no image among the barbarians.

I am hated everywhere and loved everywhere.

I am called life and you have called me death.

I am called law and you have called me lawlessness.

I am one you pursued and seized.

I am one you scattered and gathered together.

I am one before whom you are ashamed,

and to me you are shameless.

I am the woman who attends no festival

and whose festivals are many.

I am godless and one whose god is great.

I am one you studied and you scorn me.

I am unlettered and you learn from me.

I am one you despise and you study me.

I am one you hide from and you appear to me.

When you hide I show.

When you appear I hide. . . .

Take me into understanding from grief,

and take me from understanding and grief.

Receive me into yourselves from other places

ugly and destroyed.

And steal from the good even in their ugliness.

Out of shame take me to yourselves shamelessly.

Without shame and with shame, rebuke what is mine

in you

and come to me, you who know me

and you who know my members,

and make great ones among small first creatures.

Come to childhood

and don’t despise it, because it is small and tiny.

Don’t turn away the great in parts from the small,

for the small is known from the great.

Why do you curse and honor me?

You wound me and have mercy.

Don’t separate me from the first you have known.

Don’t cast out or turn away,

turn away and not know. . . .

I know the first ones,

and those after them know me.

I am perfect mind and rest. . . .

I am the knowledge of my search,

the finding of those who look for me,

the command of those who ask about me,

the power of powers

in my knowledge of angels sent at my word,

and of gods in their seasons sent by my counsel,

and of spirits of all who exist with me

and of women who live in me.

I am one who is honored, praised, and scornfully despised.

I am peace, and war has come because of me.

I am alien and citizen.

I am the substance and one without substance.

Those unconnected to me are unfamiliar with me,

and those in my substance know me.

Those close to me are ignorant of me,

and those far away have known me.

On the day I am close to you, you are far,

and on the day I am far, I am close to you.

I am . . . within.

I am . . . of natures.

I am . . . of created spirits,

the request of souls.

I am control and the uncontrollable.

I am union and dissolution.

I abide and dissolve.

I am below and they come up to me.

I am judgment and acquittal.

I am sinless,

and the root of sin comes from me.

I am lust outwardly, yet within me is control.

I am hearing for all, and my speech is indecipherable.

I am an unspeaking mute

and enormous in my many words.

Hear me in gentleness and discover me in roughness.

I am the woman crying out

and cast upon the face of the earth.

I prepare bread and my mind within.

I am the knowledge of my name.

I am the one who cries out

and I listen.

I appear . . . walk in . . . I am . . . the defense.

I am called truth and iniquity. . . .

You honor me and whisper against me.

You, the vanquished, judge those who vanquish you

before they judge you,

because in you the judge and partiality exist.

If you are condemned by one, who will acquit you?

If acquitted by him, who will arrest you?

What is in you is outside,

and one who fashions you on the outside

shapes you inside.

What you see outside you see within you.

It is visible and your garment.

Hear me, hearers,

and find out about my words, you who know me.

I am the hearing all can reach;

I am speech undecipherable.

I am the name of the sound

and the sound of the name.

I am the sign of the letter

and the designation of the division.

I . . . light . . . great power . . . will not move the name . . .

to the one who created me.

I will speak his name.

Look at his words and all the writings completed.

Be alert, hearers and angels and those sent

and you spirits arisen from the dead.

I alone exist and have no one to judge me.

Many pleasures exist in many sins,

uncontrolled passions and disgraceful desires

and brief pleasures

embraced by people until they sober up

and float up to their place of rest.

There they will find me and live, and they will not die again.

Friday, May 14, 2021

The Kingdom of Astonishment

This is not the spiritually materialist mindfulness practiced by corporations seeking to improve employee productivity. This is not the sterile “peacefulness” that helps you better accommodate oppression. No, this is ecstatic participation with the natural world. This is the inter-penetrative experience of awe that only occurs when you realize the world is a polyphony of aliveness. “Split a piece of wood. I am there. Life up the stone and you will find me there,” instructs Jesus. The “me” he speaks of is not himself, but the kingdom of astonishment. The fragrant pith of the cedarwood entering your nostrils is the kingdom. The awe you feel at the moonlight-silvered grub under the stone is the secret gospel. 

We live in a moment when we are woefully blind to the kingdom. Sensory gating, the neurological process of filtering out “redundant” stimuli from our sensual experience to create a homogenized reality, has been tightened by patriarchy and civilization. We quite literally do not see “what is in front of our faces”. Reading stories of miracles in older texts we laugh at our ancestor’s “belief” in magic. But what if the magic was still there? As we codify expectations, we limit our ability to experience surprise and awe. In short, it gets harder and harder to change our minds and experience the marvel under a stone or in a piece of wood. We expect the ordinary, and receive it in return, growing increasingly despondent each day, even when just beyond our blinders mountains move and kingdoms explode from mustard seeds. Lucky that our brains are malleable. There are still methods of “dilating” into greater participation with the divine animacy of the natural world.

- Sophie Strand


Friday, April 2, 2021

Meanderings around sweetness and sarcasm

Esteemed Gentlemen,

I am a poor, young, unemployed person in the business field, my name is Wenzel, I am seeking a suitable position, and I take the liberty of asking you, nicely and politely, if perhaps in your airy, bright, amiable rooms such a position might be free. . . . Large and difficult tasks I cannot perform, and obligations of a far-reaching sort are too strenuous for my mind. I am not particularly clever, and first and foremost I do not like to strain my intelligence overmuch. . . . Assuredly there exists in your extensive institution, which I imagine to be overflowing with main and subsidiary functions and offices, work of the kind that one can do as in a dream? — I am, to put it frankly, a Chinese; that is to say, a person who deems everything small and modest to be beautiful and pleasing, and to whom all that is big and exacting is fearsome and horrid.

- Robert Walser, from "Job Application”

Monday, March 1, 2021

Playing with Children

 Early spring

The landscape is tinged with the first

fresh hints of green

Now I take my wooden begging bowl

And wander carefree through town

The moment the children see me

They scamper off gleefully to bring their friends

They’re waiting for me at the temple gate

Tugging from all sides so I can barely walk

I leave my bowl on a white rock

Hang my pilgrim’s bag on a pine tree branch

First we duel with blades of grass

Then we play ball

While I bounce the ball, they sing the song

Then I sing the song and they bounce the ball

Caught up in the excitement of the game

We forget completely about the time

Passersby turn and question me:

"Why are you carrying on like this?"

I just shake my head without answering

Even if I were able to say something

how could I explain?

Do you really want to know the meaning of it all?

This is it! This is it!

- Ryōkan