Tuesday, February 28, 2012

where we have never parted

take my hand 
feel the vital grip
that love lends to this flesh
listen to my voice
hear the catch in my throat
of awe that can't be expressed
gaze into my eyes
see tears welling up
as I recognize my long lost self in your smile
rest in my arms
find refuge in my embrace
until you know you are forever safe
join me now
where we have never parted


Monday, February 27, 2012

letting go

i catch

the maple leaf    then let

it go

John Wills
Photo:  Peter Bowers

winter morning

winter morning

without leaf or flower

the shape of the tree

L.A. Davidson

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Taste of Rain

The taste
of rain
- Why kneel?

Jack Kerouac
Photo:  Peter Bowers

A Poem in a Letter

Before death takes away what you are given,
give away what is there to give.

No dead person grieves for his death.  He mourns only what 
he didn't do.  Why did I wait?  Why did I  not....?  Why did I
neglect to...?

I cannot think of better advice to send.  I hope you like it.  
May you stay in your infinity.



Photo:  Peter Bowers

Thursday, February 23, 2012

An Undeserved Gift

In advanced age, my health worsening, 
I woke up in the middle of the night,
and experienced a feeling of happiness
so intense and perfect that in all my life
I had only felt its premonition.
And there was no reason for it
It didn't obliterate consciousness;
the past which I carried was there,
together with my grief.
And it was suddenly included,
was a necessary part of the whole.
As if a voice were repeating:
"You  can stop worrying now;
everything happened just as it had to.
You did what was assigned to you,
and you are not required anymore
to think of what happened long ago."
The peace I felt was a closing of accounts
and was connected with the thought of death.
The happiness on this side was
like an announcement of the other side.
I realized that this was an undeserved gift
and I could not grasp by what grace
it was bestowed on me.

Czeslaw Milosz
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Monday, February 20, 2012

What to Remember When Waking

What you can live wholeheartedly
will make plans enough for the vitality
hidden in your sleep.

To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden
as a gift to others.

To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.

You are not a troubled guest on this earth,
you are not an accident amidst other accidents.
You were invited from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.

Now looking through
the slanting light of the morning window
toward the mountain presence
of everything that can be,
what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?

David Whyte
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Thursday, February 16, 2012

...the best season of your life

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.

Photo:  Peter Bowers

An Ordinary Fellow

When the mind is at peace,
the world too is at peace.
Nothing real, nothing absent.
Not holding on to reality,
not getting stuck in the void,
you are neither holy nor wise, just
an ordinary fellow who has completed his work.

Layman P'ang
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Subject Tonight is Love

The subject tonight is Love

And for tomorrow night as well,

As a matter of fact

I know of no better topic

For us to discuss

Until we all 


Photo:  Peter Bowers

Becoming Human

Once a man came to me and spoke for hours about
"His great visions of God" he felt he was having.

He asked me for confirmation, saying,
"Are these wondrous dreams true?"

I replied, "How many goats to you have?"

He looked surprised and said,
"I am speaking of sublime visions
And you ask
About goats!"

And I spoke again saying,
"Yes, brother - how many do you have?"

"Well, Hafiz, I have sixty two."

"And how many wives?"
Again he looked surprised, then said, 

"How many rose bushes in your garden,
How many children,
Are your parents still alive,
Do you feed the birds in winter?"

And to all he answered.

Then I said,
"You asked me if I thought your visions were true,
I would say that they were if they  make you become
More human,

More kind to every creature and plant
That you know."

Photo:  Peter Bowers

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Purpose of Poetry

The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficult it is to remain just one person,
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
and invisible guests come in and out at will.

Czeslaw Milosz

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Walt Whitman
Song of Myself

Photo:  Peter Bowers

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Way It Is

There is a thread you follow.  It goes among
things that change.  But it doesn't change.
People wonder about what things you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can't get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and grow old.
Nothing you do can stop time's unfolding.
You don't ever let go of the thread.

William Stafford
Photo:  Peter Bowers

To Come Home to Yourself

May all that is unforgiven in you
Be released.

May your fears yield
Their deepest tranquillities.

May all that is unlived in you
Blossom into a future
Graced with love. 

John O'Donohue
Photo:  Peter Bowers


Resting happens when you do not look for rest.
Coming home means to be homeless.
The myriad places I may try to hang my hat
disappear in deepest wisdom -
No place at all!

Dorothy Hunt
Photo:  Peter Bowers

The Woodcarver

Khing, the master carver, made a bell stand
Of precious wood.  When it was finished,
All who saw it were astounded.  They said it must be
The work of spirits.
The Prince of Lu said to the master carver: 
"What is your secret?"

Khing replied:  "I am only a workman:
I have no secret.  There is only this:
When I began to think about the work you commanded
I guarded my spirit, did not expend it
On trifles, that were not to the point.
I fasted in order to set
My heart at rest.
After three days fasting,
I had forgotten gain and success.
After five days
I had forgotten praise or criticism.
After seven days
I had forgotten my body
With all its limbs.

"By this time all thought of your Highness
And of the court had faded away.
All that might distract me from the work
Had vanished.
I was collected in the single thought
Of the bell stand.

"Then I went to the forest
To see the trees in their own natural state.
When the right tree appeared before my eyes,
The bell stand also appeared in it, clearly, beyond doubt.
All I had to do was to put forth my hand
and begin.

"If I had not met this particular tree
There would have been 
No bell stand at all.

"What happened?
My own collected thought
Encountered the hidden potential in the wood; 
From this live encounter came the work
Which you ascribe to the spirits."

Chuang Tzu
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Friday, February 10, 2012


If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper.  Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper.  The cloud is essential for the paper to exist.  If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either.  So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are.  "Interbeing" is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix "inter-" with the verb "to be," we have a new verb, inter-be.

If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it.  If the sunshine is not there, the forest cannot grow.  In fact, nothing can grow.  Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper.  The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look, we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper.  And we see the wheat.  We know that the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper.  And the logger's father and mother are in it too.  When we look in this way, we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist.

Looking even more deeply, we can see we are in it too.  This is not difficult to see, because when we look at a sheet of paper, the sheet of paper is part of our perception.  Your mind is in here and mine is also. So we can say that everything is in here in this sheet of paper.  You cannot point out one thing that is not here - time, space, the earth, the rain, the heat.  Everything coexists with this sheet of paper.  That is why I think the word inter-be should be in the dictionary.  To be is to inter-be.  You cannot just be by yourself alone.  You have to inter-be with every other thing.  This sheet of paper is, because everything else is.

Suppose we try to return one of the elements to its source.  Suppose we return the sunshine to the sun.  Do you think that this sheet of paper would be possible?  No, without sunshine nothing can be.  And if we return the logger to his mother, then we have no sheet of paper either.  The fact is that this sheet of paper is made up of only 'non-paper elements.'  And if we return these non-paper elements to their sources, then there can be no paper at all.  Without non-paper elements, like mind, logger, sunshine, and so on, there will be no paper.  As thin as this sheet of paper is, it contains everything in the universe in it.  

Thich Nhat Hanh
From:  The Heart of Understanding
Commentaries on the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra
Photo:  Peter Bowers

a living silence

To deliver oneself up,
to hand oneself over,
entrust oneself completely to the silence
of a wide landscape of woods and hills,
or sea and desert; to sit still while
the sun comes up over the land
and fills its silences with light.

Few 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
From:  Thoughts in Solitude
Photo:  Peter Bowers 

Song of the Builders

On a summer morning
I sat down
on a hillside
to think about God - 

a worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
a single cricket;
it was moving grains of the

this way and that way.
How great was its energy,
how humble its effort.
Let us hope

it will always be like this,
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways
building the universe.

Mary Oliver
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Monday, February 6, 2012


stillness --

in the depths of the lake

billowing clouds

Kobayashi Issa
(1763 - 1828)
English version by David G. Lanoue
Thanks to Poetry Chaikhana 
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Friday, February 3, 2012


Q.  What is devotion?

Jean Klein:  It is being in the total absence of oneself.  
It is the deep feeling of one's homeground,
one's origin where the devotee and devoted are not two.  
In the absence of oneself there is the global feeling of our dwelling place.   
So devotion means to free ourself from what we are not.
When we are free from ourself, what we are shines.
Devotion means offering what we are not,
offering for the love of offering,
without anyone who offers anything to anyone.

Q.  What is the place of devotion in the path of knowledge?

JK.  Devotion is the driving power to understand that the seeker is the sought.
Devotion is an energy, a forefeeling that brings us to the devoted.
It is a global feeling, not fractional like thinking.
When knowledge is not integrated in our totality,
our global sensation, it remains an intellectual representation.
So devotion integrates knowledge in being knowledge.

Jean Klein
From:  The Book of Listening
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Room

A room does not turn its back on grief.
Anger does not excite it.
Before desire, it neither responds
nor draws back in fear.

Without changing expression
it takes
and gives back;
not a tuft in the mattress alters.

Windowsills evenly welcome
both heat and cold.
Radiators speak or fall silent as they must.

Doors are not equivocal.
floorboards do not hesitate or startle.
Impatience does not stir the curtains,
a bed is neither irritable or rapacious.

Whatever disquiet we sense in a room
we have brought there.

And so I instruct my ribs each morning,
pointing to hinge and plaster and wood -

You are matter, as they are.
See how perfectly it can be done.
Hold, one day more, what is asked.

Jane Hirshfield
From:  Lives of the Heart
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ask Me

Sometime when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made.  Ask me whether
what I have done is my life.  Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt:  ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait.  We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

William Stafford
Photo:  Peter Bowers