Monday, February 28, 2011

Body Intelligence (2)

Elephant and Rider, Indian, circa 1640
Metropolitan Museum of Art

There are guides
who can show you the way.
Use them.

But they will not satisfy your longing.
Keep wanting the connection with presence
with all your pulsing energy.

The throbbing vein
will take you further
than any thinking.

Muhammed said, Do not theorize
about essence. All speculations
are just more layers of covering.
Human beings love coverings.

They think the designs on the curtains
are what is being concealed.

Observe the wonders as they occur around you.
Do not claim them. Feel the artistry
moving through, and be silent.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Body Intelligence (1)

Three Capetian French scholars
consulting an astrolabe, ca. AD 1200

Your intelligence is always with you,
overseeing your body, even though
you may not be aware of its work.

If you start doing something
against your health, your intelligence
will eventually scold you.

If it had not been so lovingly close by,
and so constantly monitoring,
how could it rebuke?

You and your body's intelligence
are like the beauty and precision
of an astrolabe.

Together, you calculate how near
existence is to the sun.

Your intelligence is marvelously intimate.
It is not in front of you or behind,
or to the left or the right.

Now, my friend, try to describe how near
is the creator of your intelligence.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Red with shyness, the red
that became all the rosegarden reds.

The red distance,
red of the stove boiling water,
red of the mountain turning bloodred,
a mountain holding rubies secretly inside.

Do I love more you
or your modesty?

Friday, February 25, 2011

My Worst Habit

My worst habit is I get so tired of winter
I become a torture to those I'm with.

If you are not here, nothing grows.
I lack clarity. My words
tangle and knot up.

How to cure bad water? Send it back to the river.
How to cure bad habits? Send me back to you.

When water gets caught in habitual whirlpools,
dig a way out through the bottom
to the ocean. There is a secret medicine
given only to those who hurt so hard
they can't hope.

The hopers would feel slighted if they knew.

Look as long as you can at the friend you love,
no matter whether that friend is moving away from you
or coming back toward you.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Red Shirt

 Portrait of the Boy Eutyches
Egyptian, A.D. 100-150

Has anyone seen the boy who used to come here?
Round-faced troublemaker, quick to find a joke, slow
to be serious. Red shirt,
perfect coordination, sly,
strong muscles, with things always in his pocket.
Reed flute, ivory pick, polished
and ready for his talent.
You know that one.

Have you heard stories about him?
Pharoah and the whole Egyptian world
collapsed for such a Joseph.
I would gladly spend years getting word
of him, even third- or fourth-hand.

* * * 

This reading is poignant for me today,
partly because of the recent triumphs in Egypt.
Today is also the 15th anniversary of the day
my redheaded (not redshirted) brother passed away at age 47;
except for the flute, every word of the first stanza is true of him!
He visited the pyramids at Giza in 1969
and took some beautiful photographs of them and the Sphinx.
I wish I had one here to scan and show you.

Bennett Williams Hart
b. June 28, 1948 d. February 24, 1996 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

When I Am with You

 The Moonrise, Mamaroneck, by Edward J. Steichen

When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you are not here, I can't go to sleep.

Praise God for these two insomnias.
And the difference between them.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Grasses

The same wind that uproots trees
makes the grasses shine.
The lordly wind loves the weakness
and the lowness of grasses.

The axe doesn't worry how thick the branches are.
It cuts them to pieces. But not the leaves.
It leaves the leaves alone.

The motion of the body, the inhaling-exhaling,
comes from the spirit, now angry, now peaceful.
Wind destroys, and wind protects.

There is no reality but God,
says the completely surrendered sheikh,
who is an ocean for all beings.
The levels of creation are straws in that ocean.

The movement of the straws comes from an agitation
in the water. When the ocean wants the straws calm,
it sends them close to shore. When it wants them
back in the deep surge, it does with them
as the wind does with the grasses.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dark Sweetness

The ground turns green. A drum begins.
Commentaries on the heart arrive in seven volumes.

The pen puts its head down
to give a dark sweetness to the page.

Planets go wherever they want.
Venus sways near the North Star.
The moon holds on to Leo.

The host who has no self is here.
We look into each other's eyes.

A child is still a child
even after it has learned the alphabet.

Solomon lifts his morning cup to the mountains.
Sit down in this pavilion,
and don't listen to religious bickering.
Be silent as we absorb the spring.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Imagining Is Like

Imagining is like feeling around
in a dark lane, or washing
your eyes with blood.

You are the truth
from foot to brow. Now,
what else would you like to know?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Talking through the Door (2)

Sala de los Secretos, The Alhambra Palace
(Whispering Chamber)
Granada, Spain
Photo from Wiki Commons

Then you asked, Where have you been most comfortable?
In the palace.

What did you see there?
Amazing things.

Then why is it so desolate?
Because all that can be taken away in a second.

Who can do that?
This clear discernment.

Where can you live safely?
In surrender.

Is there no threat of disaster?
Only what comes in your street,
inside your love.

Now silence. If I tell you more of this conversation,
those listening would leave themselves.

There would be no more door,
no roof or windows either.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Talking through the Door (1)

Patio de los Arrayanes, The Alhambra
Granada, Spain
Photo from Wiki Commons

You said, Who's at the door?
I said, Your slave.

You said, What do you want?
To see you and bow.

We talked through the door. I claimed
a great love and that I had given up
what the world gives to be in that love.

You said, Such claims require a witness.
I said, This longing, these tears.

You said, Discredited witnesses.
I said, Surely not.

You said, Who did you come with?
This majestic imagination you gave me,

Why did you come?
The musk of your wine was in the air.

What is your intention?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Worm's Waking

This is how a human being can change.
There is a worm
addicted to eating grape leaves.

Suddenly, he wakes up,
call it grace, whatever, something
wakes him, and he is no longer a worm.

He is the entire vineyard,
and the orchard too, the fruit, the trunks,
a growing wisdom and joy
that does not need to devour.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Seed Market

Can you find another market like this?
Where, with your one rose
you can buy hundreds of rose gardens?

Where, for one seed you get a whole wilderness?
For one weak breath, the divine wind?

You have been fearful of being absorbed
in the ground, or drawn up by the air.

Now your waterbead lets go
and drops into the ocean, where it came from.

This giving up is not a repenting.
It is a deep honoring of yourself.

When the ocean comes to you as a lover,
marry, at once, quickly for God's sake.

Don't postpone it. Existence has no better gift.
No amount of searching will find this.

A perfect falcon, for no reason,
has landed on your shoulder, and become yours.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Whoever's Calm and Sensible

There is a light seed grain inside.
You fill it with yourself, or it dies.

I'm caught in this curling energy. Your hair.
Whoever's calm and sensible is insane.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love's Confusing Joy

If you want what visible reality
can give, you are an employee.

If you want the unseen world,
you are not living with your truth.

Both wishes are foolish,
but you'll be forgiven for forgetting
that what you really want is
love's confusing joy.

Happy Valentine's Day

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Escaping to the Forest

The Dream, by Henri Rousseau
Some souls have gotten free of their bodies.
Do you see them? Open your eyes for those
who escape to meet with other escapees,
whose hearts associate in a way they have
of leaving their false selves
to live in a truer self.

I don't mind if my companions
wander away for a while.

They will come back like a smiling drunk.
Thirsty ones die of their thirst.

A nightingale sometimes
flies from a garden
to sing in the forest.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Evolutionary Intelligence

This groggy time we live, this is what it is like:
A man goes to sleep in the town
where he has always lived, and he dreams
he is living in another town.
He believes the reality of the dream town.

The world is that kind of sleep.
The dust of many crumbled cities
settles over us like a forgetful doze,
but we are older than those cities.

We began as a mineral. We emerged into plant life
and into the animal state. Then into being human,
and always we have forgotten our former states,
except in early spring when we almost
remember being green again.

Humankind is being led along an evolving course,
through this migration of intelligences,
and though we seem to be sleeping,
there is an inner wakefulness that directs the dream.

It will eventually startle us back
to the truth of who we are.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Water You Want

Someone may be clairvoyant, able to see
the future, and yet have very little wisdom.

Like the man who saw water in his dream,
and began leading everyone toward the mirage.

I am the one with heart-vision.
I have torn open the veil.

So they set out with him inside the dream,
while he is actually sleeping
beside a river of pure water.

Any search moves away from the spot
where the object of the quest is.

Sleep deeply wherever you are on the way.
Maybe some traveler will wake you.

Give up subtle thinking, the twofold, threefold
multiplication of mistakes.

Listen to the sound of waves within you.

You are dreaming your thirst,
when the water you want
is inside the big vein on your neck.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Water and the Moon

There is a path from me to you
that I am constantly looking for

so I try to keep clear and still
as water does with the moon.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The One Thing You Must Do

There is one thing in this world which you must never forget to do.
If you forget everything else and not this, there is nothing to worry
about, but if you remember everything else and forget this, then you
will have done nothing in your life.

It is as if a king has sent you to some country to do a task, and you
perform a hundred other services, but not the one he sent you to do.
So human beings come to this world to do particular work. That
work is the purpose, and each is specific to the person. If you don't
do it, it's as though a knife of the finest tempering were nailed into a
wall to hang things on. For a penny an iron nail could be bought to
serve for that.

Remember the deep root of your being, the presence of your lord.
Give your life to the one who already owns your breath and your
moments. If you don't, you will be like the one who takes a precious
dagger and hammers it into his kitchen wall for a peg to hold his
dipper gourd. You will be wasting valuable keenness and foolishly
ignoring your dignity and your purpose.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Pilgrimage to a Person

When you are not with close friends,
you are not in the presence.

It is sad to leave the people you travel with.
How much moreso those who remind you of God.
Hurry back to the ones protecting you.

On every trip, have only one objective,
to meet those who are friends
inside the presence.

If you stay home, keep the same purpose,
to meet the innermost presence
as it lives in people.

Be a pilgrim to the kaaba inside a human being,
and Mecca will rise into view on its own.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I Honor Those

I honor those who try
to rid themselves of any lying,
who empty the self
and have only clear being there.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Unfold Your Own Myth

Who gets up early to discover the moment light begins?
Who finds us here circling, bewildered, like atoms?
Who, like Jacob blind with grief and age,
smells the shirt of his lost son
and can see again?
Who lets a bucket down and brings up
a flowing prophet? Or like Moses goes for fire
and finds what burns inside the sunrise?

Jesus slips into a house to escape enemies,
and opens a door to the other world.
Solomon cuts open a fish, and there's a gold ring.
Omar storms in to kill the prophet
and leaves with blessings.

But don't be satisfied with stories, how things
have gone with others. Unfold
your own myth, so everyone will understand
the passage, We have opened you.

Start walking toward Shams. Your legs will get heavy
and tired. Then comes a moment of feeling
the wings you've grown, lifting.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


The Nightingale, by Grace Ndirtu, 32-second video here

Let your throat-song
be clear and strong enough

to make an emperor fall full-length,
suppliant, at the door.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Someone Digging in the Ground

May Picture, by Paul Klee

An eye is meant to see things.
The soul is here for its own joy.
A head has one use: for loving a true love.
Legs: to run after.

Love is for vanishing into the sky. The mind,
for learning what men have done and tried to do.
Mysteries are not to be solved. The eye goes blind
when it only wants to see why.

A lover is always accused of something.
But when he finds his love, whatever was lost
in the looking comes back completely changed.

On the way to Mecca, many dangers: thieves,
the blowing sand, only camel's milk to drink.

Still, each pilgrim kisses the black stone there
with pure longing, feeling in the surface
the taste of the lips he wants.

This talk is like stamping new coins. They pile up,
while the real work is being done outside
by someone digging in the ground.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Freshness

When it's cold and raining,
you are more beautiful.

And the snow brings me
even closer to your lips.

The inner secret, that which was never born,
you are that freshness, and I am with you now.

I can't explain the goings,
or the comings. You enter suddenly,

and I am nowhere again.
Inside the majesty.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Lovers Walking in the Snow (Crow and Heron)
Suzuki Harunobu (Japanese, 1725–1770)

This is no ordinary friendship.
I attend your banquet as wine attends.

Like lightning, I am an expert at dying.
Like lightning, this beauty has no language.

It makes no difference
whether I win or lose.

You sit with us in a congregation of the dead,
where one handful of dirt says,
I was once a head of hair.

Another, I was a backbone.
You say nothing.

Love comes in, I can deliver you
from yourself in this moment.

Now lover and beloved grow quiet.
My mouth is burning with sweetness.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

As Much as a Pen Knows

Do you think that I know what I'm doing?
That for one breath or half-breath I belong to myself?

As much as a pen knows what it's writing,
or the ball can guess where it's going next.