Monthly Archives: March 2012

Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
You must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

-Naomi Shihab Nye

Do not stand at my grave and weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

Mary Elizabeth Frye

Inspirational quote attributed to Goethe

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

Attributed to Goethe

“First They Came for the Jews”

“First They Came for the Jews”
By Pastor Niemoller

First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.




Zen does not depend on any particular scripture.

The whole world is a scripture in zen…the

screech of the blue jay, the sounds of the cars on

the highway, laughter, the autumn storm, the radio.


If you want to understand the teaching of

water, just drink.


Even though we practice like this day after day,

we cannot call this Buddha’s practice. All we can

say is this is the way which has no beginning and

no end.

Zongzhi says…



Hongzhi presents it this way: “Silently and serenely one forgets all words. Clearly and vividly, that appears before you. When one realizes it, it is vast and without edges. In its essence one is clearly aware. Singularly reflecting is this bright awareness, full of wonder is this pure reflection. Dew and the moon, stars and streams, snow on pine trees, and clouds hovering on the mountain peaks. From darkness, they all become glowingly bright. From obscurity they all turn to resplendent light.” We need to see this great Earth filled with wonder.

Dogen’s appreciation of that mystical dimension of the world around him is beautifully expressed in this passage: “Trees and rocks flourish and abound, and the birds and the beasts take on a supernatural excellence.” It is important to see that supernatural excellence for ourselves. That’s what Zhaozhou is imploring us to do. I want you to see into this! How do you understand? You should ask yourself this question every day. How do you see it? How do you understand it?

On Rememberance by Rainer Maria Rilke

…there are those people who are still looking. Looking for places and crowds, maybe in the end – looking for themselves. Sometimes it makes me wonder if they don’t feel at home anywhere because they don’t feel at home with themselves. To love others you have to love yourself. But when traveling, you still collect experiences and every once in awhile you might see a glimpse into your distant past and for a moment think ‘maybe that was me’ like in the Rilke poem below that inspired me to write this post today.


And you wait, keep waiting for that one thing
which would infinitely enrich your life:
the powerful, uniquely uncommon,
the awakening of dormant stones,
depths that would reveal you to yourself.

In the dusk you notice the book shelves
with their volumes in gold and in brown;
and you think of far lands you journeyed,
of pictures and of shimmering gowns
worn by women you conquered and lost.

And it comes to you all of a sudden:
That was it! And you arise, for you are
aware of a year in your distant past
with its fears and events and prayers.

                                                                  – Rainer Maria Rilke
With thanks to Annika Ruohonen’s blog:

On a poem by Basho



We can only perceive the suchness of things through an awareness that opens to them nonconceptually and unconditionally, allowing them to reveal themselves in their as-it-is-ness. As the poet Basho suggests:

From the pine tree

Learn of the pine tree

And from the bamboo

of the bamboo.

Commenting on these lines, the Japanese philosopher Nishitani (1982) explains that Basho does not mean

That we should ‘observe the pine tree carefully.’ Still less does he mean for us to ‘study the pine tree scientifically.’ He means for us to enter the mode of being where the pine tree is the pine tree itself, and the bamboo is the bamboo itself, and from there to look at the pine tree and the bamboo. He calls on us to betake ourselves to the dimension where things become manifest in their suchness.

The City by Cavafy

The City

By C. P. Cavafy

You said: “I’ll go to another country, go to another shore,
find another city better than this one.
Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong
and my heart lies buried like something dead.
How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
Wherever I turn, wherever I look,
I see the black ruins of my life, here,
where I’ve spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally.”
You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
This city will always pursue you.
You’ll walk the same streets, grow old
in the same neighborhoods, turn gray in these same houses.
You’ll always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:
there’s no ship for you, there’s no road.
Now that you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,
you’ve destroyed it everywhere in the world.



C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems
Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard

Hidden Things by Cavafy

Hidden Things by Cavafy

From all I did and all I said,
let them not seek to find who I was.
It stood an obstacle in my way this, altering
my actions and my way of life.
This stood an obstacle in my way, stopping me
all the times I wanted to speak out.
My most unnoticed actions,
discreet writings, those most disguised—
from these alone they’ll understand me.
But maybe it’s not worth so much care,
all this effort just to know what and who I am.
A long time from now—in a more perfect world—
some other made like me will appear
and, to be sure, he will act freely.

Trans. John Chioles