Monday, 21 July 2014

Growing side by side

 We are all bound together
on a life raft called Earth.
When fighting breaks out
in one corner of the raft
it affects us all
as the whole raft becomes
unsteady, unsafe.
There is no use blaming,
there is no use asking who started it.
The seeds of war go back many generations.

The seeds of peace are also present
growing side by side
with seeds of anger, hate, resentment.
Like the poppies in Flanders fields
they intertwine
springing from the same root.
In the midst of fighting
are those who want peace
seek for understanding instead of accusation
offer love instead of fear and confusion.

When we know
when we all know
the fighting hurts ourselves
more than those we call
other, the enemy
then our bombs and weapons
can be laid down.
Hands will offer friendship
instead of pain and destruction.
Hearts will be open
instead of closed off, cold.

When we know
when we truly know
your pain is my pain
your happiness is my happiness
we can let go of the seeds of
fighting injustice, seeking revenge,
let them go back to sleep.
We can awaken seeds of peace
we can awaken seeds of love.
We can look up and see
 we are all bound together
on a life raft called Earth.
We can only live if we live together.

© 20 July 14

Growing side by side audio

Friday, 18 July 2014

Let’s approach the things that scare us

In one of the sessions on the Mindfulness and Poetry retreat we were looking at the things that we are resistant to or the shadow side of things, that we often want to block out or not admit to. At first I found that nothing came to mind, but what came out instead was this poem abut the process of what we were doing.

Let’s approach the things that scare us.
The dark, foreboding Pandora’s box
that sits menacingly blocking the path ahead.
It cannot be avoided or got around.
Having come this far I cannot turn back.
Reluctantly I creep forward.
If each footstep lasted an hour
is there a chance of never reaching it?

The problem is, I think I already know
what is inside.
I think I know the scary forces
that will furiously fly out
once the lid is lifted.
Once opened, can it be shut again?
Will they ever go back inside?

Having come this far I cannot turn back.
Yet I find myself shaking uncontrollably,
tears streaming down my cheeks.
One last effort to avoid the inevitable.
Perhaps it will be cathartic
to release my fears.
Perhaps in the daylight
those giant monsters in my head
will reveal themselves as
feeble, insignificant, tiny.

There is only one way to find out.
Step up, man up, take courage.
It probably won’t be as bad as I predict.
The giant monsters that fill my thoughts
have already ballooned
out of all proportion.
Reality cannot be as bad as this.

I double-check no one is watching.
Revealing my insecurities, doubts
to myself is bad enough,
I wouldn’t want anyone else to see
my failings, my weaknesses,
or recognise me for the charlatan I am.

Step up, man up, take courage.
It cannot be avoided.
The box is ancient and heavy
the lid stiff and unyielding.
It takes some effort to lift.
I realise I have closed my eyes
wish I could close my ears too.

Bravely I lift the lid with two hands.
There is a sigh, a gasp
like air escaping,
yet nothing comes forth
to bowl me over or terrify me.
I look deep into the murky recesses.
A layer of dust covers the base.
I have already faced everything
I fear, or worse, imagined I fear.
The box is empty.

© 12 July 14

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Where is the poem I want to write?

On the Mindfulness and poetry retreat we had lots of opportunities to write poems. In the first session we were given a list of basic practices to consider, means of getting us into shaping a poem. But as we sat by ourselves ready to write nothing came to mind. I did find this rather hilarious! Here we are finally giving ourselves the time and space to do nothing but write poetry and my mind was blank. Well, not entirely. So here is what came instead.

Where is the poem I want to write?
It is elusive, shadowy, vague and
not at all willing to be seen
in the light of mindfulness.

Mind is empty.
Words have slipped beyond its reach,
fallen off the page of the book and
danced off into the ether.

This is not what I wanted to say.
I meant to express some great insight,
some humorous tale in witty aphorisms
and a punchy conclusion.

I sit and wait, wait and sit
as all the words lurk in shadowy corners,
unwilling to show themselves.

All I can do is be patient,
laugh at my endeavours.
Perhaps if I am quiet and still
those shy words will feel brave
enough to reveal themselves.
© 11 July 14

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Dive into silence

This is the last of the poems from the Plum Village 21-day retreat. I have just put together a little book of the poems.
However, tomorrow I am going to Binley Farm in Glos
to co-lead a retreat on Mindfulness and Poetry so hopefully that will yield a few poems.
I hope you are enjoying these offerings. Feel free to leave comments at the end of the posts :)

Dive into silence.
Let it wash over you,
into and through you,
washing away
thoughts of otherness.
Let it cleanse
every cell of your being,
watering seeds of interbeing
until there is no difference.
You are become silence.
© 21 June 14

Sunday, 6 July 2014

The earth protects herself

This morning we had a silent morning at our house and we went for a walk as part of it. By the river, through the woods and through a village. I was very in touch with the earth beneath our feet and the sense that the earth has all the knowledge and wisdom to protect herself as well as providing for all those who live on her. And so this poem came together from the walk.

I am the bounteous, beautiful
green earth
breathing out great love and beauty,
yielding food and shade and protection,
places for quiet reflection
places full of awe and wonder.

I am the nurturing, protecting
green earth
breathing in toxins, pollutants and waste
recycling into useful energy
remaking the compost to
nourish new plants and flowers.

I am the bounteous, beautiful
green earth
breathing out my endless forgiveness
to all who walk upon me.

I am the nurturing, protecting
green earth
breathing in a time of rest
creating a fallow period of retreat.

Breathing out,
see my beauty and loveliness,
an abundance of colour, form and shape.

Breathing in,
appreciate a quiet phase,
resting, nourishing, preparing.

Walk my paths
swim my rivers
catch my scent
eat my produce.
Breathe out with me.
Breathe in with me.

© 6 July 2014

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Mind is a great storyteller

Mind is a great storyteller
weaving imaginary disasters,
great happenings,
in which I am always
at the centre, triumphing.

Mind is a great storyteller
depicting moments that will never happen,
worst-case scenarios,
tragedies that never take place.

This is not harmless daydreaming
the mind is creating pathways
in which the worst is assumed,
things always go wrong.

I propose for mind to be quiet,
to let the world unfold in its own way
and to be able to see
what is actually happening
instead of our strong imaginings.

I propose for mind to be still
enough to recognise
the great joys that are taking place
around us, each moment, and
not to focus on potential catastrophes
that usually don’t occur.

Be still, o mind, and
let the cosmos speak.
© 18 June 14

Friday, 4 July 2014

The Buddhas are waiting for us

The Buddhas are waiting for us
as we move from the hot, sunny path
towards cool and welcome shade.
We edge slowly towards them
savouring each moment,
as if playing Grandmother’s Footsteps.

Will one of them awaken and see us?
They are already awakened.
They already see our true natures.
“Come on over to our side” they call
from the Ultimate dimension.
They already see us as we truly are
they are waiting for us to realise.

Making each footstep carefully,
stopping to notice the dance
of butterflies and dragonflies,
the blossoming of sweet peas en route,
the dimensions dissolve,
merging together.
There is no ‘over there’ or ‘over here’
there is only here and now.
The Buddhas no longer have to wait for us,
we are also there.
© 17 June 14

Thursday, 3 July 2014

I walked in the garden

I walked in the garden
asking my teachers to teach me
all their different qualities.

The trees replied,
our trunks can teach you strength and
our branches flexibility.
You need to know your core stability
and breathe into it in many fearful situations.
You also need to know when to bend
with the winds of change,
as resisting will easily break you.

The rose replied,
I can teach you
how to let your inner light shine
for everyone you meet
just by being yourself.
I do not hold back my loveliness
to share with a few,
but let everyone enjoy.

The honeysuckle replied,
I can teach you generosity.
I give up my fragrance willingly
to every being who passes by,
not only those I deem worthy.

The earth replied,
I can teach you acceptance.
I accept whatever offering
is poured into me,
whether it is toxic or cleansing.
I accept it all and reject none.

The insects replied,
we can teach you
how to move beyond the limiting concepts of duality.
If you find this a difficult teaching to learn
we will bite, sting and annoy you
like a Zen stick,
until you are ready to see
there is no good or bad.

The frogs and crickets replied,
we can teach you patience and true seeing.
We create a distracting, noisy chatter
persistent and interrupting,
until you learn to hear it as a song of love,
singing in harmony
with your own true nature.

My eyes are full of tears of gratitude
as I walk in the garden,
from one teaching to the next.
© 14 June 14

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Transmission day

At the dawning of this day
the air is still cool.
The full moon hangs
as a lantern
in a silent sky,
the sun is still rising.
Today is a day full of potentialities,
possibilities as any other day
yet today is transmission day.
Today I receive the fourteen
Mindfulness Trainings.
At the noon of this day
the sun is full yet
the breeze is kind and soothing.
We have listened to our teacher
answering heartfelt questions
with wisdom, deep practice and a smile.
In the afternoon of this day
the energy of the Sangha
practising together washes over us
as cleansing water
sweeping away fear and
preparing us
to receive our true names.
At the eve of this day,
the day full of potentialities,
the Temple bell signifies
the closing of the day.
I embrace my Dharma name,
wondering how I will bring it to life.
It is a great aspiration
I hold dear in my heart.
(True Mountain of Non-Fear).
© 14 June 14

This is my Dharma hall

In being outside so much at Plum Village I really began to get in touch with nature and you'll notice a lot of the poems reflect that.

This is my Dharma hall

I let go of the human body
I embrace the cosmos body.
I enjoy the cosmos body
with all its fullness and delights.
This is my Dharma hall
here I will sit, walk and breathe.
This is my Dharma hall,
here I will enjoy my meditation.
© 13 June 2014

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Joining the Buddha statues

Sitting here
the Buddhas statues are still
exuding peace and compassion.
The insects and midges are dancing
in the lazy evening air.
The trees serenade us
as the wind plays their branches
like a harp.
The gentle murmur of conversation
floats on the light evening breeze.
The time of meditation draws near.
Everything moves towards a gentle quiet,
joining the Buddhas in peace and compassion.
© 11 June 2014