Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The ocean of bliss

How long will we spend
paddling in the shallows
before we are prepared
to risk diving deep?

The ocean of bliss
calls constantly to us

The proliferation of
seashells and soft, soft sand
is beguiling to a mind
caught up with noise.

Only in the depths
beneath the turbulent and
constantly moving sea
will we find
the centre
that is ever still.

© 20 June 08

What are you choosing to look at?

Yesterday as I drove out of my village I noticed lots of litter on one side of the road. There seems to be a lot around at the moment, possibly because of the wind. On the other side was a bank of snowdrops. It became a perfect analogy for me of living mindfully and noticing what we notice, as well as what the mind says about it.
Looking at the litter there is a lot of mental activity and a lot of judgement about people who leave the litter, people who aren't cleaning it up etc.
Looking at the snowdrops the mind is quiet, just taking in the beautiful scene and enjoying it.
We can make a definite choice not only about what we see but also how we receive it, and notice whether it brings the mind to stillness or increases the mental activity.
What are you choosing to look at today?

Monday, 23 February 2015


On a retreat last week we spoke about waiting at the beginning of meditation. Waiting in terms of not doing anything but just resting with the breath and seeing what happen. I found it a really useful and helpful means of moving into meditation and now back home it reminds me of Shamatha, a Buddhist type of meditation, usually translated as stopping and calming and often a precursor to Vipashyana, looking deeply or insight. It's not a case of waiting for anything, as that seems to imply one is lacking something but just waiting, something we can find very hard to do in a fast-moving, driven society.
I have written a couple of poems about waiting which I share with you here.

Where is the waiting?

In the depths of sinking
at the end of each out-breath,
in the peak of rising
at the end of each in-breath,
in the undulating space
between in-breath and out-breath,
in the seemingly ever-growing stillness
as the mind falls quiet,
in the oneness that emanates
from this community of lovers,
in the meditating heart.
© 16 Feb 15

And what does it mean to wait?

To rest
to be completely at peace
ready to receive
ready to hear.
Taking the force and push
out of actions
letting things unfold
in their own way.
Stopping running, planning 
looking forward.

And what does it mean to wait?
being here now
making friends with the present moment
ready to receive
ready to hear
the whisperings of the heart.
© 17 Feb 15

Thursday, 12 February 2015

What if ...

What if
we started living
as if we were dying?

Not in despair or hopelessness
but with a childlike delight
of savouring each moment
as if it will never come again
because one day, it won’t.

What if
we started living
as if we were dying?

Tasting a snowflake
meeting the fly crawling across my book
jumping in puddles
delighting in rainbows
and never forgetting to say
‘I love you’
while the opportunity is here.

One day
all this will be gone.
And will it be gone
before we’ve even experienced it?

Will we meet death
we have sleepwalked though life
with our eyes and ears closed
to its miracles?

Will we meet death
as a welcome friend
whose warm embrace
is comforting?

Will we meet death
as at the end of a long day
when we have given
all we could give
and tiredness is a good sign
of running on empty?

Let’s start living
as if we were dying.

© 2 Feb 15

Sunday, 1 February 2015

What is emptiness?

‘I am standing water,
teach me how to flow’*.

Emptiness is a clear jar
full of possibilities
unsullied by swirling thoughts,
notions and ideas.

Emptiness is a still lake
undisturbed by stirrings
in its depth, not
‘muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty’**
but calm, unruffled, untouched
by mundane cares of the world.

Emptiness is fullness,
full of infinite space
not bound by time or restrictions.
Full of light
that diminishes shadows.

Emptiness is a quiet mind
unaffected by the roller-coaster
turbulence of emotions and
attention-grabbing thoughts.

Emptiness is putting down ‘me’
and all the baggage that accompanies it.

Emptiness is waking up to ‘I’
and all the glorious uncertainty that entails.

Emptiness is a still heart.

* adapted from Shakespeare
** Shakespeare

© 1 Feb 15