Wednesday 30 October 2013

Time to dance

Standing on a precipice
ready to jump
or fall into
Does the leaf willingly jump
or is it pushed?
Does the rain willingly fall
or is it encouraged on its way?

The leaf prepares itself
by dressing in its most gorgeous
autumn colours,
waiting for its time
to dance.
Does it jump or fall?
It lets go.

The rain prepares itself
by filling the cloud with fullness
until its bursts forth
in a joyous dance
of letting go.

I prepare myself
with hours of meditation,
of practising being free,
being one
until the time comes
when I
stand on a precipice
ready to jump
or fall into

Letting go.

© 29 Oct 2013

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Many skies, one space

So many skies
within one space.
Here a clear blue, summer sky
with minimal clouds,
over here
the rain clouds are gathering,
gloomy, portentous, solid-looking.
Over here the sun lights up the scenery
brightening everything.
So many skies
within one space,
changing as we walk.
the ominous ferocity of rainclouds
has diminished,
their dense blackness reduced to
a dull grey
and even now they are being chased down
by the sun.
So many skies
within one space.
Which perspective do you choose?

© 28 Oct 2013

A storm rages outside

A storm rages outside
but inside
the heart is calm.
The sea’s waves are choppy and turbulent
but at its depth
all is an unmoving calm.
Leaves are violently shaken
from their trees,
winds stir them into a circling frenzy,
rain beats wildly against the window panes
but inside
the heart is calm.
Waves roll in every direction
pulling unsuspecting boats
this way and that
but at its depth
all is an unmoving calm.

The tree’s roots
are not disturbed by the shaking branches.
A mountain’s solidity
is not touched
by the passing seasons and
stormy weather that rattles
round its ears.
The sea’s depth
is not taken
with the rolling, unending
movement of the waves.

Why should my heart be shaken
by the movements of the mind?
Watch them come,
watch them go,
but don’t dance with them,
they are not your dancing partner.
Watch them come,
watch them go,
from a depth
that is unmoving calm.

© 27 Oct 2013

Sunday 27 October 2013

A glass of light

The glass of water
with a candle behind it
receives the light
diffuses the light
through its whole being
and magnanimously
radiates the light.

The glass of water
with a candle behind it
receives the light
without preference
judgment or selection.
Receives it all
and passes it on.

May I be the water
still and unmoving
full of light
and radiating light
to all corners
of the darkened room.

May I be the glass
receiving the light
in fullness,
without preference,
sharing the light freely.
Receiving it all
and passing it on.

© 27 Oct 13

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Be free where you are

In my current research on mindfulness in early Buddhism I am comparing it with what Thay says about mindfulness. In doing so I came across this quotation about poetry, which concurs so exactly with my understanding of writing poetry, which for me has come out of practising mindfulness. This quote of Thay's comes from a book called 'Be Free Where You Are', a very small book of only 70 pages which is a transcript of a talk Thay gave in 1999 to inmates in a prison in America. Although the teachings are very much what he offers in his Dharma talks from Plum Village they have a lot of poignancy when one considers his audience, and that he is saying to them, you can be free where you are. And he is saying this to us as well, because we can so easily get caught in the prison of our minds, believing we will only be happy once we have achieved ... (insert here your personal 'to get' list - a nice house, a bigger car, a family, a better job, that one dress, those particular shoes etc.). Be free where you are indicates that only in the present moment can we know true, unconditioned freedom.
Last night I was teaching on an MBSR course and it became clear that impatience is a quality we all struggle with, we have forgotten how to be in the present moment and so are always looking forward to what is coming next, which often expresses itself as 'I'm bored with this, there are so many other things I could be doing' or 'why don't they see it from my point of view and agree with me?'. I read an email yesterday which evoked in me a strong rush of impatience and a sense of 'when are people going to catch up and realise I'm right?' As I sat with this thought I recognised it is a strong habit energy for me, and it stops me from hearing another's perspective. Who's to say that my way is the best way?
I realise that I have slightly wandered off the point but it struck me that 'be free where you are' is such an important statement. It is an invitation to stop ruminating and start noticing what is actually happening around us, the many things we have to be grateful for, the many achievements we have already made, the beauty of life that surrounds us in every moment which we miss as we hurtle, blinkered, through life always looking for the next moment of gratification.
And here is what Thay says about his poetry, which is exactly what I say about mine.
'my poetry is something that happens throughout the day. When I water the vegetables or wash the dishes, poetry is born in me. When I sit down at the writing table, all I do is deliver the poems. Poetry comes as an inspiration and is the fruit of my mindful living. After a poem is born, I may realise that it helped me. The poem is like a "bell of mindfulness". Sometimes you need to reread a poem you have written because it takes you back to  wonderful experience - it reminds you of the beauty available inside of you and all around you. So a poem is a flower you offer to the world, and at the same time, it is a bell of mindfulness for you to remember the presence of beauty in your daily life' :66.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

What does the heart say?

An incessant rumbling voice
that narrates its own story of life,
which is not quite as it should be.
A gentle twisting of the stomach
that suggests all is not well,
although what is well is unclear.
a niggling disquiet
that can find no satisfaction or rest
with whatever task is before me.
All these aspects of dukkha
are contingent on being human,
but only recognise the earthly,
historical dimension.
All these aspects of dukkha
are what the mind has to declare,
forthrightly, vehemently, indignantly.
What does the heart say?

The whisperings of the heart
are deliberately quiet,
only to be heard in
peace and emptiness,
once the unremitting chatter
of the mind has fallen away.
The whisperings of the heart
are deliberately quiet,
only to be heard in the silence
which the mind cannot penetrate.
The whisperings of the heart,
deliberately quiet,
can sweep away dissatisfaction,
unease and discontent
like a sword of truth
cutting through ignorance
and reveal only insubstantiality,
incoherence and confused dreams,
melting on awakening.

The whisperings of the heart,
deliberately quiet,
yet sound full of clarity,
honesty and resonance.
Be still my mind!
You fakers called dissatisfaction,
unease and discontent
with puffed up self-importance
and malingering bombasticity.
Be still
and let the heart whisper,
weaving a net of goodness
to take away the lies.
Be still
and let the heart speak,
let the heart sing.

© 22/10/13