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I could take
two leaves
and give you one.

Would that not be
a kind of perfection?

But I prefer
one leaf
torn to give you half
showing

(after these years, simply)
love’s complexity in an act,
the tearing and
the unique edges —

one leaf (one word) from the two
imperfections that match.

– HAYDEN CARRUTH –

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DEMAND IT COURAGEOUSLY

Make some room for yourself, human animal.

Even a dog jostles about on his master’s lap to

improve his position. And when he needs space he

runs forward, without paying attention to commands

or calls.

If you didn’t manage to receive freedom as a gift,

demand it as courageously as bread and meat.

Make some room for yourself, human pride and

dignity.

The Czech writer Hrabal said:

I have as much freedom as I take.

by Julia Hartwig

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THE FALL ALMOST NOBODY SEES

Everybody’s gone away.
They think there’s nothing left to see.
The garish colors’ flashy show is over.
Now those of us who stay
hunker down in sweet silence,
blessed emptiness among

red-orange shadblow
purple-red blueberry
copper-brown beech
gold tamarack, a few
remaining pale yellow
popple leaves,
sedge and fern in shades
from beige to darkening red
to brown to almost black,
and all this in front of, below,
among blue-green spruce and fir
and white pine,

all of it under gray skies,
chill air, all of us waiting
in the somber dank and rain,
waiting here in quiet, chill
November,
waiting for the snow.

– David Budbill –

 

 

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Out of life comes death,

and out of death, life.

Out of the young, the old,

and out of the old, the young.

Out of waking, sleep,

and out of sleep, waking.

The stream of creation and dissolution

never stops.

Heraclitus in The Circle of Life

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“So how do we celebrate impermanence, suffering, and egolessness in our everyday lives? When impermanence presents itself in our lives, we can recognize it as impermanence. We don’t have to look for opportunities to do this. When your pen runs out of ink in the middle of writing an important letter, recognize it as impermanence, part of the whole cycle of life. When someone’s born, recognize it as impermanence. When someone dies, recognize it as impermanence. When your car gets stolen, recognize it as impermanence. When you fall in love, recognize it as impermanence, and let that intensify the preciousness. When a relationship ends, recognize it as impermanence. There are countless examples of impermanence in our lives every day, from the moment we wake up until we fall asleep and even while we’re dreaming, all the time. This is a twenty-four hour a-day practice. Recognize impermanence as impermanence.”

– PEMA CHODRON –

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On May 23, my sweet friend Marja departed from this life. She was courageous, graceful, thoughtful and humble. A deeply spiritual woman–mother, sister, daughter, wife, friend. She let go gradually and, in the process, she brought together a community. She planned her own memorial service which included a farewell letter to all who were assembled to celebrate her life. Her message was embodied in her son’s performance of “Let it Be.”

I have entered the time of life when good-byes are increasing. When the reality of impermanence is inescapable. When I am learning more and more how to love what is mortal and when the time comes, to let it go.

IN BLACKWATER WOODS

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

– MARY OLIVER –

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Today, reading again Cold Mountain Poems by Gary Snyder. Remembering reading them so long ago, backpacking in the Gila Wilderness with my dear friend Tom. Day one, a twelve mile hike scrambling up and down through canyon after canyon. Early fall, rocks still radiant with summer heat; the smell of Ponderosa pines–tall, straight, cinnamon-colored bark; Cooper’s hawks circling, sky empty and enormous.

In twilight, cradled in a soft meadow, reading the first line…”The path to Han-shan’s place is laughable…” I felt a shimmer of recognition; something ancient, something present, something familiar without words…Poem 1.

The path to Han-shan’s place is laughable,

A path, but no sign of cart or horse,

Converging gorges–hard to trace their twists

Jumbled cliffs–unbelievably rugged.

A thousand grasses bend with dew,

A hill of pines hums in the wind.

And now I’ve lost the shortcut home,

Body asking shadow, how do you keep up?

I was then, thirty nine years ago, a Buddhist–or perhaps better said, a student of mindfulness–in the making. That southwestern earth was my great teacher, my Cold Mountain introduction. The luminous night sky opened my heart-mind. Free of suburban expectations and ennui, I learned the braille of nature. I walked the ditch banks of Corrales, sat in hot springs, climbed Pecos Baldy, kayaked the Green River, picked wild flowers in the Uinta Mountains. Time was vast in a way that I’ve almost forgotten. Life was fantastically simple.

I’ve lived at cold Mountain–how many autumns.

Alone, I hum a song–utterly without regret.

Hungry, I eat one grain of Immortal medicine

Mind solid and sharp; leaning on a stone.

I lived without running water and electricity; I lived with cold running water from a red metal hand pump that drained into a stationary sink, electricity, a wood stove, an outhouse and a party line; I lived in an army mess tent that cost $5.00 that was 20 x 30 with a 17 foot ridge pole. I planted a garden, I baked bread in my wood cook stove, I made yogurt, I bathed in Las Huertas creek. I played my flute, I meditated, went to Kirtan, watched the sun rise and set, I watched the moon rise over Sandia Peak and set behind the Black Mesa.

My home was at Cold Mountain from the start,

Rambling among the hills, far from trouble.

Gone, and a million things leave no trace

Loosed, and it flows through the galaxies

A fountain of light, into the very mind–

Not a thing, and yet it appears before me:

Now I know the pearl of the Buddha-nature

Know its use: a boundless perfect sphere.

– GARY SNYDER –

I recognize that what was home then, lives in me now. Life is both complicated, laughable and deeply lovable.

 

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