Archive for the ‘Instructions’ Category


The Way It Is

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

William Stafford


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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

(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.


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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


The Czech writer Hrabal said:

I have as much freedom as I take.

by Julia Hartwig

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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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Suddenly it’s October. Life has been on fast forward…full work schedule, full family schedule and, well, full time job reconstructing my hard drive. There are twinges of fall…small pockets of leafy color, air that is sharp and well-cleansed from torrential rains.

Coming back to blogging, I am edgy…impatient for words to flow…wondering where to start. I must pay attention to my life in a different way–to the poetic moments…some difficult; some joyful. In a sense, I must simply slow down. This morning, right now, a gentle rain. Outside, the sound of raindrops on brittle brown leaves. Inside, I sit at the dining room table looking through sliding glass doors to the woods across the driveway. The catalpa trees yellowing, the maples ever so slightly rosy-orange. There is a tiny patch of pale blue sky behind fast moving feathery gray clouds.

In a few days, I will be 62. My father is 87. My children are in their late 20’s. My grandson, who is two and a half will soon become a big brother. As I watch my father’s aging process–sometimes regressive, often filled with wisdom and acceptance–I can’t help but think that I am in the prime of my life. My physical body enjoys remarkably good health. My emotional body is generally calm and centered. My mind, sometimes alarmingly empty, can usually focus and draw on the accumulated wisdom of life experience to make decisions and solve problems. I see the incredible fragility of life. The way things can turn on a dime; the way that the physical body can transform without our consent; the way the mind can become loosely organized, tectonic plates of memory shifting and colliding. There is very little that I can say with certainty.

The one constant in my life is my practice. Sometimes on the mat and cushion. Sometimes washing dishes. In every way, life is more vibrant and I feel more alive when I pay attention…poetic attention to the present moment.


“All of us are apprenticed to the same teacher that the

religious institutions originally worked with: reality.

Reality-insight says…master the twenty-four hours.

Do it well, without self-pity. It is as hard to get the children

herded into the car pool and down the road to the bus as

it is to chant sutras in the Buddha-hall on a cold morning.

One move is not better than the other, each can be quite

boring, and they both have the virtuous quality of repetition.

Repetition and ritual and their good results come in

many forms. Changing the filter, wiping noses, going to

meetings, picking up around the house, washing dishes,

checking the dipstick—don’t let yourself think these are

distracting you from your more serious pursuits.

Such a round of chores is not a set of difficulties we

hope to escape from so that we may do our “practice”

which will put us on a “path”—it is our path.”

GARY SNYDER, The Practice of the Wild

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Put your vileness up to a mirror and weep. That’s when
the real art, the real
making begins. A tailor must have a torn shirt to
practice his expertise

– RUMI –

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For God’s sake, be done
with this jabber of “a better world.”
What blasphemy! No “futuristic”
twit or child thereof ever
in embodied light will see
a better world than this, though they
foretell inevitably a worse.
Do something! Go cut the weeds
beside the oblivious road. Pick up
the cans and bottles, old tires,
and dead predictions. No future
can be stuffed into this presence
except by being dead. The day is
clear and bright, and overhead
the sun not yet half finished
with his daily praise.


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