Friday, January 18, 2019

Paul Golman - ​Removing Your Self

Imagine now setting aside
everything you think is you.

See yourself from outside
yourself. Do you like

this self you see? Aha!
That is the pivotal question.

From this outer vantage
point, removed from thought,

judgment and self-deception,
the authentic truth of you,

at a depth unparalleled,
is revealed. You discover

that you are not at all
who you think you are.

No, indeed you are yet
more than you could have

ever imagined in wildest
dreams. Go ahead,

remove yourself and see
you are truly what you

have so long
been waiting for. 

Mary Oliver - When Death Comes

Mary Oliver, beloved poet and bard of the natural world, died on January 17 at home in Hobe Sound, Florida. 
She was 83.

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Lao Tzu - The ego says

The ego says
that the world is vast, and
that the particles which form it are tiny.
When tiny particles join, it says, the vast
world appears. When the vast world
disperses, it says, tiny particles

The ego
is entranced by
all these names and ideas,
but the subtle truth is that world and particle
are the same; neither one vast, neither one tiny. Every
thing is equal to every other thing. Names and
concepts only block your perception
of this Great Oneness. Therefore
it is wise to ignore

who live inside
their egos are continually bewildered:
they struggle frantically to know whether things
are large or small, whether or not there is a purpose
to joining or dispersing, whether the universe is blind and
mechanical or the divine creation of a conscious being.
In reality there are no grounds for having beliefs
or making comments about such things. Look
behind them instead, and you will discern
the deep, silent, complete truth
of the Tao. Embrace it, and
your bewilderment

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Fakhruddin 'Iraqi - What's all this noise about?

You are the world –
But how can You be seen?
Are you not the soul as well?
Yet how can You be hidden?
How can You be manifest?
For You are occult always.
Yet how can You be hidden
When You are eternally seen?
Hidden, manifest,
Both at once. . . .
You are not this, not that –
Yet both at once.
If You are Everything
Then who are all these people?
And if I am nothing

What's all this noise about?


Listen, riffraff,
Do you want to be All?
Then go,
Go and become Nothing...
Don't dream this thread
Is double-ply:
Root and branch
Are but One.
Look close: all is He –
But He is manifest through me.
All me, no doubt –
But through Him.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Rūmī - This World Which Is Made of Our Love for Emptiness

Praise to the emptiness that blanks out existence. Existence:
This place made from our love for that emptiness!
 Yet somehow comes emptiness,
this existence goes.
 Praise to that happening, over and over!
For years I pulled my own existence out of emptiness.
 Then one swoop, one swing of the arm,
that work is over.
 Free of who I was, free of presence, free of dangerous fear, hope,
free of mountainous wanting.
 The here-and-now mountain is a tiny piece of a piece of straw
blown off into emptiness.
 These words I'm saying so much begin to lose meaning:
Existence, emptiness, mountain, straw:
 Words and what they try to say swept
out the window, down the slant of the roof.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Rabindranath Tagore - Lord of My Life

art Rassouli

Thou who art the innermost Spirit of my being,
art thou pleased, Lord of my Life?
For I give to thee my cup filled with all
the pain and delight that the crushed
grapes of my heart had surrendered,
I wove with rhythm of colors and song cover for thy bed,
And with the molten gold of my desires
I fashioned playthings for thy passing hours.
I know not why thou chosest me for thy partner,
Lord of my life.

Didst thou store my days and nights,
my deeds and dreams for the alchemy of thy art,
and string in the chain of thy music my songs of autumn and spring,
and gather the flowers from my mature moments for thy crown?

I see thine eyes gazing at the dark of my heart,
Lord of my life,
I wonder if my failure and wrongs are forgiven.
For many were my days without service
and nights of forgetfulness; futile were the flowers
that faded in the shade not offered to thee.

Often the tied strings of my lute slackened
at the strains of thy tunes.
And often at the ruin of wasted hours
my desolate evenings were filled with tears.

But have my days come to their end at last,
Lord of my life, while my arms round thee
grow limp, my kisses losing their truth?
Then break up the meeting of this languid day!*
Renew the old in me in fresh forms of delight;
and let the wedding come once again in
a new ceremony of life.

T.S. Eliot - Time and Space

“If Time and Space, as sages say,
Are things which cannot be,
The sun which does not feel decay
No greater is than we.
So why, Love, should we ever pray
To live a century?
The butterfly that lives a day
Has lived eternity.

The flowers I gave thee when the dew
Was trembling on the vine,
Were withered ere the wild bee flew
To suck the eglantine,
So let us haste to pluck anew
Nor mourn to see them pine,
And though our days of love be few
Yet let them be divine.”

Friday, January 4, 2019

Robert Saltzman - On free will

Stillness Speaks is pleased to offer Freedom to Be, an excerpt from Robert Saltzman’s new book The Ten Thousand Things  which takes a unique look at awakening, self-determination, destiny, and choice. In Freedom to Be, Robert Saltzman explores free-will within the context of no intrinsic self. He explores who or what makes choices and examines what choices actually are. Robert turns many of our basic assumptions about choice and freedom up-side down. Robert has graciously provided a PDF of his book’s sixth chapter, Freedom to Be, which is free to download.  

The deepest wellsprings of thought and action exist beyond our ken and beyond conscious control. ~ Robert Saltzman

Continuing with the question and answer format in the book, The Ten Thousand Things, this chapter cuts to the chase and opens with this challenging question about free will…

Robert, you say that we have no free will. I don’t understand that at all. If I decide to have another sip of tea, my arm and hand will reach out for the cup. Did I not will that action to happen?

Robert answers…

Naturally, we all have the sensation of free will and choice, but that is, I say, a sensation and nothing more. Choice is a story we tell ourselves after the actual “decision”—there never was any decision—has already been determined unconsciously as the resultant of the interplay among different parts of the brain. What feels to us like choice is not a voluntary decision at all, but the attribution of that neuronal dance to a fictional boss or overseer called myself. The overseer-myself is a ghost in the machine. There really is no little “myself” sitting in the middle of your skull deciding anything.

We all have a sensation of agency, but that sensation is like the feeling while dreaming that “I,” the dreamer, have powers to influence events and determine outcomes within the dream. Upon awakening, we see that the “I” in the dream was as much a part of the dream as anything else in the dream—not in any way separate from it—and actually had no powers at all.

…in the matter of free will, the ancients may have understood things that most of us moderns do not. Vedanta, for example, appreciated long ago that the sense of free will is a kind of self-deception that arises with the mistaken idea that there is a person apart from the entirety of the universe. A similar perspective is found also in Buddhism, which points out that there never was nor will be a freestanding, separate “I,” because every apparently separate happening depends for its existence upon everything else. “Myself” is “co-dependently originated,” as this is said.

Vedanta tells us that “I” exist in two senses. The first is the bodily-identified “I” which believes and feels that it has free will. This is mithya, or conditional being. And then there is the supposedly permanent myself that witnesses the conditional myself, along with everything else in the universe.

In fact, Vedanta professes that without this permanent witness-self, the universe would not exist at all—that only the light of the Self brings the universe into being. The Buddha, on the other hand, who had been trained in Vedanta, but at last rejected it, dismissed the Vedic idea of Self, calling it “eternalism,” and  said that there is no permanent self, nor permanent anything else.

Despite the feeling of free will, and the social conventions that revolve around it, no one, I say, ever chose anything freely. And no one is to blame for so-called “bad choices” either. The deepest wellsprings of thought and action exist beyond our ken and beyond conscious control. I have no idea what word I will type next or where it will come from.

Freedom, I say, does not mean getting to do whatever one wishes. Nor does freedom have anything to do with so-called “free will,” which is a fantasy. Freedom arises with the understanding that in each moment what is, is, and cannot be different, including whatever “myself” sees, feels, thinks, or does.

In the light of that understanding, while acceding outwardly to social conventions which require playing the role of chooser and decider (and even demand acting as if one were somehow responsible for behaviors over which one never had any actual choice), inwardly—within one’s private understanding—one may come clean and admit that the “myself” who chooses is a fiction, a story I have learned to tell myself. In that admission one may find freedom—not the freedom to “choose,” but the freedom to be.