Friday, June 1, 2018

Thich Nhat Hanh - Please Call Me by My True Names

I  have a poem for you. This poem is about three of us.
The first is a twelve-year-old girl, one of the boat people crossing the Gulf of Siam.
She was raped by a sea pirate, and after that she threw herself into the sea.
The second person is the sea pirate, who was born in a remote village in Thailand.
And the third person is me. I was very angry, of course.
But I could not take sides against the sea pirate.
If I could have, it would have been easier, but I couldn’t.
I realized that if I had been born in his village and had lived a similar life
– economic, educational, and so on – it is likely that I would now be that sea pirate.
So it is not easy to take sides. Out of suffering, I wrote this poem. It is called
“Please Call Me by My True Names,” because I have many names,
and when you call me by any of them, I have to say, “Yes.”

Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow —
even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope.

The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all that is alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river.
And I am the bird
that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond.
And I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks.
And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.
And I am the man who has to pay
his “debt of blood” to my people
dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.

My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and my laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart
can be left open,
the door of compassion.

From Call Me By My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Sruti - True peace in the face of great pain

Sruti is a spiritual teacher who shares her experience with an uncommon and painful illness called Interstitial Cystitis. This ongoing and chronic condition challenged her to stay present with daily pain and to look further inward for answers.

In an extreme moment of pain, in which consciousness began to fade, Sruti experienced the erasure of all that clouds over the earliest source of vision. She asks the question: with whose vision are we seeing when the lights are going out? Has this early vision ever known anything at all?

Sruti finds that we can allow what is painful to become a tool to disrupt the ordinary layers of our experience. Underneath these layers we find the unconditional peace that is our constant being in each moment.

Can we investigate the source of ordinary vision – 
can we find the place of true seeing that is earlier that who we think we are?

A short excerpt from the book 

Maybe at first the beautiful experiences enhance our lives and cultivate a sense of joy that we believe is contained within that beauty. And the negative experiences seem to disrupt our lives and pull our attention away into fear. But the truth, behind our experience of fear and joy, is that there is something that is un-contained and never disrupted.

If we allow both the beautiful and the painful to point us back to not knowing, regardless of our circumstances, we come to see that it is the only constant in a world that swings between good and bad, up and down, right and wrong.

And so the pain served as an eraser. It came in and slowly took everything. It’s primary message is to let go. Its gift is silent fullness. It demands brevity and so points without delay to the fundamental fabric, that ground of the unknown.

When we inquire into the hidden value of the unknown, especially in a moment of great pain or great beauty we may not find an answer. We may instead experience an out-of-the-question silence that contains a profound reverence.

For true peace in the face of great pain, and for the resolution of its suffering, it is this unquestionable silence we must reveal within ourselves. It is not a tool to help better ourselves. It is not a pain killer. When the transient lights of our own lives are going out, and we no longer know anything – it is who we truly are, and we are already home.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Jeff Foster - I Am


I must confess something. I am a murderer.

Wait, hold on. Do not be shocked.
I am only telling you something
you already knew
way before you were born.

I am a murderer. I am a saint. I am a prostitute. I am a thief. I am the homeless man rummaging through the trash cans by the gas station you pass every night on the way home from work. I am a vandal. I am an artist. I am a wild lover. I am all the oceans. I am creation and destruction. I am all the galaxies and stars. I am a giraffe. I am Mickey Mouse. I am the starving child on the TV with those hollow, staring eyes you cannot look into for long before your heart starts breaking. I am everything that moves you and everything that leaves you stone cold. I am American Idol. I am Mozart's Magic Flute. I am as vast as a Universe. I am tinier than the tiniest sub-sub-atomic particle. I am silent, yet I am as loud as seven thousand apocalypses.

I take all forms, yet I cling to no particular form.

I do not say "I am form". I do not say "I am not form".
I do not say "I exist". I do not say "I do not exist".
I do not call myself God, consciousness, awareness, presence, spirit... or even Life.
I have no name for myself. I am anonymous.
Yet all names are my own.

Humans fight and kill and die over the names they gave me.

They form religions, dogmas, systems of thought. They claim I am on their "side" (I take no sides). They say I belong to them (I belong to nobody and everybody). They try to figure me out. They even claim to be me, know me, channel me. Some of them claim to have found The One Path that leads to me. They always have, they always will.

They do not know. Their minds are way too limited.

Yet 'mind' is one of my many ingenious appearances.

I appear as everything, yet when you stop and look for me, you cannot find me. I play in the cosmic hide and seek. I sometimes appear when you stop looking.

I am these words, and all the spaces between them. I am the silence at the end of the sentences... and the expectation at their beginning. I am the black and the white of it, and every shade of grey, and every colour. I am the understanding and the lack of understanding. I am the similarity and the contrast. I am the separation and the unspeakable unity.

I am the eyes moving across this screen and the screen moving across these eyes. I am the seeing and all that is seen. I do not divide myself between subject and object. Separation is not my religion. I know nothing of 'I', yet I speak of 'I' for the simple joy of it.

I am male and I am female. I am East and West. I am inside and outside. I speak every language fluently. I am all that is, all that has been, and all that will ever be. I am now, and never now. I cannot be reduced to anything. Eternities pass in the space of a breath. Aeons are my lifeblood.

I am breathing you now.
I am the in-breath and the out-breath of you. I am every sacred, intimate breath.
I am every one of your thoughts arising and dissolving in the vastness.
I am every feeling surging like a comet through the universal body.
I am sorrow. I am anger. I am fire. I am water.
I am always here, whether I am recognised or not.

I am the "Am" even when the I is not.
I am nothing and everything, nobody and everybody.
I am the murderer. The murderer says "I am".
I am the saint. The saint says "I am".
I am the prostitute. The prostitute says "I am".
I am the child. The child says "I am".
I am the scientist. The scientist says "I am".
I am the dying man. The dying man says "I am".

The story of "I" is always different, yes. That is my creativity.
But "Am" is always the same. AM. OM. That is my unchanging nature.

Do not seek me. Do not look for me in time. Do not be proud that you have found me. I am not your trophy. I am not food for your hungry ego. Simply admit that I am already here. Admit that I have always been here. And live your life as a constant remembrance of me. Devote yourself to the joy of being me. Let your life be your love song. Let your actions and words express me, bring me into form.

I hide in the universal "I" but really there is none. I am sneaky like that.

I am your deepest wisdom. I was there at your birth. Do you remember?

With love,

The Beloved.


Monday, May 28, 2018

J. M. Harrison - This...

There is nothing to seek, because the reality we search for is something we already are. Every single one of us is awakened when we deny the veils created by the ignorant mind which disguise and obstruct our true nature, for by decreasing our “I” we systematically increase the recognition or remembrance of our true being. The process of looking at ourselves without allowing the old controlling mind pulling the wool over our eyes is a pathway towards deeper knowing.

Are we ready to let go of the ‘self’ that we and others have spent a lifetime inventing? For many in this world, this is too much to ask. To reveal to oneself that the ‘life’ we have constructed was in fact carried out by poor workmanship, built with materials of inferior quality, with only one guarantee, that one day it will all fade away to nothing is too much to contemplate. But there, beyond the invented veils of the mind of “I”, in the farthest depths of our being, is the only reality worth realizing, one’s eternal self, and our true identification. An awareness of consciousness that has been built from the highest quality material, and made to last beyond time itself.

The veils so readily proposed by the addictive mind indicate that we want this or want that, need to be this, or need to be seen as 'something' in this world, but this is all a hallucination. What is real is this instant of peace, this sense of love, this reality of arriving beyond the thoughts of the mind, returning home like the long lost prodigal sons and daughters that we all are. It is in this place that you never left that you reveal your true self. The constant noise of thought, like some annoying interference heard on an old fashioned radio, is gradually dissolved by tuning in to your innermost reality, the real you. This is the true recognition of the underlying self, rediscovered by stripping away rather than adding to, revealing rather than accumulating. What you naturally are is this pure aliveness that is formlessness.

Eventually a point arises where there is no more “I”, for all conscious thought has ceased to occupy the addictive mind. This reveals the true nature of man, the reality behind the misleading overcoat of matter, the essence of the true self that has not left you for one second and yet somehow the revelation of a complete experience of life.


If I could give you anything,
It would be this.
This instance, this feeling, this reality.
For this is all we are.

I would give you myself,
And in giving myself,
You would recognise your own self,
Which is one and the same.

If I could show you true love,
I would not give you a kiss,
But I would bare you my soul,
Share it with you.

And if I could do one thing more,
Before I leave this place,
I would give you my all,
I would give you... this.