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The darkness in the room was like enormous riches;
there the child was sitting, wonderfully alone.
And when the mother entered, as if in a dream,
a glass quaked in the silent china closet.
She felt it, how the room was betraying her,
and kissed her child, saying, “Are you here?”
then both looked toward the piano in fear,
for often at evening they would have a song
in which the child found himself strangely caught.

He sat stone still. His great gaze hung
upon her hand, which, totally bowed down by the ring,
walked over the white keys
as if plowing through deep drifts of snow.

~Rainer Maria Rilke~

Joseph Campbell: Now, I came to this idea of bliss because in Sanskrit, which is the great spiritual language of the world, there are three terms that represent the brink, the jumping-off place to the ocean of transcendence. Sat, Chit, Ananda. The word, “Sat” means being. “Chit” means consciousness. “Ananda” means bliss or rapture. I thought, “I don’t know whether my consciousness is proper consciousness or not; I don’t know whether what I know of my being is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hang on to rapture, and that will bring me both my consciousness and my being.” I think it worked.

Bill Moyers: Do we ever know the truth? Do we ever find it?

Joseph Campbell: Each person can have his own depth, experience, and some conviction of being in touch with his own sat-chit-ananda, his own being thorugh consciousness and bliss. The religious people tell us we really won’t experience bliss until we die and go to heaven. But I believe in having as much as you can of this experience while you are still alive.

~ The Power of Myth~


Friends make us fuller.
When friends leave, their light stays behind.
It is like the blue sea
that supports the white breakers
that come and go.


No matter how far I go.
I long to return and be with friends.
It is never the same fire I left,
but beneath it are the ashes
of all our meetings that have gone before.

~Robert Sund~


A stunning CD. See especially, the video here and the commentary here.


From a favorite hill I watch the rolling waters pass by. I feel the curving waves pass right through me. The rhythm takes me into itself, and all that I brought with me is transmuted into the brine of nothingness — and me, too.


I shall say that I want it all.
If you ask me how much I want,
I shall tell you that I want it all.
You and I and everyone are flowing this morning
Into the marvelous stream of oneness.
Small pieces of imagination we are,
We have come a long way to find ourselves,
And for ourselves in the dark,
The illusion of emancipation.

This morning my brother is back from his long adventure.
He kneels before the altar and his eyes are filled with tears.
His soul is looking for a shore to put an anchor,
My own image of long ago.
Let him kneel there and weep,
Let him cry his heart out.
Let him have his refuge for a thousand years.
Enough to dry all his tears.

Because one of these nights I shall come.
I have to come and set fire to this small cottage of his on a hill.
His last shelter.
My fire will destroy,
Destroy everything.
Taking away from him the only life raft he has, after a shipwreck.
In the utmost anguish of his soul,
The shell will break.
The light of the burning hut will witness, gloriously, his deliverance.
I will wait for him beside the burning cottage,
Tears will run down my cheeks.
I shall be there to contemplate his new existence,
And hold his hands in mine,
And ask him how much he would want.
He will smile at me and say that he wants it all.
Just as I did.

~Thich Nhat Hanh~

How much of our lives is a process of unlearning? I unlearn my despair to find my love. I unlearn my craziness in order to find my own capacity to discern. I unlearn my addictions by discovering the real joy of everyday life. Unlearning my stories about myself, unlearning my limitations, I find I am a completely free, a wanderer of the world, all loneliness departed, without a need to play any particular role for myself or others. I unlearn my judgments, and as I do, compassion naturally appears like water flowing through the cracks in an ancient wall. All plants receive this water indistinguishably — whether I happen to first see them as beautiful flowers or as weeds. A garden is a garden, no matter who planted it; no matter how humble the blossom.

I unlearn the day to find a storm of stars. I unlearn the night to find the unfolding petals of first light.


Like a boatman
Crossing the Yura Strait,
His rudder gone,
I know not the goal
Of this path of love.

~Sone Yoshitada~


Today, the I Ching tells me how the Creative (Heaven) is tamed by Keeping Still (the Mountain).

Heaven within the mountain:
Thus good people acquaint themselves with many sayings of antiquity
And many deeds of the past,
In order to strengthen their characters…

I know few “sayings of antiquity.” Except, perhaps, “I am that I am,” which is the oldest voice of the many voices I hear. A voice within the deepest traditions of culture–and within myself. It recalls not just the pure spontaneity of the child coming to consciousness, but more to the point, the adult sitting quietly considering the most important life choices. And it brings forward scenes of such rich experience. I think of important relationships, of moments of deep recognition, of moments alone in the mountains looking out from the highest point….and how lucky I am to live this life filled with treasures. I am that I am.

It is the genesis of so many stories. I sit again within the arms of my grandfather as he makes up yet another fable from his unending imagination. I once more lay my head against his shoulder. I sleep, so that today I am ready to hear the deeper resonances of all that life has to offer me — and how very transient that all is.


In the night, after the others have gone,
with no light but the fire burning,
you let the lost space inside you build,
kindling that takes the flame. You listen quietly,
like a child, to the cold beyond the mountains.

I’ve lived in your far cabin for years now,
looked down on the aspens and sage,
the winding ice of the river. I’ve seen
the white-tailed deer leap the fence
that separates them from your dreams.

I’ve watched you travel the night.
From the shadows next to you
I’ve watched you rise above your bed,
a mirage of lilacs, frozen branches
like veins filled with snow
the fragile white glass glowing to
a polished point, pure light.

When the empty room comes back
I step forward to touch your things
and tend the fire for your return.
My loneliness hurts for a moment
before I find my little dance
to dance outside the world.

And then, tired of turning and turning
I drop exhausted to a chair.
Once more I am, and laugh,
and I pretend next time
you are to be my guest,
not I yours.

My friend, once more I drink your silence,
drink deep of the dark wine
you’ve left for me on the table.
I shall sleep well tonight
and miss your hand upon the door.



One night a moth flew into the candle, was caught, burnt dry, and held. I must have been staring at the candle, or maybe I looked up when a shadow crossed my page; at any rate, I saw it all. A golden female moth, a biggish one with a two-inch wingspan, flapped into the fire, dropped her abdomen into the wet wax, stuck, flamed, frazzled and fried in a second. Her moving wings ignited like tissue paper, enlarging the circle of light in the clearing and creating out of the darkness the sudden blue sleeves of my sweater, the green leaves of jewelweed by my side, the ragged red trunk of a pine. At once the light contracted again and the moth’s wings vanished into a fine, foul smoke. At the same time her six legs clawed, curled, blackened, and ceased, disappearing utterly. And her head jerked in spasms, making a spattering noise; her antennae crisped and burned away and her heaving mouth parts crackled like pistol fire. When it was all over, her head was, so far as I could determine, gone, gone the long way of her wings and legs. Had she been new, or old? Had she mated and laid her eggs, had she done her work? All that was left was the glowing horn shell of her abdomen and thorax–a fraying, partially collapsed gold tube jammed upright in the candle’s round light.

And then this moth-essence, this spectacular skeleton, began to act as a wick. She kept burning. The wax rose in the moth’s body from her soaking abdomen to her thorax to the jagged hole where her head should be, and widened into flame, a saffron-yellow flame that robed her to the ground like any immolating monk. The candle had two wicks, two flames of identical height, side by side. The moth’s head was fire. She burned for two hours, until I blew her out.
She burned for two hours wihtout changing, without bending or leaning–only glowing within, like a building fire glimpsed through silhouetted walls, like a hollow saint, like a flame-faced virgin gone to God, while I read by her light, kindled, while Rimbaud in Paris burnt out his brains in a thousand poems, while night pooled wetly at my feet.

And that is why I believe those hollow crisps on the bathroom floor are moths. I think I know moths, and fragments of moths, and chips and tatters of utterly empty moths, in any state. How many of you, I asked the people in my class, which of you want to give your lives and be writers? I was trembling from coffee, or cigarettes, or the closeness of faces all around me. (Is this what we live for? I thought; is this the only final beauty: the color of any skin in any light, and living, human eyes?) All hands rose to the question. (You, Nick? Will you? Margaret? Randy? Why do I want them to mean it?) And then I tried to tell them what the choice must mean: you can’t be anything else. You must go at your life with a broadax….They had no idea what I was saying. (I have two hands, don’t I? And all this energy, for as long as I can remember. I’ll do it in the evenings, after skiing, or on the way home from the bank, or after the children are asleep….) They thought I was raving again. It’s just as well.

~Annie Dillard~

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.


I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.


At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

~Wallace Stevens~


Then and there I invented this rule for myself to be applied to every decision I might have to make in the future. I would sort out all the arguments and see which belonged to fear and which to creativeness, and other things being equal I would make the decision which had the larger number of creative reasons on its side. I think it must be a rule something like this that makes jonquils and crocuses come pushing through the cold mud.

~Katharine Butler Hathaway~

Do not
Want to step so quickly
Over a beautiful line on God’s palm
As I move through the earth’s

I do not want to touch any object in this world
Without my eyes testifying to the truth
That everything is
My Beloved.

Something has happened
To my understanding of existence
That now makes my heart always full of wonder
And kindness.

I do not
Want to step so quickly
Over this sacred place on God’s body
That is right beneath your
Own foot

As I
Dance with
Precious life

~ Hafiz ~

From The Gift, translated by Daniel Ladinsky



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January 2007