Browsing Category "Poems"
21 Feb
2020
Posted in: Poems
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We Must Risk Delight

If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.

***

Poem excerpt from A Brief for the Defense, by Jack Gilbert

Photo by Kyle Nieber on Unsplash

19 Feb
2020
Posted in: Poems
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Listen.

Attention is the natural prayer of the soul…

***
Quote from A Journal of the Year of the Ox, by Charles Wright

Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash

13 Feb
2020
Posted in: Books, Poems
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If You Really Want to Be Free…

I just received my copy of The First Free Women: Poems of the Early Buddhist Nuns, a translation/adaptation by Matty Wiengast of the Therigatha (“Verses of the Elder Nuns”), which I’ve been waiting for since hearing just a few of them read aloud while I was at the Forest Refuge last June.

Bhikkhuni Anandabodhi writes:

“These poems you hold in your hands are like jewels to me…

“I had been waiting a long time for a rendition of the Therigatha that would speak directly to my heart. There are several English translations, but most have been done by scholars who have remained in a formal relationship with these poems composed by enlightened women 2,600 years ago. While these academic translations of the Therigatha may be literally accurate, and with some effort the inspiring teaching can be found, for me they miss the quality of transmission and so remain as words spoken long ago, now dusty and dry.

“Reading through this new rendition, feeling the visceral response, and experiencing the sense of clarity and connection that came through, I realized that Matty had taken the poems far beyond what I had hoped for.”

I agree.

As Jack Kornfield writes, “These are fresh, powerful, poetic translations that bring our ancient wise women to life. Let their beautiful songs of freedom inspire you own heart.”

Here’s an excerpt from Tissa — The Third
(The title of each poem is the original author’s name — in Pali and in English.)

Why stay here
in your little
dungeon?

If you really want
to be free,
make
every
thought
a thought of freedom.

12 Feb
2020
Posted in: Poems
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Always At Ease

Like the stone inside a rock,
the stillness of form is
the center of every-
thing,
Inalterable, always at ease.

***

Poem fragment from “A Journal of the Year of the Ox,” by Charles Wright, published in Oblivion Banjo: The Poetry of Charles Wright

Photo by Lubo Minar on Unsplash

5 Feb
2020
Posted in: Books, Poems, Practice
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Buy This Book!

Longtime readers of this blog will notice that I haven’t been posting poems the way I used to, that now I only use excerpts of poems, or older poems that are already in the public domain, or curated poems that have been sent to me or are in some other way publicly available. That’s because I’m being more careful now about observing the precept of not taking what’s not freely offered (which I posted about here).

But I used to post whole poems, copied straight out of books (which, at least, I had purchased — but still) without thinking much about it. A lot of those poems were copied from Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, edited by Phyllis Cole-Dai and Ruby R. Wilson. (All poems in the book were reprinted by permission.)

I won’t be copying whole poems and posting them anymore, but if you liked any of the poems I’ve already posted — and perhaps, are using them in your dharma groups — please consider supporting these poets financially as well as literarily — by buying the book that I copied their poems from!

Or better yet, email me here with the name of the poems I’ve posted that you really love, and I’ll try to make up for using them without the poet’s permission by buying — and then encouraging my readers to buy — a whole book of their poems!

31 Jan
2020
Posted in: Poems
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The Problem is…

You cannot get in the way of anyone’s path to happiness, it also does no good. The problem is
figuring out which part is the path and which part is the happiness.

***

Poem excerpt from War of the Foxes, by Richard Siken (2015)
courtesy of Pome

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

27 Jan
2020
Posted in: Books, Poems
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That Everything Changes, Changes Everything

In his Introduction to The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy, editor John Brehm writes:

“If we knew ourselves as living in a ghost world of unceasing change, we wouldn’t take ourselves and the things that happen to us quite so seriously. And we would see more clearly the preciousness of all life…

“Living in the full knowledge that everything changes, changes everything. It loosens our grasp and lets the world become what it truly is, a source of amazement and amusement.”

***

I love the art on this cover! It’s: “Our Fragile Past,” by Kevin Sloan.

22 Jan
2020
Posted in: APP, Poems
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Yes.

Coolness —
the sound of the bell
as it leaves the bell.

***

Tathatā is the Buddhist concept of “suchness.” It is very similar to suññatā (emptiness) but derives from saying “yes” to the universe. There is really nothing to hold on to, yet there is something going on. The quality of suchness is like the reflection of ultimate reality. It is a mirage that reflects something real out there; only in this case, the reality is not out there, but it is in our minds. Suññatā and tathatā—emptiness and suchness—are the two sides of reality that we experience in sense-based daily lives.
— from Atammayatā by Piya Tan

***

poem by Yosa Buson (1716-1784), translated from the Japanese by Robert Hass

photo by Elke Smit on Unsplash

22 Dec
2019
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The Life of This World

from The Southern Cross
by Charles Wright

The life of this world is wind.
Windblown we come, and windblown we go away.
All that we look on is windfall.
All we remember is wind.

***

Photo by Mike Lewinski on Unsplash

5 Dec
2019
Posted in: Poems
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Solids are not Solid

The Gaps
by Frances Leviston,
courtesy of Pome

And then they revealed that solids were not solid
That a wall was not solid
That it consisted of molecules fixed and vibrating
Some distance apart, as did the flesh

That solidity was really the likelihood
Of stuff not falling
Between two chairs, down the gaps

And that walking through the wall was not impossible
That it could be like
Slipping between pine trunks into a forest
Which had looked from the road impermeable
But was where something lived

And that one could peer back from the gloom towards the light
A different creature
With tender eyes, with an ear for water.

***

image credit: My Heart is Dancing into the Universe, by Yayoi Kusama, published in The Strand Magazine, 2018/10/15