empty mind, open heart


 

When praise is

lavished upon the famous,

the people contend and compete with

one another. When exotic goods are traded

and treasured, the compulsion to steal is

felt. When desires are constantly

stimulated, people become

disturbed and

confused.

 

Therefore,

the wise person sets an example

by emptying her mind, opening her heart,

relaxing her ambitions, relinquishing her desires,

cultivating her character. Having conquered her

own cunning and cravings, she can’t

be manipulated by

anyone.

 

Do

by not-doing.

Act with non-action.

Allow order to arise

of itself.

 

from Tao te Ching, Chapter 3

 

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sometimes a wild god

miki kim

 

Sometimes a wild god comes to the table.
He is awkward and does not know the ways
Of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver.
His voice makes vinegar from wine.

When the wild god arrives at the door,
You will probably fear him.
He reminds you of something dark
That you might have dreamt,
Or the secret you do not wish to be shared.

He will not ring the doorbell;
Instead he scrapes with his fingers
Leaving blood on the paintwork,
Though primroses grow
In circles round his feet.

You do not want to let him in.
You are very busy.
It is late, or early, and besides…
You cannot look at him straight
Because he makes you want to cry.

The dog barks.
The wild god smiles,
Holds out his hand.
The dog licks his wounds
And leads him inside.

The wild god stands in your kitchen.
Ivy is taking over your sideboard;
Mistletoe has moved into the lampshades
And wrens have begun to sing
An old song in the mouth of your kettle.

‘I haven’t much,’ you say
And give him the worst of your food.
He sits at the table, bleeding.
He coughs up foxes.
There are otters in his eyes.

When your wife calls down,
You close the door and
Tell her it’s fine.
You will not let her see
The strange guest at your table.

The wild god asks for whiskey
And you pour a glass for him,
Then a glass for yourself.
Three snakes are beginning to nest
In your voicebox. You cough.

Oh, limitless space.
Oh, eternal mystery.
Oh, endless cycles of death and birth.
Oh, miracle of life.
Oh, the wondrous dance of it all.

You cough again,
Expectorate the snakes and
Water down the whiskey,
Wondering how you got so old
And where your passion went.

The wild god reaches into a bag
Made of moles and nightingale-skin.
He pulls out a two-reeded pipe,
Raises an eyebrow
And all the birds begin to sing.

The fox leaps into your eyes.
Otters rush from the darkness.
The snakes pour through your body.
Your dog howls and upstairs
Your wife both exults and weeps at once.

The wild god dances with your dog.
You dance with the sparrows.
A white stag pulls up a stool
And bellows hymns to enchantments.
A pelican leaps from chair to chair.

In the distance, warriors pour from their tombs.
Ancient gold grows like grass in the fields.
Everyone dreams the words to long-forgotten songs.
The hills echo and the grey stones ring
With laughter and madness and pain.

In the middle of the dance,
The house takes off from the ground.
Clouds climb through the windows;
Lightning pounds its fists on the table.
The moon leans in through the window.

The wild god points to your side.
You are bleeding heavily.
You have been bleeding for a long time,
Possibly since you were born.
There is a bear in the wound.

‘Why did you leave me to die?’
Asks the wild god and you say:
‘I was busy surviving.
The shops were all closed;
I didn’t know how. I’m sorry.’

Listen to them:

The fox in your neck and
The snakes in your arms and
The wren and the sparrow and the deer…
The great un-nameable beasts
In your liver and your kidneys and your heart…

There is a symphony of howling.
A cacophony of dissent.
The wild god nods his head and
You wake on the floor holding a knife,
A bottle and a handful of black fur.

Your dog is asleep on the table.
Your wife is stirring, far above.
Your cheeks are wet with tears;
Your mouth aches from laughter or shouting.
A black bear is sitting by the fire.

Sometimes a wild god comes to the table.
He is awkward and does not know the ways
Of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver.
His voice makes vinegar from wine
And brings the dead to life.

Tom Hirons

and his bride “make beautiful things from

the margins”, in their words,

do go and marvel

 

love song


 

Even if I

were a god or a buddha

you’d be on my mind. I sit beneath

the lamp, a skinny monk chanting love

songs. The fierce autumn wind nearly

bowls me over and my heart

is choked with thick

clouds.

 

Ikkyu

 

the basis of the universe is stillness

 

The true basis
of the universe is stillness,
its real condition, for out of it comes
all activity. The ocean, when the wind ceases,
is calm again, as are the trees and grasses.
These things return to stillness,
their natural way.

And this is the
principle of meditation.
There is night, there is day,
when the sun sets there is a hush,
and then the dead of night,
when all is still. This
is the meditation
of nature.

Rosen Takashina

(1876-1968)

you’re a vortex of fluidic light, temporarily human

Let me remind you who you really are: You’re an immortal freedom fighter who longs to liberate all sentient creatures from their suffering. You’re a fun-loving messiah who devoutly wants to help all of your fellow messiahs claim the ecstatic awareness that is their birthright.

Try to remember. You’re a vortex of fluidic light that has temporarily taken on the form of a human being, suffering amnesia about your true origins. And why did you do that? Because it was the best way to forge the identity that would make you such an elemental force in our 14-billion-year campaign to bring heaven all the way down to earth.

I’m not speaking metaphorically here. You are a mutant deity in disguise — not a Buddha or a Christ exactly, but of the same lineage and conjured from the same fire. You have been around since the beginning of time and will be here after the end. Every day and in every way, you’re getting better at playing the preposterously amusing master game we all dreamed up together before the Big Bang bloomed.

Lately, I must admit, our work has seemed almost comically impossible. Many of us have given in to the temptation to believe that everything is upside-down and inside-out. Ignorance and inertia, partially camouflaged as time-honored morality, seem to surround us. Pessimism is enshrined as a hallmark of worldliness. Compulsive skepticism masquerades as perceptiveness. Mean-spirited irony is chic. Stories about treachery and degradation provoke a visceral thrill in millions of people who think of themselves as reasonable and smart. Beautiful truths are suspect and ugly truths are readily believed.

So no, at this peculiar turning point in the evolution of our 14-billion-year-old master game, it’s not easy to carry out our mission. We’ve got to be both wrathful insurrectionaries and exuberant lovers of life. We’ve got to cultivate cheerful buoyancy even as we resist the temptation to swallow thousands of delusions that have been carefully crafted and seductively packaged by those messiahs among us who bravely volunteered to play the role of know-it-all deceivers.

We have to learn how to stay in a good yet unruly mood as we overthrow the sour, puckered mass hallucination that is mistakenly referred to as “reality.”

Maybe most importantly, we have to be ferociously and single-mindedly dedicated to the cause of beauty and truth and love even as we keep our imaginations wild and hungry and free. We have to be both disciplined and rowdy.

Rob Brezsny