The Pond

Photo by sheldon0531 on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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Is it the morning dew,
Or the remains of a summer rain?
We guess a sun deep in the chlorophyll;
It shines as you see in children’s drawings 
With all its regular rays 
Arranged, brightly shining

The pearls are on display, fine or replete
Protected on the surface of the pond.
Emerald bubbles or golden balls flowing by 
Like small, distant herds carried by the waters;
The wandering foam,
The giant reflections that shimmer

Deployed like antennas
Water lilies have other games
Other functions and other hidden links
With the peaceful waters, the sunshine, the impalpable ether
The deep nights, the shoals of stars
The whims of the moon

A world of connections
Subtle balances settled from the bottom of ages;
There are millions,
Of these intelligent immensities
Of these stories everywhere at work
These invisible rounds, these intimate marriages

And you are part of it
Only you do not know that well
Until one day, gazing at the water lilies 
They might invite you into the dance
And you may find yourself to be
Not the pond, nor the moon, or the sun

Not the water bubbles, nor the stars in the night
But the very fabric of it all, what holds them together;
The rhythm of the dance itself
And above all, the thin subtlety 
That is at the origin of such alliances
That makes them thrive and rejoice

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Text by Alain Joly

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Suggestion:
Voices from Silence (other poems from the blog)

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The Seagull

Photo by MaxNegro on Foter.com / CC BY-SA

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It stopped my line of thoughts:
A simple seagull
Flying through the courtyard,
Both wings elegantly spread

It taught me of pure grace
And effortlessness,
And brought within its trail 
The simple taste
Of bliss — of what is given 
Down here
Not to a deserving one
Or any special being
But to only a bird passing by
In the nonchalance of a fleeting moment;
Almost non existing,
A ghost within a ghost

It taught me of the ease of being
And the silence contained
In a movement unfettered.
Could I ever feel such joy?
Could I ever be brought down
To my knees
And let myself drift
In the same infinite gift
Of being.
Could I too spread my wings
And be given
Such a splendid death

It taught me of flow and pride
And of oneness too,
Of how the bird — any bird
Any small creature,
Is but a king in its kingdom,
And how a glance
Though caught elusively
Immediately raised me
To the rank of prince,
And made me feel
My own seagull reality,
My own soaring into the sky

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Text by Alain Joly

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Suggestion:
Voices from Silence (other poems from the blog)

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Chalices of Wonder

Alfred K. LaMotte is my newly invited guest on ‘The Dawn Within’. His poetry has been a regular companion over the years and I’m happy to share here five of his poems. Most of Fred’s writings and poems have been shared in his website  Uradiance’, and in his ‘numerous books’. Fred is an interfaith chaplain and a college teacher of world religions and philosophy. He wrote: “Poems are maps for getting lost in your heart where everyone can find you. Poems are momentary Sabbaths when eternity breaks in. These moments can heal the world.” Fred lives with his wife Anna near Seattle WA, where he “loves to walk barefoot in wet grass at midnight, un-naming the stars.” You will find, in between his poems, some of Fred’s writings on Beauty and Creation. I hope you enjoy these few pieces and excerpts…

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Beauty unfolds in the silence between thoughts.
The dark loam of thought-free awareness 
is where Words of creation spring up and cry,
‘Let there be light’.

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Invincible 

I don’t want to be invincible.
I want to be astonished by loss.
I want to be stunned
and defeated by wonder,
shocked into a new creation
where only dancing is allowed.
I want to fall down again and again.
How close can my head come to your toes
before it shatters into spirals of gold?
Lift me up, I’ll do
what a fountain does to sunbeams.
Step on me, I’ll be the sky. 

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~

Creation is neither a tale of the past nor a vision of the future, but a history of this moment. 
That is why, for me, meditation is the mother of poetry
.”

~

[…]

Discover the poetry and wisdom of Alfred K. LaMotte… (READ MORE…)

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The Starry Night

‘The Starry Night’ – Vincent Van Gogh, 1889 – WikiArt

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Van Gogh was depressed
A lonely heart in an asylum,
So he painted a starry night
And made it bright.
He said ‘The night is so alive
And more richly coloured 
Than day.’
The flame of his pain
Became a dark cypress
That rose on to the skies.
The grim is found in the defined;
The light and the spacious,
Say the precious — in airy sky.
There is a wide expanse
Below Van Gogh’s window,
An even larger one shining
Behind the iron bars of mind.
The darkest mood embraced
Turns into soft and tender mist;
Let it clear up, reveal a sky
Lit up by countless twinkling stars.
There is no mind, no gloom inside
That doesn’t rest on happy ground,
So he painted a starry night
And made it bright.
There is peaceful living under heaven
In a village with some shiny windows 
But more is meant in illumination.
Among the shadows, the murky
Does run a light so clear and vast,
Whirlpools of joy, luminous streams,
A saraband of radiant beings.
Even the quieter moon bragged 
And clothed itself in gleaming apparel;
There is glory in a silent night
And fireworks concealed
In the obscure.
There is a sea 
Beneath the hectic waves
And an eternity
Amongst the fainted lights of day,
So he painted a starry night
And made it bright.

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Poem by Alain Joly

Painting by Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)

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Websites:
Vincent Van Gogh (Wikipedia)
The Starry Night (Wikipedia)

Suggestion:
Voices from Silence (other poems from the blog)

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Ablaze with the City

Look they are here
Roaming along the street
My wandering thoughts
Among the fallen leaves
The abandoned litter
And a creaky bicycle passing by

Listen it is here 
Visiting among the trees 
A random feeling 
Among the neatly parked cars 
A stray panting dog
And birds flapping above my head

See and feel it now
Ablaze with the city
The aliveness of being
Gently taking its place
Down from the cobbled alley
To its soaring among the clouds

You had a sweet friendship with it
Amongst the busy crowd
You felt its warm embrace
And its soft company
Between the blast of a horn 
And the gust of a passing truck

As you crossed the avenue
Meeting glances from the cafe
It rose to a presence so vast
That you felt enlarged with it
Like a long standing friendship
That burst into a sudden love

You knew it was home
Where you wanted to be
As the first large drops of rain
Began tapping against your coat
You opened your heart to it
Disappearing within its space

Now the whole city was glowing
And the few happy rays of a sun
Sent rainbow lights amongst it all
There was a hum and a throbbing 
It was the life surrounding you
The whole place, the whole of it, was you

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Text and photo by Alain Joly

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Suggestion:
Voices from Silence (other poems from the blog)

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Overlooking You

So you have abandoned me
At least it feels like it
You have let me drift on the shores
Of helplessness and suffering

For you were too humble
Never showing your qualities
When I needed specificities
Preferences as good and bad
That’s why I didn’t notice you

You were reaching far and wide
Never complying to any border
When I wanted something to rely on
That was solid and densely felt
That’s why I missed your embrace

You had no place in time to be
Never travelling in linearity
When I desired to grasp you so
Within a thought or a moment
That’s why you left elusively 

You had no care for a distance
Always standing so merged and close
When I liked you slightly remote
To catch you in my wilful gaze
That’s why I overlooked you

You had no taste for the personal
Always averse to belonging
When I sought you in my puny self
And discarded the world for it
That’s why I shrugged at your beauty

You kept away from conditions
Always shining unreservedly
When I expected you in the bright
Not in the dark and the lowly
That’s why I misunderstood you

You were with me shining and clear
Always loving all beings and things
When I was torn in suffering
And thought you had abandoned me
I must have simply looked away

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Text and photo by Alain Joly

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Suggestion:
Voices from Silence (other poems from the blog)

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Verses on the Perfect Mind

‘Huike thinking’ – Shi Ke, 10th Century – Wikimedia Commons

信心銘
鑑智僧璨

 

It is only recently that I have heard the first two lines of this Zen poem called ‘Hsin-hsin Ming’, which can be translated as ‘Verses on the Perfect Mind’. It is an ancient poem, one of the earliest and most influential Zen writings. It was allegedly composed by Chien-chih Seng-ts’an, who is referred as the Third Zen Patriarch. Very little is known about him, except that he was initiated into the Dharma by Dazu Huike (487–593) and died in 606. It has been multi-translated, and given various names. The title literally means ‘Inscription (or record) on the Believing Heart (or the Faith Mind)’. Verses on the Perfect Mind seems to be a good translation, considering the deeper meaning of the word ‘perfect’ which is ‘completed, accomplished’. The perfect Mind here is an ‘is-ness’, the natural mind, the Buddha mind. As the Nirvana Sutra says, “Great faith is no other than Buddha nature.”

What makes the translation of the poem difficult is the tension between conveying the right meaning and rendering the brevity of the poem. There is a passage in the present translation that goes: “When things can no longer be faulty, it is as if there are no things. When the mind can no longer be disturbed, it is as if there is no mind.” This was translated by Prof. Dusan Pajin: “No blame, no things; no arising, no mind.” The poem consists of 146 unrhymed four-character verses, which is shorter than the usual lines in Chinese poetry which have five or seven characters. So the form is concise, scarce, and that is in line with the Zen meditative form. 

It should not be read as a succession of individual quatrain, but more as a vision, something whole, indivisible. I think it was written in this spirit, for the original work is really just a succession of undivided characters. Maybe it was recited fast, concentrating on the meaning behind the words, the felt-understanding. It starts with these famous lines, so often quoted: “The Great Way is not difficult, for those who have no preferences.” It develops as variations on these lines before ending and finding completion — we could say vanishing — with this strong reminder: “Words! Words! The Way is beyond language, Words never could, can not now, and never will describe the Way.” The present interpretation is by Eric Putkonen. Eric is a Modern-day house-holder yogi and lover of what-is who lives in St. Petersburg, Florida where he hosts nonduality satsangs. I hope you will enjoy…

 

至道無難 
唯嫌揀擇 
但莫憎愛 
洞然明白 

 

The Great Way is not difficult, 
for those who have no preferences. 
Let go of longing and aversion, 
and it reveals itself.

Make the smallest distinction, however, 
and you are as far from it as heaven is from earth. 
If you want to realize the truth, 
then hold no opinions for or against anything.

Like and dislike 
is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning (of the Way) is not understood, 
the intrinsic peace of mind is disturbed.

As vast as infinite space, 
it is perfect and lacks nothing.
Indeed, it is due to your grasping and repelling 
that you do not see things as they are.

[…]

Continue reading this old poem by the Third Zen Patriarch… (READ MORE…)