The Cure for It All
Vastness Of The Soul
Don't Go Back To Sleep
by 13th Century Sufi Poet, Rumi
The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth
across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch,
The door is round and open
Don't go back to sleep.
The Breath Inside The Breath
Are you looking for me?
I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.
You will not find me in the stupas,
not in Indian shrine rooms,
nor in synagogues,
nor in cathedrals.
Not in masses,
not in legs winding around your own neck,
nor in eating nothing but vegetables.
When you really look for me, you will see me instantly —
you will find me in the tiniest house of time.
Kabir says: Student, tell me, what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath.
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath--
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
inspired by Mary Oliver's poem "Wild Geese"
to write a coronavirus version of that poem:
You do not have to become totally zen,
You do not have to use this isolation to make your marriage better, your body slimmer,
your children more creative.
You do not have to “maximize its benefits”
By using this time to work even more,
write the bestselling Corona Diaries,
Or preach the gospel of ZOOM.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body unlearn
everything capitalism has taught you,
(That you are nothing if not productive,
That consumption equals happiness,
That the most important unit is the single self.
That you are at your best when you resemble an efficient machine).
Tell me about your fictions, the ones you’ve been sold,
the ones you sheepishly sell others,
and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world as we know it is crumbling.
Meanwhile the virus is moving over the hills,
suburbs, cities, farms and trailer parks.
Meanwhile The News barks at you, harsh and addicting,
Until the push of the remote leaves a dead quiet behind,
a loneliness that hums as the heart anchors.
Meanwhile a new paradigm is composing itself in our minds,
Could birth at any moment if we clear some space
From the same tired hegemonies.
Remember, you are allowed to be still as the white birch,
Stunned by what you see,
Uselessly shedding your coils of paper skins
Because it gives you something to do.
Meanwhile, on top of everything else you are facing,
Do not let capitalism co-opt this moment,
laying its whistles and train tracks across your weary heart.
Even if your life looks nothing like the Sabbath,
Your stress boa-constricting your chest.
Know that your antsy kids, your terror, your shifting moods,
Your need for a drink have every right to be here,
And are no less sacred than a yoga class.
Whoever you are, no matter how broken,
the world still has a place for you, calls to you over and over
announcing your place as legit, as forgiven,
even if you fail and fail and fail again.
remind yourself over and over,
all the swells and storms that run through your long tired body
all have their place here, now in this world.
It is your birthright to be held
deeply, warmly in the family of things,
not one cell left in the cold.
by Pablo Neruda
For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
And the people stayed home.
And read books, and listened, and rested,
and exercised, and made art, and played games,
and learned new ways of being, and were still.
And listened more deeply.
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous,
mindless, and heartless ways,
the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again,
they grieved their losses,
and made new choices,
and dreamed new images,
and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully,
as they had been healed.
I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.
Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.
Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.
After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.
Please Call Me By My True Names
Thich Nhat Hanh
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 a mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river.
And I am the bird that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.
I am a 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 also 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 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 the door of my heart could be left open,
the door of compassion.