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….I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
–Mary Oliver, The Summer Day
I don’t fit anywhere and for the first time that feels correct. I am walking along a nameless path. This walking creates the path, is not separate from the (W)ay. Walking becomes the way to weave together the threads that I hold of different traditions. The way of the pilgrim is always to walk, no matter what the country or culture. Pilgrimage knows no boundaries, crosses over the borders. There is only the nameless (W)ay, and to find it one must walk, feel one’s feet on the ground, let the (W)ay lead.
– China Galland, Longing for Darkness: Tara and the Black Madonna
The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. …To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.
~ Albert Einstein
Do not accept what you hear by report, do not accept tradition, do not accept a statement because it is found in your books, nor because it is in accord with your belief, nor because it is the saying of your teacher. Be lamps unto yourselves. Those who, either now or after I am dead, shall rely upon themselves only and not look for assistance to anyone besides themselves, it is they who shall reach the topmost height.
– The Buddha
A word about doctrine. Doctrine is not the basis of faith or its starting point. Creation is the basis of trust, which is the biblical meaning of faith. Doctrine serves as a parameter, much like the sidelines in a soccer game, within which believers play out their faith. An experiential living out of faith births insight which later generations sometimes summarize as doctrine. When doctrine becomes a starting point for faith, I fear faith is already dead. Faith concerns action and trust and the best that right and left brain can bring together. Doctrine, which is left-brained, has a limited but useful role to play. Much as a painter needs a frame within which to paint the best picture she can, so doctrine allows persons to concentrate on in-depth play. One does not study the sidelines and call this knowing soccer; so one does not study doctrine and call this theologizing, much less living a spiritual life.
For years I’ve been watching
Waiting for Old Woman
Feeling loss and sorrow alone
I’ve been watching
Now I find her weaving
Gathering the fragments
Now I find Her in myself…
–Anne Cameron, Daughters of Copper Woman
If thou couldst but empty all thyself of self
Like to a shell dishabited
Then might He find thee on the ocean’s shelf
And say – This is not dead –
And fill thee with Himself instead.
–Sir Thomas Browne
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World
broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
— Gerard Manley Hopkins, God’s Grandeur
WHEN will you ever, Peace, wild wooddove, shy wings shut,
Your round me roaming end, and under be my boughs?
When, when, Peace, will you, Peace? I’ll not play hypocrite
To own my heart: I yield you do come sometimes; but
That piecemeal peace is poor peace. What pure peace allows
Alarms of wars, the daunting wars, the death of it?
O surely, reaving Peace, my Lord should leave in lieu
Some good! And so he does leave Patience exquisite,
That plumes to Peace thereafter. And when Peace here does house
She comes with work to do, she does not come to coo,
She comes to brood and sit.
— Gerard Manley Hopkins, Peace
Advice doesn’t help lovers!
They’re not the kind of mountain stream
you can build a dam across.
An intellectual doesn’t know what the drunk is feeling!
Don’t try to figure what those lost inside love will do next!
Someone in charge would give up all his power,
if he caught one whiff of the wine-musk
from the room where lovers are doing who-knows- what!
One of them tries to dig a hole through a mountain.
One flees from academic honors.
One laughs at famous mustaches!
Life freezes if it doesn’t get a taste
of this almond cake.
The stars come up spinning
every night, bewildered in love.
They’d grow tired with that revolving, if they weren’t.
They’d say, “How long do we have to Do this!”
God picks up the reed-flute world and blows.
Each note is a need coming through one of us,
a passion, a longing-pain.
Remember the lips
where the wind-breath originated,
and let your note be clear.
Don’t try to end it .
BE Your Note.
I’ll show you how it’s enough.
Go up on the roof at night
in the city of the soul.
Let Everyone climb on their roofs
and sing their notes!
“Westerners always stay in temperate zones when they’re looking for philosophy,” [Robert Farris] Thompson said in an interview in Rolling Stone. “Jews become Buddhists, Methodists become Bahais; they never go south.” What would they find if they did? What is the metaphysical goal of African thought?
Africans don’t conceive of the other world – the world of the spirit, the divine – as existing above this one, or below it, or even alongside it…For the African, the human world and the spirit world intersect. Their sign for this is the cross, but it has nothing to do with the Christianist cross, which impales a man in helpless agony upon the intersection… In Africa, the cross is of two roads intersecting to flow into each other, to nourish each other. The earthly and the spirit worlds meet at right angles, and everything that is most important happens at the spot where they meet, which is neither solely of one world nor the other.
The metaphysical goal of the African way is to experience the intense meeting of both worlds at the crossroads……
— Michael Ventura, Shadow Dancing in the USA