THIS WEEK'S BLOG

Tim Desmond
Book Excerpts

F*cked Up, but Always Beautiful

Tim Desmond writes about his wife’s terminal illness, and his revelation about the way in which his deep love for his wife was manifesting as anxiety, and because of it he was missing their shared moments of beauty.

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Kerry Egan
Book Excerpts

Being With Dying – Kerry Egan

In her years working as a hospice chaplain, spiritual caregiver and author Kerry Egan has rarely found that dying patients want to discuss God or religion. Instead, chaplaincy work for her leans on the quality of the presence she can offer her patients and the compassion and empathy with which she can hold space for them and their stories.

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William Stafford
Poetry

William Stafford – A Ritual to Read to Each Other

We must endeavor to rise above the patterns set out for us by others, according to Stafford, and not follow in a line like elephants holding each other’s tails; it is imperative, he writes, that ‘awake people be awake’ since ‘the darkness around us is deep’.

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Jocelyn Ulevicus

Jocelyn Ulevicus – A Home Safe to Call Home

What happens when home is not a place of safety, but a locus of loneliness and even danger and violence? Jocelyn Ulevicus’ poem describes a solitude and a fear around isolation wrapped in memories of past violence, and explores what finally settling into a sense of safety really means.

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Robert Miner

Robert Miner – Flying Kites at Night

A moment of transcendence is captured by Robert Miner in this short and evocative poem inspired by the sight of a group of students flying kites on a quad. The movement from the earth to the sky and the devotional missive of the kites being sent up and disappearing into the darkness come together like a silent prayer or a whispered exchange between mortals and the infinite.

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FEATURED AUTHORS AND POETS

BOOK EXCERPTS

Sam Harris

What Are We Calling “I”?

We often identify ourselves with the events that have happened to us and the things we have done, rather than the subjective center of experience itself. In an echo of the Buddhist teaching of the absence of a permanent self, Harris asserts that when the absence of this self is found, then ‘the feeling of being a self disappears.’

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Life and Death Do Not Exist

In this short chapter from the Shobogenzo, Sho-ji, Dogen plays with the distinction between the nuances of the two different meanings, life and death being static and self-defined events, which he argues have no substance or existence, and living and dying which are an endless flow of events and dynamic being

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Bankei and the Unborn

17th century Zen master Bankei on the Unborn, the unconditioned mind that comes up spontaneously and is fundamental to every person, without exception.

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THE ALAN WATTS CORNER

Caroline Goodwin

Why I Write – Caroline Goodwin

Writing can be anything, from self-discovery to incorporating pain to establishing direction, according to poet Caroline Goodwin, who featured in The Dewdrop a couple of weeks ago with her poem, Not I’ll Not, from her book, Custody of the Eyes. 

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Zen Tree

FROM THE ZEN GARDEN

Am I Conscious Now?

“What does it mean to ask a question? Is there some magic in the inquisitive brain?” Susan Blackmore’s lifelong investigation into consciousness encompasses Zen practice and the recurring question: Am I conscious now?

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Chiyono’s Enlightenment Poem

Adachi Chiyono (also known as Mugai Nyodai) was the daughter of a samurai warrior in the 13th century who became the first woman – and mother – to found and head a Zen monastery in Japan.

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KEEP READING

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Start Where You Are: Ajahn Sumedho

“Whatever way you are feeling now, whether you like it or not, whether it is inspired or depressed, right or wrong, sane or crazy, it is what it is in this moment.”

The Priest Must Become a Teacher (Part 3)

For some scientists, the pursuit and gradual recognition of a unifying principle is in itself a spiritual endeavor encompassing what Einstein refers to as religion ‘in the highest sense of the word’.

What Have You Left Out? Alan Watts on the Limits of Perception

Alan Watts often said that in order to come to your senses, you have to get out of your mind. Watts was emphatic about self-realization and breaking through cultural and psychic barriers in order to live as a fully-fledged, fearless human being.

Religion Without Science is Blind (Part 2)

Einstein goes on to explore definitions of science and religion and sees no fundamental conflict between them, except for when each try to encroach on the other’s territory: science can only claim what is and not what should be, and religion can have no declaration of fact.

Sheila Heti – When Love Slips into the Death Drive

Sheila Heti’s novel ‘How Should a Person Be?’ asks that candid and naive question with honesty, humor and sincerity. During the course of the book, she especially looks at love and all its difficulties, and in this passage she talks about the kind of obsessive sexual love that pushes us over cliffs and into the death drive, that longs for ‘annihilation, comfort and death’.

Tim Desmond

F*cked Up, but Always Beautiful

Tim Desmond writes about his wife’s terminal illness, and his revelation about the way in which his deep love for his wife was manifesting as anxiety, and because of it he was missing their shared moments of beauty.

Read More »
Kerry Egan

Being With Dying – Kerry Egan

In her years working as a hospice chaplain, spiritual caregiver and author Kerry Egan has rarely found that dying patients want to discuss God or religion. Instead, chaplaincy work for her leans on the quality of the presence she can offer her patients and the compassion and empathy with which she can hold space for them and their stories.

Read More »
Jocelyn Ulevicus

Jocelyn Ulevicus – A Home Safe to Call Home

What happens when home is not a place of safety, but a locus of loneliness and even danger and violence? Jocelyn Ulevicus’ poem describes a solitude and a fear around isolation wrapped in memories of past violence, and explores what finally settling into a sense of safety really means.

Read More »
William Stafford

William Stafford – A Ritual to Read to Each Other

We must endeavor to rise above the patterns set out for us by others, according to Stafford, and not follow in a line like elephants holding each other’s tails; it is imperative, he writes, that ‘awake people be awake’ since ‘the darkness around us is deep’.

Read More »
Eihei Dogen

Life and Death Do Not Exist

In this short chapter from the Shobogenzo, Sho-ji, Dogen plays with the distinction between the nuances of the two different meanings, life and death being static and self-defined events, which he argues have no substance or existence, and living and dying which are an endless flow of events and dynamic being

Read More »
Robert Miner

Robert Miner – Flying Kites at Night

A moment of transcendence is captured by Robert Miner in this short and evocative poem inspired by the sight of a group of students flying kites on a quad. The movement from the earth to the sky and the devotional missive of the kites being sent up and disappearing into the darkness come together like a silent prayer or a whispered exchange between mortals and the infinite.

Read More »
Erich Von Hungen

Erich von Hungen – The Moment

The pinpoint perspective of the present moment can feel so sharp but ultimately always impossible to fathom and out of our reach. As Erich von Hungen writes, it is simultaneously hard and soft, early and late, tiny and all-encompassing ‘like a pocket-sized Big Bang.’

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Beck

Beck – Everlasting Nothing

Everlasting Nothing is the final track on singer/songwriter Beck’s album Hyperspace. It describes a series of experiences with an unreal bent in which there is a continuous push to ‘get back home’.

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Sam Harris

What Are We Calling “I”?

We often identify ourselves with the events that have happened to us and the things we have done, rather than the subjective center of experience itself. In an echo of the Buddhist teaching of the absence of a permanent self, Harris asserts that when the absence of this self is found, then ‘the feeling of being a self disappears.’

Read More »
Jerome Berglund

Jerome Berglund – Manure

Jerome Berglund’s poem, Manure, grew from his own practice of sowing and harvesting where he was reminded that compost and dung are always essential to the process of growth and fertilization.

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Holly Kelso

Holly Kelso – Suspended

Holly Kelso’s Suspended takes place in the space of a pause, walks during a period of isolation near the poet’s home at the base of a mountain, and at the edge of both a desert and a lake.

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Joan Lauri Poole

Joan Lauri Poole – Why, Miró

Mesmerized by Miró’s ability to metamorphose the external world into something wholly his own, something human and not, Joan Lauri Poole’s poetic tribute to the painter details her own revelation of his work.

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Alice Walker

Alice Walker – Be Nobody’s Darling

In an echo of the defiance of Wendell Berry’s ‘Do Not Be Ashamed’, Alice Walker draws up the image of an outcast to underline the importance of tenaciousness and standing one’s ground in the midst of madness.

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