Poetry

David Whyte – The Bell and the Blackbird

“Either way
takes courage,
either way wants you
to be nothing
but that self that
is no self at all,”

– David Whyte


Meditators at a temple might sometimes be aided by the sound of a bell ringing at intervals throughout the meditation session. The bell, which is often cast to be bigger than a person, can be housed in its own structure and is rung in the spirit of awakening, to reverberate all around the temple grounds as a gentle call to awakening. By the same token, David Whyte’s poem proposes the sound of the blackbird, the sound of nature or of something quite ordinary, as an alternative, another path to the monastic life. He is reassuring the reader of their radiance, of their courage, and that their deepest spiritual path doesn’t necessarily lead through an institution – that the approach is really ‘the meeting itself, without any meeting at all.’


The Bell and the Blackbird

The sound of a bell
Still reverberating,
or a blackbird calling
from a corner of the field,
asking you to wake
into this life,
or inviting you deeper
into the one that waits.

Either way
takes courage,
either way wants you
to be nothing
but that self that
is no self at all,
wants you to walk
to the place
where you find
you already know
how to give
every last thing
away.

The approach
that is also
the meeting
itself,
without any
meeting
at all.

That radiance
you have always
carried with you
as you walk
both alone
and completely
accompanied
in friendship
by every corner
of the world
crying
Allelujah.

David Whyte
From: The Bell and the Blackbird

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