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
Seung Sahn was the first Korean Zen master to come to live and teach in the West. His style borrowed from a number of different Buddhist traditions, particularly Rinzai. The book, ‘Dropping Ashes on the Buddha’ is a collection of his teachings that happened both in person as well as through correspondence – a way… Continue reading What is Death? You Are Already Dead
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’.
Four and fifty years I’ve hung the sky with stars. Now I leap through- What shattering! – Eihei Dogen (1200-1253)
This evocative essay by Virginia Woolf chronicles the short life and quick death of a moth that was fluttering by her window one day as she worked. Initially mesmerized by the movements of the creature, Woolf confesses to feelings of pity for his ‘zest in enjoying his meagre opportunities to the full.’ But she also… Continue reading The Death of the Moth and the Pure Bead of Life
“To take somebody’s adolescence away is to deny that person some of the closest looks at God’s face that we ever get on this planet,” said songwriter John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats in reference to his song The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton. The song is an ode to the integrity of adolescent ambitions,… Continue reading The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton – John Darnielle
Seamus Heaney wrote this heartbreaking poem in memory of his friend Donatus Nogwa in 1995. The story follows an Igbo legend about the loss of innocence and the overwhelming strength of the concept of everlasting death whose spell can’t be broken even by great chiefs or great loves. Wicklow, the place mentioned in the poem’s… Continue reading When Human Beings Found Out About Death – Seamus Heaney
This sonnet by American poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay is addressed to a lover and to the latent sense of impermanence and loss built in to all moments when one becomes conscious of great love or great happiness.
Picking up from last week’s poem by James Wright that was written in honor of his friend Robert Bly, this week I’m posting a work by Bly himself that pays homage to another poet, Wallace Stevens. The simple imagery of Bly’s poems conjure the verses of old Chinese masters, and echo the words of Wallace… Continue reading Thinking of Wallace Stevens by Robert Bly
Although Toni Morrison was primarily a novelist and an essayist, The Dewdrop was excited to find a short series of poems also penned by the author as a special contribution to the Black Mountain Institute. The five poems were printed back in 2002 for a limited edition letterpress that was released to help raise funding… Continue reading I Am Not Seaworthy – Toni Morrison