November 22, 2010

Here’s this week’s Dharma Talk, along with posts of  readings:

39.
In harmony with the Tao,
the sky is clear and spacious,
the earth is solid and full,
all creatures flourish together,
content with the way they are,
endlessly repeating themselves,
and endlessly renewed.

When man interferes with the Tao,
the sky becomes filthy,
the earth becomes depleted,
the equilibrium crumbles,
creatures become extinct.

The Master views the parts with compassion,
because he understands the whole.
His constant practice is humility.
He doesn’t glitter like a jewel
but lets himself be shaped by the Tao,
as rugged and common as a stone.

As I said in my talk, we’ve moved into a section of the Tao Te Ching that seems very much its own. While I’m still able to find parallel teachings, they don’t flow as seamlessly from text to text as we’ve found in earlier verses. I suspect this has something to do with the construction of the Tao Te Ching. Since I’m not making a formal academic study however, I’ll  dispense with literary theory and simply post readings I found to be of a similar mind…

This first is a lovely quote from the great Sivananda, in Georg Feuerstein’s pocket anthology, Teachings of Yoga:

Smile with the flower and the green grass. Play with the butterflies, birds, and deer. Shake hands with the shrubs, ferns, and twigs of trees. Talk to the rainbow, wind, stars, and the sun. Converse with the running brooks and the waves of the sea, Speak with the walking-stick. Develop friendship with all your neighbors, dogs, cats, cows, human beings, trees, flowers, etc. Then you will have a wide, perfect, rich, full life. You will realize the oneness or unity of life. This can hardly be described in words. You will have to feel this yourself.

I was also struck by these lines from Rumi, pulled from a larger work in the Coleman Barks/Michael Green collaboration, The Illuminated Rumi:

Bend, Tend, Disappear

This is how you change
when you go to the orchard
where the heart opens….

you become
fragrance and the light
that burning oil gives off,

long strands of grieving hair, lion
and at the same time, gazelle.

You’re walking alone without feet,
as riverwater does….

Bend like the limb of a peach tree.
Tend those who need help.
Disappear three days with the moon.

Don’t pray to be healed, or look for evidence
of “some other world.”
You are the soul
and the medicine for what wounds the soul.

And in closing, as has often happened on this inter-spiritual adventure called Monday Night Class, the final word goes to Mary Oliver, whose poet-mind roams deep in the diamond essence of the Tao. Every word and every space between those words, shimmering with light and the fertile darkness…

This World

I would like to write a poem about the world that has in it
nothing fancy.
But it seems impossible.
Whatever the subject, the morning sun
glimmers it.
The tulip feels the heat and flaps its petals open
and becomes a star.
The ants bore into the peony bud and there is the dark
pinprick well of sweetness.
As for the stones on the beach, forget it.
Each one could be set in gold.
So I tried with my eyes shut, but of course the birds
were singing.
And the aspen trees were shaking the sweetest music
out of their leaves.
And that was followed by, guess what, a momentous and
beautiful silence
as comes to all of us, in little earfuls, if we’re not too
hurried to hear it.
As for spiders, how the dew hangs in their webs
even if they say nothing, or seem to say nothing.
So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe they sing.
So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe the stars sing
too, and the ants, and the peonies, and the warm
stones,
so happy to be where they are, on the beach, instead of
being lock up in gold.

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