What Issa Heard

Two hundred years ago Issa heard the morning birds
singing sutras to this suffering world.
I heard them too, this morning, which must mean,
since we will always have a suffering world,
we must also always have a song.

The deep-down dark

To understand light you need first to have been buried in the deep-down dark.

Psalm 139

If I say, "Let only darkness cover me,
And the light about me be night,"
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
The night dazzles as with the sun;
The darkness is a light to You.

One day you will know that the emptiness is your friend

Looking at me in the gentlest manner, the hermit said, "You are afraid, aren't you? You don't need to be afraid." His power lay in that he had no power. He merely looked deeply into my soul.

A tension broke within me, and much to my horror I began to weep. The tears quietly drained the hurt and terror from me and replaced it with peace.

"We are all deaf. The way of emptiness teaches us to hear...One day you will know that the emptiness is your friend."

The emptiness of the dark night

The emptiness of the dark night is a yielding emptiness that gives way to the fullness of all possibility... If all your spiritual activities have grown empty and you are compelled to walk away, tie yourself to one practice only: contemplative silence. Abandon discursive prayer if it has become mechanical and meaningless. Let go of holy images if they no longer evoke the sacred. Refrain from spiritual discourse if it tastes like idle gossip in your mouth. But do not turn away from the silence.

The Uses of Sorrow

(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

You see, I want a lot

The rooting (of trees, of our selves) is as important and as necessary as the rising. We have the opportunity to sink roots into soul and rise up with branches in heaven...

Our spiritual growth is meant to go in both directions, toward the fertile darkness and the glorious light, each of us having the opportunity to bridge earth and heaven—the underworld and the upperworld—through the trunks of our middleworld lives....

There's no conflict between spirit-centered being and soulful doing, between transcendence and inscendence. Each supports and enhances the other. Like Rilke, we discover we can have both:

You see, I want a lot
Maybe I want it all;
The darkness of each endless fall,
The shimmering light of each ascent.

Get to your your fear

"Sit quietly and contemplate," said the Lama. "Get to know your anger, your fear, all your emotions. Dissect them and speak with them. Accept yourself and know every part of your own being. To understand oneself is to have compassion for everything."

The dark night of the soul

The dark night of the soul refers to an extended period of acute purification that a spiritual practitioner undergoes immediately before making the final transition to deep spiritual awakening. It emphasizes purification and the act of letting go of what no longer serves after many lesser trials have been navigated.