Category Archives: spirituality

a flower at a traveler’s inn

Overtaken by darkness

I will lodge under

the boughs of a tree.

Flowers alone

host me tonight.

                                               ~Taira-no-Tadanori (1144-84)*



Japanese Death Poems

Yoel Hoffmann

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i dreamt i was a butterfly

Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.*


Taoist regard the reality of imagination and of dreams as no less real than what is usually called realty by contrast.

*Zhuangzi, Butterfly and a Companion: Meditation on the 1 of 3 Chapters of the Chuang-Tzu


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form from form

begonia angel wing

…Full sail, I voyage

Over the boundless ocean, and I tell you

Nothing is permanent in all the world.

All things are fluid; every image forms,

Wandering through change.  Time is itself a river

In constant movement, and the hours flow by

Like water, wave on wave, pursued, pursuing,

Forever fugitive, forever new.

That which has been, is not: that which was not,

Begins to be; motion and moment always

In process of renewal …

Not even the so-called elements are constant …

Nothing remains the same; the great renewer,

Nature, makes form from form, and, oh, believe me

That nothing ever dies…

      ~Ovid, Metamorphoses*


The Master and his Emissary

Iain McGilchrist

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photo friday: mirror


Unknown spring –

Plum blossom

Behind the mirror



*cited in:

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photo friday: delicious!

Seeing one finger, hearing a frog jump into the water, experiencing the sunrise, washing one’s face in the early morning – anything will serve as a medium of realization if the mind is serene*



A Zen Wave

Robert Aitken


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The Fasting of the Heart



Yen Hui, the favorite disciple of Confucius, came to take leave of his Master.

“Where are you going?” asked Confucius.

“I am going to Wei.”

“And what for?”

“I have heard that the Prince of Wei is a lusty full-blooded fellow and is entirely self-willed.  He takes no care of his people and refuses to see any fault in himself. He pays no attention to the fact hat his subjects are dying right and left. Corpses lie all over the county like hay in a field.  The people are desperate. But I have heard you, Master, say that one should leave the state that is well governed and go to that which is in disorder. …I want to take this opportunity to put into practice what I have learned from you and see if I can bring about some improvements in conditions there.”

“Alas!” said Confucius, “you do not realize what you are doing. You will bring disaster upon yourself.  Tao has no need of your eagerness, and you will only waste your energy in your misguided efforts.  Wasting your energy you will become confused and then and then anxious. Once anxious, you will no longer be able to help yourself. The sages of old first sought Tao in themselves, then looked to see if there was anything in others that corresponded with Tao as they knew it. But if you do not have Tao yourself, what business have you spending your time in vain efforts to bring corrupt politicians into the right path? …”

…Yen Hui then said: “…Will you, Master tell me what you suggest?”

You must fast!” said Confucius…”The goal of fasting is inner unity. This means hearing, but not with the ear; hearing, but not with the understanding; hearing with the spirit, with your whole being. The hearing that is only the ears is one thing. The hearing of the understanding is another. But the hearing of the spirit is not limited to any one faculty, to the ear, or to the mind.  Hence it demands the emptiness of all the faculties. And when the faculties are empty, then the whole being listens. There is then a direct grasp of what is right there before you that can never be heard with the ear or understood with the mind. Fasting of the heart empties the faculties, frees you from limitations and from preoccupation. Fasting of the heart begets unity and freedom.

…”If you can do this, you will be able to go among men in their world without upsetting them. You will not enter into conflict with their ideal image of themselves…Just be there among them, because there is nothing else for you to be but one of them.”*


The Way of Chuang Tzu

Thomas Merton

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the fall of leaves

has left some autumn

on the lower branches




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Japanese Death Poems

Yoel Hoffmann


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