is a great shout of joy
waiting to be born.
~ David Whyte
"One of the most difficult things to say to another person is, I hope that you will love me for no good reason. But it is what we all want and rarely dare to say to one another – to our children, to our parents and mates, to our friends, and to strangers. Especially to strangers, who have neither good nor bad reasons to love us."
~ Russell Banks, from The Angel on the Roof
A Prayer for the Living
by Jeff Foster
Break in me whatever needs to be broken.
Fix my hope of ever being fixed.
Use me. Draw every ounce of creativity out of me. Help me live a radically unique life, forever forging a never-before-trodden path in the forest.
Show me how to love more deeply than I ever thought possible.
Whatever I am still turning away from, keep shoving in my face.
Whatever I am still at war with, help me soften towards, relax into, fully embrace.
Where my heart is still closed, show me a way to open it without violence.
Where I am still holding on, help me let go.
Give me challenges and struggles and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, if that will bring an even deeper humility and trust in the intelligence of life.
Help me laugh at my own seriousness.
Allow me to find the humour in the dark places.
Show me a profound sense of rest in the midst of the storm.
Don't spare me from the truth. Ever.
Let gratitude be my guide.
Let forgiveness be my mantra.
Let this moment be a constant companion.
Let me see your face in every face.
Let me feel your warm presence in my own presence.
Hold me when I stumble.
Breathe me when I cannot breathe.
Let me die living, not live dying.
"The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one...We can't really expect to find an answer when we're still afraid of the question....The only way we're going to beat a problem that people are battling alone is by standing strong together."
"Success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself.
Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it."
~ Viktor Frankl
Willsboro, New York, July 31, 2011
Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us. Not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing. Silence is God's lap.
Many things grow the silence in us, among them simply growing older.
We may then become more a refuge than a rescuer, a witness to the process of life and the wisdom of acceptance.
Taking refuge does not mean hiding from life. It means finding a place of strength, the capacity to live the life we have been given with greater courage and sometimes even with gratitude.
See also: The Capacity to Find the Hidden Light
Let go of the dead now.
The rope in the water,
the cleat on the cliff,
do them no good anymore.
Let them fall, sink, go away,
become invisible as they tried
so hard to do in their own dying.
We needed to bother them
with what we called help.
We were the needy ones.
The dying do their own work with
tidiness, just the right speed,
sometimes even a little
satisfaction. So quiet down.
Let them go. Practice
your own song. Now.
See also: Why Not Start Apprenticing Yourself Now?
Krista Tippett: I always see you also insisting that music is about waking up. I mean, I don't know if those two things have to be in tension, but I sense that, if you had to choose between transcendence and waking up and being right there in that moment, you would choose the latter. Just saying, I mean, live performance is as direct and awake and experience one hopes as anything we do.
Meredith Monk: That's also, again, so interesting because actually I don't see those two things as opposites. I actually think that, when you are that present and you are that awake and the audience actually experiences themselves, you know, the deepest part of themselves, then the whole situation becomes transcendent because we're not — the way we live our lives is not necessarily with that level of presence.
And also certainly in this society, we're taught to actually be distracted and diverted all the time from feeling, in a sense, you could say the pain — the good pain, you know, the pain as in openheartedness and rawness of the moment, the pain as well as the pleasure, everything in one in that moment.
Meredith Monk: Your practice is very simple, but it's very much about how are you in the world? You know, how do you look at the person that's counting change for you in the grocery store or how do you deal with a person that you don't get along with well? How are you waking up all the time to see what the moment is? How are you on the subway? How are you when something really bad happens to you? You know, just how do you become a citizen in this world and perpetuate nonviolence and, you know, there are many, many aspects to it.
And one of them is about and fear and fearlessness. And it's about acknowledging your fear rather than pushing it away because a part of the violence comes from not even acknowledging that you're afraid. It's actually that you're afraid of the fear.
And then what happens, that gets pushed down and then that gets transformed into anger or violence. I mean, so much of the world that we're living in now, you know, what's going on and the way that people are manipulated or these wars or violent situations come from basic fear and terror, not in terms of terrorism, but terror, human terror. So I started thinking about that and then I've started working on a song that's called "Scared Song."
I've been noticing that the older that I get, the simpler the work gets in a way. I mean, in a way it's more refining it from something very complex to something very simple. One of the beauties of being an artist is that it is timeless. You know, the funny thing is, it doesn't get any easier. I mean, you would think that I've been working for so many years that, oh, I can make a piece so easily, but I think what I do is I put myself through the same process of going to zero every time and, you know, this kind of risky situation, so sometimes I think why do I do this and why isn't it easier now after all these years?
But I actually think that that's what does keep you very young because you're always questioning. You know, I think that making art is actually about questions and that you never take anything for granted and you're in this slightly dangerous situation, which I think is really good. Then I always say that I'm scared to death.
We learn in Buddhist practices to tolerate the unknown, because that's reality. The reality is that we don't know anything, and we really don't know what's going to happen in the next moment. So you learn to tolerate that discomfort of not knowing and fear. I mean, every time, I'm just terrified. I'm actually terrified. I realize this even now working on this piece.
When I perform, I'm still nervous, which I think is a good sign because it means that you still have passion for what you're doing. But every time I make something new, it's never like, oh, this is going to be so easy. No, it's always this terror and then I sit with that for a while and then I say to myself, "Step by step," and then I just start working and it's a step-by-step kind of process. And then, at a certain point, I realize I'm so interested in this. Then once that interest comes in or curiosity comes in, then the fear goes away. So it's very interesting that curiosity is a great antidote to fear.
You’ll Be Bright
by Craig Minowa
The Invocation p.1:
You'll Be Bright
All the things you'll love,
All the things that may hurt you,
All the things you shouldn't do,
And all the things you want to...
They're calling your name...travel safely.
Every first kiss, every crisis, every heartbreak and every act of kindness...
They're calling your name...travel safely.
Every empire, every monument, every masterpiece and every invention,
They're calling your name...travel safely.
I found stars on the tip of your tongue.
You speak Poltergeist, so do I. So do I.
What comes will come.
What goes will go.
The wind will blow where the wind is blowing.
Let go of where you think you're going.
We'll never know why it flows where it's flowing.
We've always been what we will always be.
I'm so convinced we have to get there, we can part the sea.
So bring the dead to life, turn your blood to wine.
All your life you have waited for this moment to arrive.
And you'll be bright.
From “Last-Minute Doubts, New York City,” interviews by Joanna Miller, The New York Times, May 1, 2011:
ANNA MEDVEDEVA, 24: The photo was taken the night before my breast-augmentation, chin- and neck-liposuction surgeries, and I was very confused and was thinking, What are you doing with yourself, girl? I spent all that day at home preparing for surgery. I was alone with my fear that night, and I was thinking that I wanted to change my decision. So I tried on the bandage that I would have to wear on my face after the surgery. I felt scared and called my best friend, who really helped me so much. My friend and I talked as Amy took pictures of me. In some, I was nude, and when the light went through the window from the street and I saw myself, I thought, I’m already perfect. My imperfection is my nature. Now, after everything is done, I love it so much. I look to the mirror, and I’m like: “Wow, you’re so sexy. I want you, girl.”
AMY ARBUS: A week before this photo session, Anna told me she was having plastic surgery, and I asked to do before-and-after pictures. Toward the end of this shoot, she started getting nervous about the surgery, and I said, “You can still change your mind.” She was on the phone a lot with her girlfriend, and when we were done, she was looking to see if she had heard back, and that’s when I took that picture. It was the last one I took.
"It seems to me that the intention of all these practices is to cultivate attention, either by practicing attention directly or by removing what prevents attention from developing. Once attention is present, appropriate action, skillful means, bodhicitta, everything else flows quite naturally. There is no need for minute dissections of Buddhist ethics or philosophy. The phrase ‘Be there or be square’ acquired a new meaning for me. Very simply, attention reveals buddha nature and enables it to manifest in our lives...
Once I shifted my effort to paying attention to what was arising, doors started to open. I began to see a little more clearly what was going on. I'd had to let go of old ways of looking at things, some that I had learned in the course of my training, others going back much further to family patterns. The patterns became apparent. The function and purpose of the patterns also became apparent...
Bring the attention to what is arising and we know, directly, what needs to be done. This changed not only my own practice but how I tried to teach others. The source of that knowing is buddha nature. And the practice is very simple in principle: strip away whatever prevents it from manifesting.
[Thanks, Kit !]
The airport's clear for a landing.
The snow is melting on the garden.
All our anxieties are in a box I mailed to Pluto.
And I feel like the sun.
Gonna burn it all away.
We rest our heads upon one pillow.
Beg for falling stars to break in our window.
Outside the evergreens are blowing out their birthday candles.
And I feel like the wind.
Gonna blow it all away.
Pray to the 'I Don't Know' that made me.
Protect my Love, protect my friends, protect my baby.
I may have worries, but I'm not going crazy.
I feel like the rain.
Gonna wash it all away.
I can't breathe unless you're in my air.
I'm not here unless you're somewhere near.
When old age calls, we'll share a rocking chair.
And I feel like the dawn.
That light is getting near.
One of my favorite ways of expressing this attitude of gentleness [in response to fear or panic] is a quote from Trungpa Rinpoche where he says, “It’s not about cultivating one part of our self and rejecting another, but about simply looking openly at ourselves just as we are.”
So when the fear arises, it’s not trying to get rid of the fear, but looking open-heartedly. Dropping the storylines. Turning toward instead of running away. Opening up our minds and hearts because what you open up into is such a groundless, vulnerable, tender situation. But it has its huge heart. It has, not even the seeds of compassion and love, but it is a gesture of love in itself.
It probably isn’t quite accurate to say “love for the fearful mind,” but it is in a way love for a total, unconditional acceptance of your own experience. You would think that that would be the same thing as indulgence. You would think that would lead to an escalating into self-absorption and only thinking about yourself, but strangely—I think because it’s so raw and because you’re staying with the rawness—it totally demolishes the way that we protect ourselves. The way that we put on a suit of armor or develop a thick skin or go into ourselves and don’t care other people. No tenderness for ourselves translates as no kindness, no compassion, no mercy for others.
So this loving-kindness, this atmosphere of warmth, is allowing yourself to be as you are without justifying it or condemning it. This allowing is a process of being here all along. Not just when we like how it’s going. And as I say, instead of that making you more self-absorbed, it makes you very decent, very sane, and very open to the world and other people.