Wendell Berry’s “No going back” is about the generosity of the evolving self through time

July 29, 2014

No Going Back
(Wendell Berry)

No, no, there is no going back.
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.
More and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.
You have become a sort of grave
containing much that was
and is no more in time, beloved
then, now, and always.
And so you have become a sort of tree
standing over a grave.
Now more than ever you can be
generous toward each day
that comes, young, to disappear
forever, and yet remain
unaging in the mind.
Every day you have less reason
not to give yourself away.

Here is a National Endowment For The Humanities interview with Wendell E. Berry, Awards & Honors: 2012 Jefferson Lecturer. These poems by Walcott, O’Donohue, and Hafiz complement Berry’s theme: Love after Love, by Derek Walcott, A Blessing of Solitude by John O’Donohue, and The Root of The Rose by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky.

For Hafiz the role of an enlightened poet is to connect humanity with the joy of the divine

July 16, 2014

A CRYSTAL RIM
by Hafiz

The
Earth
Lifts its glass to the sun
And light — light
Is poured.

A bird
Comes and sits on a crystal rim
And from my forest cave I
Hear singing.

So I run to the edge of existence
And join my soul in love.

I lift my heart to Beloved
And grace is poured.

An emerald bird rises from inside me
And now sits
Upon the Beloved’s
Glass.

I have left that dark cave forever.
My body has blended with His.

I lay my wing
As a bridge to you

So that you can join us
Singing.

(“The Gift” – versions of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky)

Canadian poet P.K. Page describes a phantom bird in This Heavy Craft.

A mysterious bird in this Wallace Stevens poem teaches us the wonder of just being our self.

Love after Love, by Derek Walcott, resonates deeply when you first acknowledge yourself.

Another poem by Hafiz via Ladinsky describes the spiritual transformation of loving deeply within himself.

Found this lovely YouTube channel by Enea B, which combines poetry with visuals and music.

A mysterious bird in this Wallace Stevens poem teaches us the wonder of just being our self

July 16, 2014

Of Mere Being

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze distance.

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

Wallace Stevens

The Palm at the End of the Mind: Selected Poems and a Play

William Stafford in his poem, Just Thinking, also appreciates the value “of just being there.”

Canadian poet P.K. Page describes a phantom bird in This Heavy Craft.

Hafiz via Ladinsky describes the spiritual transformation of loving deeply within himself

July 16, 2014

Another wonderful poem by Hafiz translated by Daniel Ladinsky in “A Year With Hafiz” is The Root of the Rose. It’s a testament to the transformational power of loving from deep within the Self.

The Root of The Rose

In this cup I am drinking from, I can see the Face
behind every face
.

A well now, where creation has been drawn, I am.
How can a jug being carried on the top of my head
contain everything?

A galaxy can appear in the reflection of a small
clear pool.

Right where the moon may appear smiling at you
from a body of still water . . . a fish might leap out

and swallow that orb whole, and who is to say,
maybe even lay it at your feet?

Within an arm’s reach is all I desire, so I am never
in want.

The root of the Rose I have become, from loving
the way I did.

A Year With Hafiz: Daily Contemplations
Daniel Ladinsky, July 13, page 215

The image of the fish swallowing the moon reminds me of a poem by Rolf Erickson called Mirror Lake.

Also see Leave something in the marketplace by Hafiz. Related: Poems by Rumi and Octavio Paz open our minds to a more cosmic perspective. My poem, As Above, So Below, shares the same cosmic sentiment.

Love after Love, by Derek Walcott, resonates deeply when you first acknowledge yourself. Only then can you truly love. A Blessing of Solitude by John O’Donohue complements Derek Walcott’s Love after Love.

Fairfield, Iowa continues to be the place to visit, named BuzzFeed’s coolest small town in America

July 1, 2014

Fairfield, Iowa, home of Maharishi University of Management, was named one of the coolest small towns in America to visit. Check out America’s awesome hidden gems on BuzzFeed’s 11 Coolest Small Cities It’s Time To Road Trip To. This nationwide list is published just in time for family summer road trips. Fairfield makes the list at number 2, right after Asheville, North Carolina.

The article notes Fairfield is “an unassuming town, surrounded by rolling farmland, that has gained fame for both its abundance of startup companies and its abundance of Transcendental Meditation practicers. It’s also full of amazing architecture, notably by George Franklin Barber and Barry Byrne. Don’t forget to stop by the American Gothic House while you’re there — just a mere 20-minute drive away.”

Here’s the full list, but visit BuzzFeed to see the photos and descriptions: www.buzzfeed.com/fuze/coolest-small-cities-its-time-to-roadtrip-to.

1. Asheville, North Carolina
2. Fairfield, Iowa
3. Sedona, Arizona
4. Mystic, Connecticut
5. Estes Park, Colorado
6. Portland, Maine
7. Marfa, Texas
8. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
9. Park City, Utah
10. Athens, Georgia
11. Santa Cruz, California

Some related stories about Fairfield, Iowa:

The Smithsonian’s 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2013. Fairfield, Iowa is in the Top 10 (No. 7)

“Moving America Forward,” a national TV show hosted by William Shatner, to feature Fairfield

@DMRegister’s Rox Laird Features Fairfield, Iowa’s Civic Collaboration and @MaharishiU’s Sustainable Living Center

Fairfield, Iowa, The Spiritual Sister City, published in Lawrence, Kansas Magazine

Video segments of Oprah’s Next Chapter on OWN: Oprah Visits Fairfield, Iowa—”TM Town”—America’s Most Unusual Town

The Iowan: Sizing Up Small Towns: Rethinking Success in Rural Iowa: Fairfield Thinks Inclusively

The Cultural Oasis of The Midwest: Fairfield, Iowa

A Blessing of Solitude by John O’Donohue complements Derek Walcott’s Love after Love

June 27, 2014

A Blessing of Solitude by John O’Donohue

May you recognize in your life, the presence, power and light of your soul.
May you realize that you are never alone,
That your soul in its brightness and belonging
connects you intimately with the rhythm of the universe.
May you have respect for your own individuality and difference.
May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique,
that you have a special destiny here,
That behind the facade of your life
there is something beautiful, good, and eternal happening.
May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride,
and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.

John O’Donohue (from Anam Cara)

See Love after Love, by Derek Walcott, resonates deeply when you first acknowledge yourself.

Other poems For a New Beginning by John O’Donohue and The Inner History of a Day by John O’Donohue.

Listen to Krista Tippett interview John O’Donohue On Being: The Inner Landscape of Beauty.

Poems by Rumi and Octavio Paz open our minds to a more cosmic perspective

June 27, 2014

Rumi and Octavio Paz on Discovering a more Cosmic Perspective

Rumi

I am so small I can barely be seen.
How can this great love be inside me?

Look at your eyes. They are small,
but they see enormous things.

(The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks)

~

Octavia Paz

Brotherhood
Homage to Claudius Ptolemy

I am a man: little do I last
and the night is enormous.
But I look up:
the stars write.
Unknowing I understand:
I too am written,
and at this very moment
someone spells me out.

(Collected Poems by Octavio Paz, translated with Eliot Weinberger)

~

Here is a haiku I wrote that shares a similar sentiment. It was published in 13 Ways to Write Haiku: A Poet’s Dozen for The Dryland Fish, and in Five Haiku for This Enduring Gift.

 Forest Flowers

tiny white flowers
a constellation of stars
so low yet so high

© Ken Chawkin

 ~

An even more cosmic understanding our relationship to the universe comes from the Vedic Literature — “Yatha pinde tatha brahmande, yatha brahmande tatha pinde” — “As is the individual, so is the universe, as is the universe, so is the individual” or “As is the atom, so is the Universe” or “As is the human body, so is the Cosmic Body” or “As is the Microcosm, so is the Macrocosm”, or succinctly as “As Above, So Below.” See my poem As Above So Below.

Another expression is “Anor aniyan mahato mahiyan — “Smaller than the smallest is larger than the largest” i.e., our essential nature, our Self, is beyond measure, infinite, unbounded, transcendental.
 

Mary Oliver’s Summer Day is filled with wonder

June 23, 2014

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down,
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

~ Mary Oliver ~

(New and Selected Poems, Volume I)

Related: Mary Oliver’s poem, Praying, is a lesson on attention, receptivity, listening and writing.

Other poems: The Journey by Mary Oliver | Wild Geese by Mary Oliver, photo by Ken West | Varanasi by Mary Oliver in A Thousand Mornings.

Love after Love, by Derek Walcott, resonates deeply when you first acknowledge yourself

June 22, 2014

Just received this beautiful poem, Love after Love, written by Derek Walcott. To me it’s about coming back to yourself, discovering and loving your self. It can be a sweet, quiet awakening, when you recognize it, open your heart to it, to who you are.

I remember when it happened to me, living alone in a room I was renting in a house in North Vancouver. I finally let go of all the distracting reasons to search for happiness outside myself, in wanting to love another person or be loved by them, or some thing to do I thought would make me happy. I just stopped and discovered the loving stranger that was there, and accepted myself instead, as if for the first time. Took more than half my life for it to finally happen, but was quietly surprised and pleased when it did. Derek Walcott describes this process of self-recognition and acceptance so well, so powerfully.

Love after Love

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here.  Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine.  Give bread.  Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit.  Feast on your life.

After a little research I discovered Derek Walcott to be an amazing man, an artist, poet, professor and playwright. Acknowledged as the greatest living poet in the English language, he won the Nobel prize for Literature in 1992. He taught at Boston University for 20 years. Turns out he also taught in Canada. In 2009, Walcott began a three-year distinguished scholar-in-residence position at the University of Alberta. In 2010, he became Professor of Poetry at the University of Essex.

Born in Saint Lucia, Derek Walcott was influenced by his mixed racial and cultural heritage. He married a Trinidadian, raised a family there, and built the Trinidad Theatre Workshop. For someone who was in search of his own identity, both as a person and an artist, this poem represents a coming back to one’s essential self. It resonates deeply with the thousands who have read it. It was first published in Sea Grapes, and later in Derek Walcott, Collected Poems, 1948-1984, and The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013.

Here are a few videos worth watching: a BBC documentary, Derek Walcott; an interesting Canadian TV interview, Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott on his life and work; and a poetry reading: Derek Walcott: The Perpetual Ideal is Astonishment | 92Y Readings. Here is a more recent poetry reading at the 92nd Street Y: Derek Walcott with Glyn Maxwell and Caryl Phillips.

Listen to this excellent July 13, 2014 BBC Radio 4 interview where Nobel Laureate poet Derek Walcott talks about his life and work at home on St Lucia: Derek Walcott: A Fortunate Traveller (28 mins).

A Blessing of Solitude by John O’Donohue, from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, profoundly complements this theme by Derek Walcott.

Here is a video excerpt of Derek Walcott reciting his poem, Love after Love, in a new documentary film, Poetry is an Island, Derek Walcott, by Ida Does. You can also see an interview with Derek Walcott by DBSTV St.Lucia in May 2014 in St.Lucia where he comments on the film.

For more information on the film visit www.walcottfilm.com and check facebook.com/PoetryIsAnIsland for the DVD release date.

Videos of MUM 2014 Graduation with Jim Carrey

May 31, 2014

Visit http://www.mum.edu/graduation-2014 to see videos of Maharishi University of Management’s 2014 Graduation ceremonies. And this link for a press release with a video and photos at http://link.mum.edu/carrey. From there you can also access Jim’s full Commencement Address, his honorary degree award, as well as the 2014 MUM Graduation Valedictorian Speech and 2014 MUM Graduation Salutatorian Speech, and the Full Graduation Ceremony, all embedded there.

Paresh Dave of The LA Times just published Could these be the best commencement speeches of 2014? and Jim’s address is 7th in the top 10! See: Some Reports on @JimCarrey’s Commencement Speech at MUM @MaharishiU #mumgraduation, for a review of some of the amazing news coverage, including two JPEGs of articles not available online. That post has the B-roll footage embedded in it. A little longer is this Highlights video, minus the joke Jim pulls on Bevan, in the third video.

Other videos will be added next week: Dr. Craig Pearson’s introduction, as well as Dr. Bevan Morris’s impressive introduction to Jim Carrey. In it he told a story about Judd Apatow, who, early in his career as a young standup comic, was opening for Jim Carrey. After seeing Jim perform and the response from the audience, Judd decided to quit comedy. He said “Jim Carrey is funniest man on earth. This is something we can all agree on. We can debate forever number two but Jim will always be the king.” Until that video is available, I share this story so you’ll more fully appreciate the humor in the Valedictorian’s opening remarks.


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