Hell & Heaven

Image result for tao"There’s another story that you may have read that has to do with what we call heaven and hell, life and death, good and bad. It’s a story about how those things don’t really exist except as a creation of our own minds. It goes like this: A big burly samurai comes to the wise man and says, “Tell me the nature of heaven and hell.” And the roshi looks him in the face and says: “Why should I tell a scruffy, disgusting, miserable slob like you?” The samurai starts to get purple in the face, his hair starts to stand up, but the roshi won’t stop, he keeps saying, “A miserable worm like you, do you think I should tell you anything?” Consumed by rage, the samurai draws his sword, and he’s just about to cut off the head of the roshi. Then the roshi says, “That’s hell.” The samurai, who is in fact a sensitive person, instantly gets it, that he just created his own hell; he was deep in hell. It was black and hot, filled with hatred, self-protection, anger, and resentment, so much so that he was going to kill this man. Tears fill his eyes and he starts to cry and he puts his palms together and the roshi says, “That’s heaven.”
(Pema Chodron – From her book Awakening Loving Kindness)

a puddle in the pig lot

Brilliant and gorgeous day, bright sun, breeze making all the leaves and high brown grass shine. Singing of the wind in the cedars. Exultant day, in which a puddle in the pig lot shines like precious silver.

Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself – and, if I accept myself fully in the right way, I will already have surpassed myself.
– Thomas Merton, journal entry – October 2, 1958

farm farmer pink ears

Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

look at humanity

Look at humanity, how lacking in light people are,
how they perish out of desire for perishable things.

Because of pride they keep separate from God,
dead to the spirit, living a lie.

Isn’t it amazing how their spirits are imprisoned,
while all the while they hold the key in their hands!

– Rumi

(Photo: Florence – July 2002)

found drawing – 12.22.2016

20190915_103159.jpg

hours after
winter solstice

the day I wanted to die,
tried, and failed

I had failed at success
and succeeded in failure

today and every day
I am grateful for life

(… Some speak of the future
My love she speaks softly
She knows there’s no success like failure
And that failure’s no success at all…)
– 
Bob Dylan, Love Minus Zero/No Limit

West Wall – W. S. Merwin

In the unmade light I can see the world
as the leaves brighten I see the air
the shadows melt and the apricots appear
now that the branches vanish I see the apricots
from a thousand trees ripening in the air
they are ripening in the sun along the west wall
apricots beyond number are ripening in the daylight

Whatever was there
I never saw those apricots swaying in the light
I might have stood in orchards forever
without beholding the day in the apricots
or knowing the ripeness of the lucid air
or touching the apricots in your skin
or tasting in your mouth the sun in the apricots

–from The Rain In The Trees

We are more than our anger

You have to believe this. We are more than our anger; we are more than our suffering. We must recognize that we do have within us the capacity to love, to understand, to be compassionate. If you know this, then when it rains you won’t be desperate. You know that the rain is there, but the sunshine is still there somewhere. Soon the rain will stop, and the sun will shine again. Have hope. If you can remind yourself that the positive elements are still present within you and the other person, you will know that it is possible to break through, so that the best things in both of you can come up and manifest again.

– Thich Nhat Hanh

(photo: Abiquiu, NM – September 2018)

love laughs at the end of the world

Sooner or later the world must burn and all things in it – all the books, the cloister together with the brothel, Fra Angelico together with the Lucky Strike ads…Sooner or later it will all be consumed by fire and nobody will be left, for by that time the last man in the universe will have discovered the bomb capable of destroying the universe and will have been unable to resist the temptation to throw the thing and get it over with.
And here I sit writing a diary.
But Love laughs at the end of the world because Love is the door to eternity. He who loves is playing on the doorstep of eternity, and before anything can happen, Love will have drawn him over the sill and closed the door. He won’t bother about the world burning because he will know nothing but Love.
– Thomas Merton, Journal, October 10, 1948