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#1882 - Friday, August 6, 2004 - Editor: Gloria

      All truly wise thoughts have been thought
already thousands of times;
but to make them truly ours,
we must think them over again honestly,
until they take root in our personal experience.  

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe  

    by Al Larus    

All the True Vows  

All the true vows
are secret vows
the ones we speak out loud
are the ones we break.

There is only one life
you can call your own
and a thousand others
you can call by any name you want.

Hold to the truth you make
every day with your own body,
don't turn your face away.

Hold to your own truth
at the center of the the image
you were born with.

Those who do not understand
their destiny will never understand
the friends they have made
nor the work they have chosen

nor the one life that waits
beyond all the others.

By the lake in the wood
in the shadows
you can
whisper that truth
to the quiet reflection
you see in the water.

Whatever you hear from
the water, remember,

it wants you to carry
the sound of its truth on your lips.

in this place
no one can hear you

and out of the silence
you can make a promise
it will kill you to break,

that way you'll find
what is real and what is not.

I know what I am saying.
Time almost forsook me
and I looked again.

Seeing my reflection
I broke a promise
and spoke
for the first time
after all these years

in my own voice,

before it was too late
to turn my face again.

David Whyte

-- from The House of Belonging

    A man without charity in his heart-what has he to do with ceremonies? A man without charity in his heart-what has he to do with music?

It is the spirit of charity which makes a locality good to dwell in. He who selects a neighbourhood without regard to this quality cannot be considered wise.


Lionel Giles, Ed. The Sayings of Confucius. Boston: Charles E. Tuttle, 1993, pp. 55-56.


      The Orphan

Oh! The dream, the dream!
My sturdy gilded wagon
Has broken down
Its wheels have scattered like gypsies everywhere.
One night I dream of spring
And when I woke
Flowers had covered my pillow.
I dreamt once of the sea
And in the morning
My bed was full of shells and fins of fishes
But when I dreamt of freedom
Spears were surrounding my neck
Like the morning halo.
From now on you will not find me
In ports or among trains
But there … in public libraries
Falling asleep over the maps of the world
(As the orphan sleeps on the pavement)
Where my lips touch more than one river
And my tears stream
From continent to continent.


Muhammad al Maghut, "The Orphan," translated by May Jayyusi and John Heath-Stubbs, from Modern Arabic Poetry: An Anthology, edited by Salma Khadra Jayyusi. Copyright 1987 by Columbia University Press.

zhu men jiu rou chou
lu you dong si gu

Behind the gates of the wealthy
food lies rotting from waste
Outside it's the poor
who lie frozen to death

  The  8th century Chinese poet Du Fu.   

Daily Dharma    

This is a true story of a woman who was on a retreat where the
participants would live on the streets for a week with no money,
etc. with Bernie Glassman leading.

"Eve once walked with an empty Styrofoam cup in her hand from coffee
shop to coffee shop around Tompkins Square Park, but wherever she
went people said no.

She was pretty discouraged when she finally went to a run-down store
selling newspapers and candy, with two burners for coffee. She asked
for a cup of coffee. He said no. She asked again, and he said no.

Then she heard a man's voice next to her saying, "I'll buy her a
cup." She turned to thank him as he put his hand into his pocket for
the coins she noticed how he was dressed.

His clothes were shabby and his shoes were torn. He wore no socks.
But without another word he took out fifty cents and put the money
on the counter.
  Later she told me, "

A poor man, probably someone from the streets,
bought me a cup of coffee. All the people I asked with money said
no, but he said yes."

From the book, "Bearing Witness," published by Bell Tower.    


Mirabai was a famous sixteenth-century poet from northern India. As a passionate devotee of the Hindu god Krishna , she chose a religious life of wandering. In "The Wild Woman of the Forests," she celebrates the love and wisdom of a pious, low-caste woman living alone in the forests.

The Wild Woman of the Forests

The wild woman of the forests
Discovered the sweet plums by tasting,
And brought them to her Lord –
She who was neither cultured nor lovely,
She who was filthy in disarrayed clothes,
She of the lowest castes.
But the Lord, seeing her heart,
Took the ruined plums from her hand.
She saw no difference between low and high,
Wanting only the milk of his presence.
Illiterate, she never studied the Teachings –
A single turn of the chariot’s wheel
Brought her to Knowledge.
Now she is bound to the Storm Bodied One.
By gold cords of Love, and wanders
his woods.
Servant Mira says:
Whoever can love like this will be saved.
My Master lifts all that is fallen,
And from the beginning I have been the handmaiden
Herding cows by his side

Mirabai, "The Wild Woman of the Forests." from Jane Hirshfield, ed., Women in Praise of the Sacred: Forty-three Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1994). Copyright (c) 1994 by Jane Hirshfield


Cry Out in Your Weakness

A dragon was pulling a bear into its terrible mouth.

A courageous man went and rescued the bear.
There are such helpers in the world, who rush to save
anyone who cries out. Like Mercy itself,
they run toward the screaming.

And they can’t be bought off.
If you were to ask one of those, "Why did you come
so quickly?" he or she would say, "Because I heard
your helplessness."
          Where lowland is,
that’s where water goes. All medicine wants
is pain to cure.
          And don’t just ask for one mercy.
Let them flood in. Let the sky open under your feet.
Take the cotton out of your ears, the cotton
of consolations, so you can hear the sphere-music.

Push the hair out of your eyes.
Blow the phlegm from your nose,
and from your brain.

Let the wind breeze through.
Leave no residue in yourself from that bilious fever.
Take the cure for impotence,
that your manhood may shoot forth,
and a hundred new beings come of your coming.

Tear the binding from around the foot
of your soul, and let it race around the track
in front of the crowd. Loosen the knot of greed
so tight on your neck. Accept your new good luck.

Give your weakness
to one who helps.

Crying out loud and weeping are great resources.
A nursing mother, all she does
is wait to hear her child.

Just a little beginning-whimper,
and she’s there.

God created the child, that is your wanting,
so that it might cry out, so that milk might come.

Cry out! Don’t be stolid and silent
with your pain. Lament! And let the milk
of loving flow into you.

The hard rain and wind
are ways the cloud has
to take care of us.

Be patient.
Respond to every call
that excites your spirit.

Ignore those that make you fearful
and sad, that degrade you
back toward disease and death.

Jelaluddin Rumi, "Cry out in Your Weakness." The Essential Rumi. Trans. Coleman Barks, with John Moyne, A. J. Arberry, and Reynold Nicholson. Edison, New Jersey: Castle, 1997, pp. 156-157.

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