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#1993 - Saturday, December 4, 2004 - Editor: Gloria


Today is the birthday of Rainier Maria Rilke, born in Prague (1875).


Rilke wrote:

"It is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it. To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation."



Rilke kept silence as a poet for twelve years before writing Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus, which are concerned with 'the identity of terror and bliss' and 'the oneness of life and death'. Duino Elegies was born in two bursts of inspiration separated by ten years.  In 1910-1912 Rilke was for some time the guest of Princess Marie von Thurn und Taxis-Hohenlohe at Duino, her castle near Trieste. According to a story, Rilke heard in the wind the first lines of his elegies when he was walking on the rocks above the sea - "Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels' / hierarchies?" All ten may be found online by various translators, this one is by Stephen Mitchell.



The First Elegy

Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels' hierarchies?

and even if one of them pressed me suddenly against his heart:
I would be consumed in that overwhelming existence.
For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we are still just able to endure,

and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
Every angel is terrifying.
And so I hold myself back and swallow the call-note of my dark sobbing.
Ah, whom can we ever turn to in our need?
Not angels, not humans, and already the knowing animals are aware

that we are not really at home in our interpreted world.
Perhaps there remains for us some tree on a hillside, which every day we can take into our vision;

there remains for us yesterday's street and the loyalty of a habit so much at ease

when it stayed with us that it moved in and never left.
Oh and night: there is night, when a wind full of infinite space gnaws at our faces.
Whom would it not remain for--that longed-after, mildly disillusioning presence,

which the solitary heart so painfully meets.
Is it any less difficult for lovers?
But they keep on using each other to hide their own fate.
Don't you know yet?
Fling the emptiness out of your arms into the spaces we breathe;

perhaps the birds will feel the expanded air with more passionate flying.




"Do all you can  
with what you have
in the time you have
in the place you are."

~Nkosi Johnson
(an 11 year old boy just before he died with AIDS.)

From a wonderful page called, "Undying Love," on "Panhala."

also posted on Daily Dharma



Understanding transforms


If while we practice we are not aware that the world is suffering, that children are dying of hunger, that social injustice is going on everywhere, we are not practicing mindfulness. We are trying to escape. But anger is not enough. Jesus told us to love our enemy. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." This teaching helps us know how to look at the person we consider to be the cause of our suffering. If we practice looking deeply into his situation and the causes of how he came to be the way he is now, and if visualize ourselves as being born in his condition, we may see that we could have become exactly like him. When we do that, compassion arises in us naturally, and we see that the other person is to be helped and not punished. In that moment, our anger transforms itself into the energy of compassion. Suddenly, the one we have been calling our enemy becomes our brother or sister. This is the true teaching of Jesus. Looking deeply is one of the most effective ways to transform our anger, prejudices, and discrimination. We practice as an individual, and we also practice as a group. 




    p. 83


posted on MillionPaths



Bob would love it if each of you would post a prayer, a wish or
whatever comes to mind that would give him strength. Trust can be something meaningful to you....whatever.

Dear Bob:

this morning at a meeting one colleague stated there
was something he had to face but alluded to it with
only a short descriptor. i asked him if he was willing
to share what it was about. he opened up and talked at
length about a very powerful painful experience that
blew everyone away. afterwards, others admitted they
were too afraid to ask him. and yet they were all glad
that he had opened up. so i take the chances i take
elsewhere, and will write here as i would speak anywhere.
while i am drawn to silence and listening mostly, i feel
my heart rise in response to Vicki's query to the list.

it is hard to love, even to love a stranger, and yet it
is also unavoidable when there is the sharing of truth.
when we choose to love, and do we even choose that(?),
it is the beginning of watching another piece of our
self exposed, unprotected, undefendable. we place
an open heart walking separate, walking in the world,
vulnerable. and whether that love be of a child, one's
partner, one's parent, one's friend, or someone else
one knows, it opens one up the possibility and reality
of loss. to fully feel the love, means allowing this
bittersweet grief to arise as a twin companion. it is
with this mixture i write to you. while you do not know
me, i have cared about you since first introduced to
Vicki's writings through NonDualHighlights. i guess i
hope you know, Bob, that you have touched and will
continue to touch many people's hearts, as has your wife.

today among other visits, a young boy came who had been
in and out of many homes and abused over and over before
he was even 5. we began to list all the foster homes he
had been in since, up to the present. this boy sat there
mutely while his foster mom helped him share how terrified
he was of even coming to counselling, how he barely even
speaks with her after knowing her now for several years.
i spoke to him of how when one is so little and a heart
gets broken, it becomes more and more afraid to trust, to
even attempt to "attach", or care. i watched as he began
nodding as i talked. i said no doubt you're not sure, and
that's fine. this is how you keep yourself safe. you will
know when you can talk with me...and he nodded and began
to breathe. and i knew our work would be about loving again
even amidst all this loss.

another visit was with a woman who had spent quite a bit
of time with Papaji years before. she was sitting hours
early waiting for satsang from another teacher. i sat down
and asked how are you? she said you don't want to know. i
was silent. then as she was shaking with tears, i said you
can talk. she began to speak. she was temporarily believing
she could not be present with the suffering that was arising.
and that something was wrong with her because she was in pain.
we talked of how creating the space for truth is the invitation
for all that is still suffering to come, to be seen. and that
unlike some popular stories of what awareness brings, in truth,
within awareness, all arises, all is included. how it is so
easy to disown ourselves, or some part of our experience. being
aware simply increases the capacity to fully feel.

and here you are, dealing with terminal cancer.
i don't know what your direct experience is now, only that
you are in it. and no second hand story can give you your
answers. that just like all of us, what is started will
play out, and is unavoidable. and yet what is calling, is
freedom. freedom from suffering. and that this is what
calls all of us in our journey. freedom is the promise
inherent in our journey, in this willingness to be here,
and this core of freedom is untouched by suffering even
as it contains all suffering.

so as i write this i ask myself what wishes to be spoken?
what can i do or say? and it comes, i can do nothing.
but i, like you, can be present. i can be with the young
boy when he returns, and i can be with this woman when i
see her again, and i can be with myself as i am now, and
i can be, just be, with what is here. while we all face
our journey alone, we also are never alone, and as
paradoxical as it sounds or repeated into meaninglessness,
i have experienced the truth of this. and your dear heart
Vicki will not be alone. she has so much love around her,
and i can tell you as long as she will be willing, she
will be listened to and regardless of willing, will be cared

i do not know who you talk to, but if you choose to talk,
know that it is a gift to share this part of your journey
with others. i have always treasured the opportunity my
father gave me by talking openly during his experience.
in other cases, i have been the anonymous one, confided in,
who was not a family member. sometimes it is easier to
speak about one's process with someone one doesn't wish
to protect. i have the hope that you have your own
listening attention that will provide space to really
hear your answer of what it is like for you now, in
whatever form it is expressed.

all any of us seek is to be able to rest. to be able to
really let go and to rest fully in who we are. whatever
you have in front of you, i pray that you can release all
that is in your way that may prevent you from being at
ease. i pray that you are able to let go of all burdens
that no longer require being carried. i pray that you and
all of us continue to keep our hearts open, to take the
chance to continue loving knowing that in this moment,
that is all there really is. no one has a million
guaranteed moments or even three. we all have only this
moment containing our individual struggles to make it
anything other than what it is, and/or our willingness
to remain present. sometimes the truth is, well, that
is for each of us, to know in our own way, to come to
terms within our own way.

my prayer is that you know fully, that it is truly ok
to be who you are, exactly as you are now, and that as
you are moving through the most profound and illuminating
experience we will all come to face, that you know there is
nothing you have to do, nothing at all, that just being
yourself is enough. the love you and Vicki have shared
and the courage you each show in facing what is here,
spills over for us all.

blessings for you and all those around you,



Catch me when I fall


If we are all part of the universal consciousness, will it catch me when I fall?  When friends wrote letters to my husband, who has incurable cancer, he wept.  This is not something that he does very often, but I think he felt the net had been put in place and that he could fall.  How often do we trust that this will be so?  Does it take years of suffering before we admit our fragile state of existence in this temporary world...the relative world, as the Sufis call it.

"My strength is made perfect in weakness," says the Christ-consciousness. Does our very weakness comprise the net in which we can fall.  I remember my brother telling me, many years ago, to lean back and let God catch me.  I was flying to
Europe with my husband, my first and only time to do that, and I was very anxious.  I tried to do what he said, but my own effort blocked the ease I so badly needed.  The ego is a fortress of pain constructed of thought.  That is the human predicament.

Zen teachings point us to the truth that all of life is suffering.  I can attest to that.  But conscious suffering can free us from mechanical suffering.  When we remember that we are all one, the net of unity becomes strong enough to catch us.  All we really want is to let go.

As my husband's illness requires more and more of me, I get tireder and tireder.  Does the physical body know how to rest if we have the sense to allow it plenty of time to do so?  Do the emotions have the wisdom to quiet down and contemplate peace.  No.  Only awareness of something higher can dissolve the dissatisfaction.  Only light can relax us while we are struggling in the dark.

As I walk the spiritual path carrying my daily burdens, I forget that I can release them and just sit down and rest.  My mind blocks out this vital truth and before I know it, I am exhausted.  That is why a good strong spiritual practice takes tending.  It requires as much attention as a growing child.  It must be fed far more than three times a day.  Sometimes it will wake you up at night and ask you to soothe it.  But why, I think.  It is supposed to soothe me.  But the opposites are not that easily figured out.  I find that paying attention to my pain in the right way helps to disperse it.  Go figure.

At the very end of the path is a light--that I have heard.  I have also heard that it is at the very beginning and at all points in-between.  I have also heard it rumored that we are the path, the light and each other.  It's a good thing that we can fall into that net when we choose to do so.  Is it in the mind or in the spirit?  As we ask ourselves this question, it is good to know that there is no answer, that we are the answer and that is why we cannot be told.  We must be one with the question, that is all.  That is the net that can hold us.

Vicki Woodyard

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