Mid morning —
The bird wobbles across the garden.
He picks a twig, lets it go.
He goes towards a fallen bougainvillea flower, turns away.
He flies onto a branch, sings a few notes.
We seem to always have a place to go,
a goal to reach,
a purpose to fulfill.
Couldn’t we just be aimless?
There may be some wisdom in this somewhere.
Inspiration: reading Chuang Tzu on a Spring morning in a garden.
“There are two kinds of intelligence: one acquired,
as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts
from books and from what the teacher says,
collecting information from the traditional sciences
as well as from the new sciences.
With such intelligence you rise in the world.
You get ranked ahead or behind others
in regard to your competence in retaining
information. You stroll with this intelligence
in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more
marks on your preserving tablets.
There is another kind of tablet, one
already completed and preserved inside you.
A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness
in the center of the chest. This other intelligence
does not turn yellow or stagnate. It’s fluid,
and it doesn’t move from outside to inside
through conduits of plumbing-learning.
This second knowing is a fountainhead
from within you, moving out.”
Rumi (XIIIth. C.)
Translation by Coleman Barks.
Often, I think I am in Ryōkan’s hut.
The sky is framed by the window,
birds come on the window sill chirping away
enthralled by the morning glory overflowing its small pot.
Cars pass intermittently in a muffled sound.
Rain falls gently on the roof
and I pretend it is thatched.
I sit like he did.
I push aside the woes of the world,
my mind at peace.
You may understand, you may not,
and that is fine.
As Ryōkan wrote,
“Who can indeed content himself with this manner of life,
Unless he has seen himself altogether lost in the world.”
– Quote from one of Ryōkan’s (Japan, 1758-1831) Chinese poems.
Art: self-portrait by Ryōkan.
The tree spreads its roots. The tree opens its branches to the sky and offers them for little birds to nest. It flowers with full splendor, and gives fruits and shade. The tree also brings rain.
The tree is potential displayed unabashed.
The tree is divine for its very existence, humble for its splendor, and generous for its nature.
The tree is not alone. All elements of nature display their beauty and give without limits. The moon shines and the sun warms. The night sky and the clouds are there for all to admire. Immense galaxies churn across the limitless universe. No tinkering is needed.
Mankind may have been thus once. Today, he is a being perpetually busy, disconnected from the cycle of day and night and seasons. Mankind is increasingly immersed in unhealthy dynamics of needing objects that add nothing to his being nor give to others. But for a few exceptions, he rarely looks up at the sky nor takes the time to remain in harmony with nature. A stunning sunset has become an exception; and to see beauty, he has to stand in line at a museum. Charity and compassion have become emotions displayed in full view, rather than natural and discreet inclines of his very existence. Anything that cannot be rationalized or objectified is rejected, even love, even grace.
The tree still stands effortlessly giving beauty without a spec of pride, but rather with infinite and divine humility. Mankind could learn a thing or two from the tree.
Inspirations: incomprehension of this busy and noisy world; love of trees; and the divine, the Tao.
« Oui, tout homme debout n’est qu’un souffle. »
Psaume 39 (6)
Inspiration: lecture à l’aube, le souffle primordial de Dieu, du Tao.
Open the ancient manuscripts of your heart
let your fingers trace the curves and the dots
then set them free to dance away the dust
so that light may finally shine in.
Inspiration: heartfelt conversation with a friend.
Feeble light from the winter sunset,
I hold the delicate white tea bowl.
Hoping to find stillness,
I let my thoughts float with the fragrant leaves.
Inspiration: Prajnaparamita Hridaya (The Heart Sutra).