Readings

Please e-mail your favorite readings.

So Recklessly Exposed

December and January, gone.
Tulips coming up. It’s time to watch
how trees stagger in the wind
and roses never rest.

Wisteria and jasmine twist on themselves.
Violet kneels to hyacinth, who bows.

Narcissus winks, wondering what will
the lightheaded willow say
of such slow dancing by cypress.

Painters come outdoors with brushes.
I love their hands.

The birds sing suddenly and all at once.
The soul says Ya Hu, quietly.

A dove calls, Where, ku?
Soul, you will find it.

Now the roses show their breasts.
No one hides when the Friend arrives.

The rose speaks openly to the nightingale.
Notice how the green lily has several tongues
but still keeps her secret.

Now the nightingale sings this love
that is so recklessly exposed, like you.

~Rumi

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for,
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love,
your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow,
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain!

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own,
if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you,
to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you’re telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another and be true to yourself;
if you can bear the acccusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.

I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day and if you can source your life from God’s presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of a lake, and shout to the silver of the full moon,,,, “YES”!!!!!!

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live, or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair,
weary and brused to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you are, or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It dosen’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself, and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

~Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~Mary Oliver

A Certain Sharpness in the Morning Air

In the morning
it shuffles, unhurried,
across the wet fields
in its black slippers,
in its coal-colored coat
with the white stripe like a river
running down its spine–
a glossy animal with a quick temper
and two bulbs of such diatribe under its tail
that when I see it I pray
not to be noticed–
not to be strick
by the flat boards of its anger–
for the whole haul of its smell
is unendurable–
like tragedy
that can’t be borne,
like death
that has to be buried, or burned–
but a little of it is another story–
for it’s tru, isn’t it,
in our world,
that the petals pooled with nectar, and the polished thorns
are a single thing–
that even the curest light, lacking the robe of darkness,
would be without expression–
that love itself, without its pain, would be
no more than a shruggable comfort.
Lately, I have noticed, when the skunk’s temper has tilted in the distance,
and the acids are floating everywhere,
and I am touched, it is all, even in my nostrils and my throat, as the brushing of thorns,
and I stand there
thinking of the old, wild life of the fields, when, as I remember it,
I was shaggy, and beautiful,
like the rose.

~Mary Oliver

“Just Be What You Are”

Drop all impatience
Drop all frustrations;
Just be what you are
Just be what you are.

There is no need for projection
There is no need to create impression;
Just be what you are
Just be what you are.

Stop this fighting with yourself
Stop this struggle with yourself;
Stop being sad with yourself
Stop further hurting yourself;
Just be what you are
Just be what you are.

You do not have to become something
You do not have to achieve something;
Just be what you are
Just be what you are.

Accept yourself as you are
Love yourself as you are;
Just be what you are
Just be what you are.

~ Swamiji

Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety –
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light –
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

~ Mary Oliver

Untitled

Strawberries are too delicate to be picked by machine. The perfectly ripe ones even bruise at too heavy a human touch. It hit her then that every strawberry she had ever eaten-every piece of fruit-had been picked by calloused human hands. Every piece of toast with jelly represented someone’s knees, someone’s aching back and hips, someone with a bandanna on her wrist to wipe away the sweat. Why had no one told her about this before?

- Alison Luterman, “What They Came For”

August

When the blackberries hang
swollen in the woods, in the brambles
nobody owns, I spend

all day among the high
branches, reaching
my ripped arms, thinking

of nothing, cramming
the black honey of summer
into my mouth; all day my body

accepts what it is. In the dark
creeks that run by there is
this thick paw of my life darting among

the black bells, the leaves; there is
this happy tongue.

~Mary Oliver

Peace

Peace flows into me
As the tide to the pool by the shore;
It is mine forevermore,
It ebbs not back like the sea.

I am the pool of blue
That worships the vivid sky;
My hopes were heaven-high,
They are all fulfilled in you.

I am the pool of gold
When sunset burns and dies—
You are my deepening skies,
Give me your stars to hold.

By Sara Teasdale from Love Songs (1917)

Untitled, prayer written by Bapuji, Swami Sri Kripalvananda  

My beloved child,
break your heart no longer.
Each time you judge yourself,
you break your own heart,
you stop feeding on the love
which is the wellspring of your vitality.
The time has come. Your time.
To live. To Celebrate.
And to see the goodness that you are.
You, my child, are divine.
You are pure.
You are sublimely free.
You are God in disguise.
And you are always perfectly safe.
Do not fight the dark.
Just turn on the light.
Let go.
And breathe into the goodness that you are.
 

Untitled

You are the sky and the ground.
You alone, the day and the night air.

You are the meal that’s being brought,
the sandal knot, flowers and their watering.

You are all this.
What could I possibly bring You!

~Lalla~
Translation by Coleman Barks

 

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
~ Rumi ~
 

The Seed Market

Can you find another market like this?
Where,with your one rose
you can buy hundreds of rose gardens?
Where,for one seed
get a whole wilderness?
For one weak breath,
a divine wind?
You’ve been fearful
of being absorbed in the ground,
or drawn up by the air.
Now, your waterbead lets go
and drops into the ocean,
where it came from.
It no longer has the form it had,
but it’s still water
The essence is the same.
This giving up is not a repenting.
It’s a deep honoring of yourself.
When the ocean comes to you as a lover,
marry at once, quickly,
for God’s sake!
Don’t postpone it!
Existence has no better gift.
No amount of searching
will find this.
A perfect falcon, for no reason
has landed on your shoulder,
and become yours.

~Rumi~
(The Essential Rumi, versions by Coleman Barks)
 

Sleeping in the Forest

I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.

~Mary Oliver ~
 

Letting Go

Letting go is letting God.
Letting God is letting love.
Letting love is extending love,
extending patience and tolerance.
It is being quick to see, slow to misunderstand.
Letting love is relaxing, being still, accepting, submitting and enjoying.

~Hugh Prather~
from Notes to Eachother

 

Untitled

The soul, like the moon,
is new, and always new again.

And I have seen the ocean
continuously creating.

Since I scoured my mind
and my body, I too, Lalla,
am new, each moment new.

My teacher told me one thing,
Live in the soul.

When that was so,
I began to go naked,
and dance.

~Lalla~
Translations by Coleman Barks

2 Responses to “Readings”

  1. Ari says:

    Swami Kripalananda’s quote has an error: the line “And to see the Goddess that you are” should read “And to see the goodness that you are.” The other has its merits, but I thought you might appreciate the generally accepted form.

    Blessings,

    Ari

  2. Jen says:

    Hi Ari,

    Thanks for commenting and pointing out the error. I made the revision. I find the whole line even more appealing with the generally accepted ‘goodness’!

    Namaste,
    Jen

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