Seeing the Waterfall

Image: 'New York Movie,' by Edward Hopper

[Image: “New York Movie,” by Edward Hopper (1939, oil on canvas; in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. (Found this image at WikiArt.)]

From whiskey river’s commonplace book:

What’s Not Here

I start out on this road, call it
love or emptiness. I only know what’s

not here: resentment seeds, back-
scratching greed, worrying about out-

come, fear of people. When a bird gets
free, it doesn’t go back for remnants

left on the bottom of the cage! Close
by, I’m rain. Far off, a cloud of fire.

I seem restless, but I am deeply at ease.
Branches tremble; the roots are still.

I am a universe in a handful of dirt,
whole when totally demolished. Talk

about choices does not apply to me.
While intelligence considers options,

I am somewhere lost in the wind.

(Jalaloddin Rumi [source])

…and:

While we usually think of it as our mind, when we look honestly, we see that the mind follows its own nature, conditions, and laws. Your mind is like a puppy. You put the puppy down and say “Stay.” Does the puppy listen? It gets up and it runs away. You sit the puppy back down again. “Stay.” And the puppy runs away over and over again. Sometimes the puppy runs over and pees in the corner or makes some other mess. This is how our minds behave, only they create even bigger messes. In training the mind, like training a puppy, we have to start over and over again. Frustration comes with the territory. Nothing in our culture or our schooling has taught us how to transcend ordinary consciousness and reach for the dizzying heights of cosmic truths. You simply pick up the puppy again and return to reconnect with the here and now.

(Helen Palmer [source])

…and:

What do we see when we look at the mind? Constant change. In the traditional scriptures the untrained and unconcentrated mind is referred to as a mad monkey. As we look for ourselves, we see that it is like a circus or a zoo in there. The parrot, the sloth, the mouse, the tiger, the bear, and the silent owl are all represented. It is like a flywheel of spinning thoughts, emotions, images, stories, likes, dislikes, and so forth. There is ceaseless movement, filled with plans, ideas, and memories. Seeing this previously unconscious stream of inner dialogue is for many people the first insight in practice. It is called seeing the waterfall. Already we begin to learn about the nature of mind. Its constant changes are like the weather; today it rains, tonight it may snow, earlier the sun was out. Sometimes it’s muddy in the spring, and then the summer comes and the winds come. In the fall the leaves go; in winter the ice forms.

(Jack Kornfield [source])

…and:

riddle:
What is the last thing that a fish would ever discover?

answer:
water

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“After the Ecstasy, the Laundry”

[Video: “Behind the scenes” look at the making of a pop-up “art book,” Everyday Wonders, which was created to advertise the features of a new Samsung smartphone. (The advertisement itself is here.)]

From whiskey river:

Pastoral

There are so many messages I can’t interpret.
The hundred maples at the edge of my street shout orange, orange,
orange, in silent voices. And may say more if I could decipher.

How I want to understand the many calls of the birds migrating through
on their long journey. And what is the message of the shaggy
wave-curled sea quarreling around the black rocks out at the far point?

Perhaps words themselves wander off into other fields, like sheep lost
in the depths of the hills beyond the local hills so the shepherd has to
go climbing up and down, his legs aching, his breath heavy
in his chest until he spies them off there under

that far evergreen, and wrestles them down and brings them home.

(Patricia Fargnoli [source])

and:

Anyone can see that if grasping and aversion were with us all day and night without ceasing, who could ever stand them? Under that condition, living things would either die or become insane. Instead, we survive because there are natural periods of coolness, of wholeness, and ease. In fact, they last longer than the fires of our grasping and fear. It is this that sustains us. We have periods of rest making us refreshed, alive, well. Why don’t we feel thankful for this everyday Nirvana?

We already know how to let go — we do it every night when we go to sleep, and that letting go, like a good night’s sleep, is delicious. Opening in this way, we can live in the reality of our wholeness. A little letting go brings us a little peace, a greater letting go brings us a greater peace. Entering the gateless gate, we begin to treasure the moments of wholeness. We begin to trust the natural rhythm of the world, just as we trust our own sleep and how our own breath breathes itself.

(Jack Kornfield [source])

and:

Use what you have, use what the world gives you. Use the first day of fall: bright flame before winter’s deadness; harvest; orange, gold, amber; cool nights and the smell of fire. Our tree-lined streets are set ablaze, our kitchens filled with the smells of nostalgia: apples bubbling into sauce, roasting squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, cider, warmth itself. The leaves as they spark into wild color just before they die are the world’s oldest performance art, and everything we see is celebrating one last violently hued hurrah before the black and white silence of winter.

(Shauna Niequist [source])

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The Line Between Should and Do

Modal verbs

[Image: The English translation — with original emphasis — is, “Daughter, you have to go out and become rich.” Found it at the Grimm Grammar site of the University of Texas, which uses 36 characters from the classic fairy tales to illustrate how German grammar works; the characters above are Cinderella’s stepmother and a (bored, dissolute) stepsister. This illustration accompanies the discussion of modal verbs.]

From whiskey river:

We continually look and hope for a new, special thing that is going to last or make us happy, fulfill our needs, answer all our questions. In actuality, what are we going to get? We will get more seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking. That’s it. That’s what life is.

(Jack Kornfield [source])

and:

What the Living Do
(excerpt)

…We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss — we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living…

(Marie Howe [source])

and:

The Moment

Oh, the coming-out-of-nowhere moment
when,   nothing
happens
no what-have-I-to-do-today-list

maybe  half a moment
the rush of traffic stops.
The whir of I should be, I should be, I should be
slows to silence,
the white cotton curtains hanging still.

(Marie Howe [source])

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