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Tag Archives: reflective practices

Nothing Left to See Through

This poem arrived today. I waited for it and did not chase after it. When I read it, the words spoke to me.

The Zen Master Ryōkan reminded me that change is inevitable. It happens. Like yesterday’s post, chasing after and holding things, as if they were permanent, is done in vain.

To take time, to be mindful, and sit quietly can bring peace in which one can discover the essence of things and understand mistaken views. Hans-Georg Gadamer said dialogue begins not through shared understanding, but mis-understanding. This includes inner dialogue one has with ones’ self.

Past has passed away.

Future has not arrived.

Present does not remain.

Nothing is reliable; everything must change.

You hold on to letters and names in vain,

forcing yourself to believe in them.

Stop chasing new knowledge.

Leave old views behind.

Study the essential

and then see through it.

When there is nothing left to see through,

then you will know your mistaken views.

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Whispers of Love

Rumi used paradoxical language in his poetry. Whenever I read his poetry, I find myself searching for the meaning of those words.

In this poem, I think he is suggesting that, when a person feels wanted and loved, there is a sense of belonging. A person can surrender to love, when they are cared for, belonging in a relationship.

The reciprocity of love makes one whole, healing them. The title proposes that love is quiet and a person has to listen closely, still themselves and their thoughts to hear the call addressing them. In this sense, love is a mindful and attentive way of living.

Love whispers in my ear,

Better to be a prey than a hunter.

Make yourself My fool.

Stop trying to be the sun and become a speck!

Dwell at My door and be homeless.

Dont pretend to be a candle, be a moth,

so you may taste the savor of Life

and know the power hidden in serving.”

The Archer’s Need to Win

To just be in the moment and be present to what one is doing takes us beyond the need to win and not lose. In the last line of this poem, Chuang Tzu reminds us that the need to win or not to lose drains the archer of his power.

Several years ago, we visited our son and his family. At the time, our grandson was about 5 months old. We went for dinner our last evening and, after I finished eating, I took him. I was in front of a mirrored wall. When he noticed there was a little boy in the mirror, our grandson played with that little boy for about 5-10 minutes, until he became tired. He had no other goal than to play and just be in that moment.

We lose that childlike way and those purely phenomenological moments of just being in the world. Remembering is being mindful and calling something to mind. When we do so, Parker Palmer wrote that to re-member is to make and keep one’s self whole.

When an archer is shooting for fun
He has all his skill.

If he shoots for a brass buckle
He is already nervous.

If he shoots for a prize of gold
He goes blind

Or sees two targets –
He is out of his mind.

His skill has not changed,
But the prize divides him.

He cares
He thinks more of winning
Than of shooting –
And the need to win
Drains him of power.

A Gift

Hans-Georg Gadamer described eloquent questions, as questions that do not have pre-supposed answers. Eloquent questions become and bound dialogue.

I used eloquent questions in my dissertation to explore how teachers experience using curriculum. Instead of arriving as a prescribed text with fixed answers, curriculum transforms into questions. Each student’s and teacher’s lived-experiences transform into questions held gently so as not to injure. The word transform means to go beyond the existing form and through the gift of dialogue and eloquent questions we can.

Denise Levertov‘s poem is about holding other’s questions as if they are fragile and are the answers to one’s own questions. Questions are gifts. When we watch a child open a gift, the joy is in watching them turn the gift to explore it from different angles. After all, differences make a difference.

Just when you seem to yourself
nothing but a flimsy web
of questions, you are given
the questions of others to hold
in the emptiness of your hands,
songbird eggs that can still hatch
if you keep them warm,
butterflies opening and closing themselves
in your cupped palms, trusting you not to injure
their scintillant fur, their dust.
You are given the questions of others
as if they were answers
to all you ask. Yes, perhaps
this gift is your answer.

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