Sunday, October 31, 2010

Almost a Conversation

By Mary Oliver

I have not really, not yet, talked with otter

about his life.

He has so many teeth, he has trouble

with vowels.

Wherefore our understanding

is all body expression—

he swims like the sleekest fish,

he dives and exhales and lifts a trail of bubbles.

Little by little he trusts my eyes

and my curious body sitting on the shore.

Sometimes he comes close.

I admire his whiskers

and his dark fur which I would rather die than wear.

He has no words, still what he tells about his life

is clear.

He does not own a computer.

He imagines the river will last forever.

He does not envy the dry house I live in.

He does not wonder who or what it is that I worship.

He wonders, morning after morning, that the river

is so cold and fresh and alive, and still

I don't jump in.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Function of Relationship

Relationship is inevitably painful, which is shown in our everyday existence. If in relationship there is no tension, it ceases to be relationship and merely becomes a comfortable sleep-state, an opiate - which most people want and prefer. Conflict is between this craving for comfort and the factual, between illusion and actuality. If you recognise the illusion then you can, by putting it aside, give your attention to the understanding of relationship. But if you seek security in relationship, it becomes an investment in comfort, in illusion - and the greatness of relationship is its very insecurity. By seeking security in relationship you are hindering its function, which brings its own peculiar actions and misfortunes.

Surely, the function of relationship is to reveal the state of one's whole being. Relationship is a process of self-revelation, of self-knowledge. This self-revelation is painful, demanding constant adjustment, pliability of thought-emotion. It is a painful struggle with periods of enlightened peace…

But most of us avoid or put aside the tension is relationship, preferring the ease and comfort of satisfying dependency, an unchallenged security, a safe anchorage. Then family and other relationships become a refuge, the refuge of the thoughtless.

When insecurity creeps into dependency, as it inevitably does, then that particular relationship is cast aside and a new one taken on in the hope of finding lasting security; but there is no security in relationship, and dependency only breeds fear. Without understanding the process of security and fear, relationship becomes a binding hindrance, a way of ignorance. Then all existence is struggle and pain, and there is no way out of it save in right thinking, which comes through self-knowledge.

Book of Life, March 16

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Leaf Skeleton

I've crushed young saplings, silken wings,
and all things new and tender
a hundred different ways each day.

I've built fortresses separating Them
from Us, in all degrees of subtlety.
Words have found their way to the tongue
only because they'd been there before.
I've looked at myself in mirrors
just to see what I wanted to be.
Spoken to be heard, been silent in fear,
and loved to be loved in return.

I've crushed everything sacred and lovely
every hour, every day, and yet
this moment unfurls like a bud
opening to the world the first time --
delicate as the skeleton of a leaf,
holding no trace of what has been.