Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

The important things are learned in faces,
in gestures,
not in our locked tongues.
The true things are too big or too small,
or in any case always the wrong size
to fit in the template called language.

~ Jeanette Winterson, Lighthousekeeping (Harvest Books, 2006)


Notes:

Heading home

Heidi Rakels © Stephan Vanfleteren

Growing old
I love the quiet that used to disturb me.
I have distance on my life.
The boast and pity of self-regard
have fallen somewhat behind.
Heading home,
the home I carry with me,
I settle into the clouds.
On the mountain
I sit quietly in a sage meadow
visited by the same bees that make lovers
of flowering bushes.
I become part of the golden comb hidden
in the hive humming with delight.”

Stephen Levine


Sit Still

stephan vanfleteren portrait

“We yearn for silence, yet the less sound there is, the more our thoughts deafen us. How can we still the noise within?…In Vipassana you concentrate on sensation in stillness, sitting down, not necessarily cross-legged, though most people do sit that way. And sitting without changing position, sitting still. As soon as you try to do this, you become aware of a connection between silence and stillness, noise and motion. No sooner are you sitting still than the body is eager to move, or at least to fidget. It grows uncomfortable. In the same way, no sooner is there silence than the mind is eager to talk. In fact we quickly appreciate that sound is movement: words move, music moves, through time. We use sound and movement to avoid the irksomeness of stasis. This is particularly true if you are in physical pain. You shift from foot to foot, you move from room to room. Sitting still, denying yourself physical movement, the mind’s instinctive reaction is to retreat into its normal buzzing monologue — hoping that focusing the mind elsewhere will relieve physical discomfort. This would normally be the case; normally, if ignored, the body would fidget and shift, to avoid accumulating tension. But on this occasion we are asking it to sit still while we think and, since it can’t fidget, it grows more and more tense and uncomfortable. Eventually, this discomfort forces the mind back from its chatter to the body. But finding only discomfort or even pain in the body, it again seeks to escape into language and thought. Back and forth from troubled mind to tormented body, things get worse and worse.  Silence, then, combined with stillness — the two are intimately related — invites us to observe the relationship between consciousness and the body, in movement and moving thought.”

~ Tim Parks, Inner Peace


This essay by Tim Parks is worth reading in its entirety.  You can find it at this link.  Parks references his book Cleaver in the essay.  The book was chosen as a Sunday Telegraph Book of the Year.  It is one of the funniest novels that I have read.  You can read my review of Cleaver at this link.


Credits: Portrait of Phara De Aguirre by Stephan Vanfleteren. Quote: Inner Peace, Aeon Magazine

What “IS” this?

Stephan Vanfleteren Portrait of Hugo Raes

I came from brilliancy

And return to brilliancy.

What is this?

– Hoshin


Sources: Haiku – Thank you Whiskey River.  Hugo Raes Portrait by Stephan Vanfleteren 

There it is; the light across the water.

black and white photography, family, portrait

“There it is; the light across the water. Your story. Mine. His. It has to be seen to be believed. And it has to be heard. In the endless babble of narrative, in spite of the daily noise, the story waits to be heard.

Some people say that the best stories have no words. It is true that words drop away, and that the important things are often left unsaid. The important things are learned in faces, in gestures, not in our locked tongues. The true things are too big or too small, or in any case always the wrong size to fit in the template called language.”

– Jeanette Winterson


My Mind? No. The Mind.

portrait, black and white

Imagine if for the next twenty-four hours you had to wear a cap that amplified your thoughts so that everyone within a hundred yards of you could hear every thought that passed through your head. Imagine if the mind were broadcast so that all about you could overhear your thoughts and fantasies, your dreams and fears. How embarrassed or fearful would you be to go outside? How long would you let your fear of the mind continue to isolate you from the hearts of others? And though this experiment sounds like one which few might care to participate in, imagine how freeing it would be at last to have nothing to hide. And how miraculous it would be to see that all others’ minds too were filled with the same confusion and fantasies, the same insecurity and doubt. How long would it take the judgmental mind to begin to release its grasp, to see through the illusion of separateness, to recognize with some humor the craziness of all beings’ minds, the craziness of mind itself?”

“But I think it is very useful, and indeed more accurate, to call it “the mind” instead of “my mind.”

– Stephen Levine


Stephen Levine, 75, is an American poet, author and Buddhist teacher. He was born in Albany, New York, Levine attended the University of Miami. He spent time helping the sick and dying, using meditation as a method of treatment.  He is the author of several books about dying, Levine and his wife Ondrea spent one year living as if it were their last. For many years, Stephen and Ondrea have been living in near seclusion in the mountains of Northern New Mexico. They are both currently experiencing significant illness which prevents them from travelling and teaching.  One of the most significant aspects of Stephen’s work and one for which he is perhaps best known, is his pioneering approach to working with the experience of grief. Over 34 years, Stephen and his wife Ondrea have counselled concentration camp survivors and their children, Vietnam War veterans as well as victims of sexual abuse.  Although Stephen acknowledges that our experience of grief is perhaps at its most intense when a loved one dies, he also draws our attention to grief’s more subtle incarnations. “Our ordinary, everyday grief,” accumulates as a response to the “burdens of disappointments and disillusionment, the loss of trust and confidence that follows the increasingly less satisfactory arch of our lives”. (Source: Wiki)


Credits: Thank you Whiskey River from the Stephen Levine and Ondrea Levine’s Book titled Who Dies?.  Portrait: Abdelkader Benali by Stephan Vanfleteren 

%d bloggers like this: