Tag Archives: Coleman Barks

Whatever Is, Is

I'm a lover, not a fighter...

I’m a lover, not a fighter…

I’m going to try to be brief. I wrote out my emotional angst in my journal, so I’m feeling a little lighter now…and am not seeking catharsis in this post.  It’s time for bed, and there is much left undone–but it’s time for bed, and so it will all have to wait.
On the agenda for the near future:

My fearless moral inventory (Step 4), which was completely put on the back burner for NaPoWriMo, and which was conveniently never picked back up again.  Maybe some of you will recall that I decided in February to work through the Twelve Steps in an effort to reclaim my creative self, and I was planning on working through a step a month to give myself some kind of scope for an entire year of daily posts.  The one step a month thing completely fell through in April, but this doesn’t mean I won’t do the work, because I can see it is good work and may prove valuable to my journey as a creative being.

Although I never really considered myself to be an addict, I decided it would make things clearer to be completely substance free, and this August will mark a whole year of no Bacchanalian libations. My family has a history of substance abuse, and so they think I’m completely crazy for not drinking.  Ah well…

Anyway, as I was about to write this post, I remembered a passage from the introduction to Coleman Barks’s A Year With Rumi in which he gives us Galway Kinell’s poem “Prayer” to consider:

Whatever happens. Whatever
what is is is what
I want. Only that. But that.

And then Barks proceeds to gush over it:

It is joyfully scientific, this pared-down, vast, three-ises-in-a-row petition of Galway’s.  The world is so amazingly interesting, I want to be completely here for its moment.  That longing is the truth I try to follow, rather than a religion’s iconography.  Watch an astronomer or a molecular biologist at work, an estuarist opening the net he has pulled up out of Doboy Sound.  They glow as the facts of the world surface.

You can see from my drawing above that I didn’t remember the exact quote from Kinnell’s poem, but the idea is still the same.  I will not fight reality, because as Byron Katie says, “Fighting reality hurts, but only 100% of the time.”  I want to want exactly what is happening now.  From the place of non-resistance comes the clarity to choose the best path, or at least the best next step on the path.

So I keep my thought as I move into my meditation–Whatever is, is…


I am here, now
It doesn’t matter if my mind wandered a hundred times in the last minute–
Now, in this moment, I can be aware of this one breath in,
this one breath out.

Beyond the chatter of my mind,
there is this beautiful world, this life
this body plodding faithfully along,
the good friend that it is,
and for this moment I am grateful for what I have.

Yes, there is a long way to go,
or so my mind says–
but if I stop and really see,
I’ll remember that there is no distance
There is no time
It all unfolds in this now
And in this space of clear sight
I fall in love with the moment, exactly as it is.

Dervishes, Meditation, Metta

Dervishes, Meditation, Metta


You have heard of the ocean of nonexistence.
Try continually to give yourself to that ocean.

Every workshop has its foundations
set on that emptiness.

The master of all masters works with nothing.
The more such nothing comes into your work,
The more the presence will be there.

Dervishes gamble everything.
They lose and win the other,
The emptiness which animates this.

We have talked so much.
Remember what we have not said.

And keep working.  Laziness and disdain
Are not devotions.  Your effort
Will bring a result.

As dawn lightens, blow out the candle.
Dawn in in your eyes now.

–Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks, A Year With Rumi, p 75)

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I was barely able to stay awake through my evening meditation.  My body and my mind are tired, so tired.  It is 10:30 pm, and soon I will close my eyes on this day.  I look forward to the sweet surrender of sleep, grateful for a comfortable bed in a safe home with a family that I treasure beyond words.

Day by day I feel my self returning to me.  I didn’t know when I had lost it, but as it comes back, I realize how much I’ve been missing, how much I’ve been suffering in its absence. Any number of things could be contributing to this shift…but… I think the antidepressant medication is working.  I’ll keep taking it.

When I open my eyes in the now of tomorrow, I hope that my body and mind will feel refreshed, so that I may teach a yoga class that meets the needs of my students.  I hope that I will carry peace with me back to my children, and enough inner lightness and space that I might appreciate their beauty, their glowing innocence, their spontaneity.  More than the things I can give them, what I want most to give to them is my presence, just being…I want them to see that it is possible to just be.  To appreciate the nothing pregnant with everything.  But maybe this is what they are teaching me?

And now for a little metta, lovingkindness, sent out into the world in all directions:

May all beings be free from danger.
May all beings have mental happiness.
May all beings have physical happiness.
May all beings have ease of wellbeing.

Nighty night!

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Absorb the Spring

Absorb the Spring

Dark Sweetness

The ground turns green. A drum begins
Commentaries on the heart arrive in seven volumes.

The pen puts its head down
to give a dark sweetness to the page.

Planets go wherever they want.
Venus sways near the North Star.
The moon holds on to Leo.

The host who has no self is here.
We look into each other’s eyes.

A child is still a child
Even after it has learned the alphabet.

Solomon lifts his morning cup to the mountains.
Sit down in this pavilion,
and don’t listen to religious bickering.
Be silent as we absorb the spring.

–Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks, A Year with Rumi, p 67.)


OH MY GOSH. I saw CROCUSES today!  Spring is on its way.  I hear winter may try to make a comeback, but history has shown us that eventually spring arrives in full force and makes the winter a distant memory.  The build up to spring has been so long, the winter so intense, that I’m expecting the trees to be emitting symphony music as they begin to leaf out, buds shouting open in all their glory.

This is a time when I’m at my best.  This is the month of my birth, and it feels like all of the cosmic forces are with me and behind me, saying, “YES! Go for it!”  This is a freeing time, so alive that the ground itself seems to be buzzing–the potential for new ideas to take root and to grow with a big HALLELUJAH!  A flowing time, a blowing time–wanting a sweater if the wind suddenly appears, but then reveling in skin kissed by the breeze with the sun’s heat warms the day, and everything around me, trees, grass, birds, people–everything is saying, “YES!”

As the earth warms up and the natural world reawakens in its radiant beauty, I cannot contain my excitement–I want to be outdoors jumping and dancing and singing LA LA LA LA LA!  My heart feels light, my body is energized, what will happen next?  Something beautiful!

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This Candleflame Instant

This Candleflame Instant

As essence turns to ocean,
the particles glisten.

Watch how in this candleflame instant
blaze all the moments you have lived.

–Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks, A Year With Rumi, p 326)

I light a candle and I take a few deep breaths.  What can I write about when my inner world feels so turbulent?  I put a drop of frankincense essential oil in my palm, rub my hands together, cup my hands, breathe deeply. Frankincense has been used for centuries to assist people in reaching meditative states, calming the mind, purifying the air.  I pray that in this moment my life will make sense.

I watch the candle flickering, and I search for the words to express what I’m feeling.  Just a moment ago I was assailed by thoughts, now I’m drawing a blank.  What am I feeling?

Tired. Nothing else really comes to mind.  I haven’t had a night of deep, restful sleep since I began taking Wellbutrin on Tuesday; I’m jumpy, I continue to have a shorter fuse than I’d like, the physical exhaustion is making me foggy, it’s bringing me down.  I wonder if I made the right choice in taking this medication.  I wonder how long I’ll have to wait to find out if it is working for me or not.  I feel broken. Depleted. Empty.

A part of me wonders if at some point I’m going to break through the dark haze and remember the spark of divinity in me.   Just one spark is all that is needed to light the fire of awakening, but once lit, the fire must be tended.  My meditation practice is one way of tending this fire, but how much progress can I make when I’m fighting drowsiness at night, barely able to sit upright for fifteen minutes?  Has my fire gone out, and I’m just going through the motions of tending it, adding damp fuel on top of dying embers, not realizing the futility of my efforts?

It’s going on three years since I began my practice, and I ask how much has really changed in me?  Has anything changed?  There’s a cynic in me that says I have done all of this work for nothing.

Or perhaps my meditations really are having positive effects on my life, but the effects are so subtle that they cannot be easily grasped by my analytical mind?

Just for this moment, I will believe that I’m capable of transcending any difficulty with which I am faced. I will try to sit now, because this is what I have done for the last 926 days and in spite of the cynic, some part of me believes that this will help.

I hope to stay awake and aware, but I don’t have much fight in me right now.  If I begin to nod off, I’ll put myself to bed. Ok, here goes…

A spark is all that is needed to light the fire of awakening.

A spark is all that is needed to light the fire of awakening.