A man said to the universe
A man said to the universe:
"Sir, I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."
Stephen Maria Crane 1871-1900
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!
Rudyard Kipling 1865-1936
You Only Live Twice
You only live twice
Or so it seems.
One life for yourself
And one for your dreams.
You drift through the years
And life seems tame.
'Til one dream appears
And Freedom is its name.
And Freedom's a stranger
Who'll beckon you on
Don't think of the danger
Or the stranger is gone.
This dream is for you
So pay the price.
Make one dream come true. . .
original lyric by Leslie Bricusse, (music by John Barry)
slightly modified by don Juan/Carol Tiggs
Stand still. The trees ahead
and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here.
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger.
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers.
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it you may come back again.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you.
You art surely lost. Stand still.
The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
Teaching story translated from a Northwest Native American language by the poet David Wagoner link to a discussion of the poem
The traits of the solitary bird are five:
the first, that it flies to the highest place;
the second, that it does not suffer for company, not even of its own kind;
the third, that it aims its beak to the skies;
the fourth, that it does not have a definite color;
the fifth, that it sings very softly.
San Juan de la Cruz Dichos de Luz y Amor
“Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would otherwise never have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it! ”
W.H. Muray The Scottish Himalayan Expedition
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away".
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
The Two Wolves
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a
battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son,
The battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret,
greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment
inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.
“The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope,
serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence,
empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute
and then asked his grandfather,
“Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
No Room For Form
On the night when you cross the street
from your shop and your house
to the cemetry,
you'll hear me hailing you from inside
the open grave, and you'll realize
how we've always been together.
I am the clear consciousness-core
of your being, the same in
ecstasy as in self-hating fatigue.
That night when you escape the fear of snakebite
and all irritation with the ants, you'll hear
my familiar voice, see the candle being lit,
smell the incense, the surprise meal fixed
by the lover inside all your other lovers.
This heart-tumult is my signal
to you igniting in the tomb.
So don't fuss with the shroud
and the graveyard road dust.
Those get riped open and washed away
in the music of our finally meeting.
And don't look for me in a human shape.
I am inside your looking. No room
for form with love this strong.
Beat the drum and let the poets speak.
This is the day of purification for those who
are already mature and initiated into what love is.
No need to wait until we die !
There's more to want here than money
and being famous and bites of roasted meat.
Now, what shall we call this new sort of gazing-house
that has opened in our town where people sit
quietly and pour out their glancing
like light, like answering ?
by Jelaluddin Rumi rendered in English by Coleman Barks with John Moyne from the book The Essential Rumi
I am already given to the power that rules my fate.
And I cling to nothing, so I will have nothing to defend.
I have no thoughts, so I will see.
I fear nothing, so I will remember myself.
Detached and at ease,
I will dart past the Eagle to be free.
Carlos Castaneda The Wheel of Time