Saturday, March 3, 2012

Into Gnarly Shape

In one way or another, every religion and spiritual tradition offers up some kind of world view to explain the discomfort of this mundane life. Most take the tack that there is a "heaven" or a "pure land" or a "Golden Age" or there is "nirvana" or "samadhi". Some of these paths offer a Savior or a Buddha or some other kind of "enlightened master" to guide us, while some of these paths offer some kind of effective sacrifices, devotions or disciplines, all to the purpose of attaining a place in the "elsewhere" that might even be as a mustard seed right here.

My favorite of these relations with the sacred is the ideal of Bodhisattva, who is infinitely in love with us all. While Bodhisattva has attained perfect freedom and is now capable of disappearing into the pure light, there is a task and with that task a vow. Bodhisattva will not depart the world unless we all go, all sentient beings. The vow is to work toward that. Followers of the ideal who are not Bodhisattva vow to work toward becoming Bodhisattva. "Infinitely in love with us all" - most commonly that is called "compassion".

Into Gnarly Shape

It was possible,
I told you that but never
thought you would try for
naked reality
like you have. I fold myself
into gnarly shape
just to fit your bed,
not like me at all. I don't
usually do
this wild sort of thing.

March 8, 2010 6:43 PM


  1. what can i say to this, christopher, but yes, and ok, and please.

    in the winter i only work one day a week. i worked on friday. it was so difficult for me, not because i fear work, but because i do not understand empty work or empty living. (this i have to be careful of - understanding that at any given time my living might be dangerously empty and too, i have to be careful for this to not be a point of judgement.) working i saw people come in and out of the store seemingly seeking value or distraction. this disheartened me. i tell you this, i am so easily filled with joy but it did not take long for me to feel as though life were pounded out and thin and i considered that should my life ever be valued by goods or distraction again then i should be ready to go. in a dark moment i turned to a book of poetry i carry and i read a poem about peaches. in a very real way it cleansed me and saved me. how foolish am i?

    From Blossoms

    From blossoms comes
    this brown paper bag of peaches
    we bought from the boy
    at the bend in the road where we turned toward
    signs painted Peaches.

    From laden boughs, from hands,
    from sweet fellowship in the bins,
    comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
    peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
    comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

    O, to take what we love inside,
    to carry within us an orchard, to eat
    not only the skin, but the shade,
    not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
    the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
    the round jubilance of peach.

    There are days we live
    as if death were nowhere
    in the background; from joy
    to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
    from blossom to blossom to
    impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

    - Li-Young Lee


  2. (it wasn't being far from death in this poem that cleansed me. ironically it was consuming the honesty of the dirt.)

  3. Your words are always so beautiful. :)

    (And my cat's name is Bodhisattva!)

  4. Erin, thank you for Li-young's poem and your thoughts, and yes - a good thing, death included but not the focus...reality.

    Mimi, how kind of your cat to consent to such a vow! I imagine there are moments of levitation :D


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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