The Quest

For years I sought the Many in the One,
I thought to find lost waves and broken rays,
The rainbow's faded colours in the sun--
The dawns and twilights of forgotten days.

But now I seek the One in every form,
Scorning no vision that a dewdrop holds,
The gentle Light that shines behind the storm,
The Dream that many a twilight hour enfolds.

Eva Gore-Booth (1870-1926)

What’s In The Temple?

In the quiet spaces of my mind a thought lies still, but ready to spring.
It begs me to open the door so it can walk about.
The poets speak in obscure terms pointing madly at the unsayable.
The sages say nothing, but walk ahead patting their thigh calling for us to follow.
The monk sits pen in hand poised to explain the cloud of unknowing.
The seeker seeks, just around the corner from the truth.
If she stands still it will catch up with her.

Pause with us here a while.
Put your ear to the wall of your heart.
Listen for the whisper of knowing there.
Love will touch you if you are very still.

If I say the word God, people run away.
They’ve been frightened--sat on ‘till the spirit cried "uncle."
Now they play hide and seek with somebody they can’t name.
They know he’s out there looking for them, and they want to be found,
But there is all this stuff in the way.

I can’t talk about God and make any sense,
And I can’t not talk about God and make any sense.
So we talk about the weather, and we are talking about God.

I miss the old temples where you could hang out with God.
Still, we have pet pounds where you can feel love draped in warm fur,
And sense the whole tragedy of life and death.
You see there the consequences of carelessness,
And you feel there the yapping urgency of life that wants to be lived.
The only things lacking are the frankincense and myrrh.

We don’t build many temples anymore.
Maybe we learned that the sacred can’t be contained.
Or maybe it can’t be sustained inside a building.
Buildings crumble.
It’s the spirit that lives on.

If you had a temple in the secret spaces of your heart,
What would you worship there?
What would you bring to sacrifice?
What would be behind the curtain in the holy of holies?

Go there now.

Tom Barrett

Empty Mind

Writing about empty mind is not easy.
When I have got it, there are no words.
When the words come, it goes away.

Sitting in anger and fear,
Mind is full of the past and future.
Images of catastrophes big and small
Jostle for a seat at the brain.
Resentment, incredulity and disappointment
Slide their way into heart spaces
Pushing out loving-kindness.
Equanimity lies in pieces.

Some of us scrape up that slimy
Emotional stuff and put it in jars
To carry along with us,
And then we complain that
Our load is too heavy.
We need to put down that
Lumpy sack of ooze
And take a breath.

The sage said,
“I pack no provisions for my long journey---
Entering emptiness under the midnight moon.”
He did not pack his ego,
Or his remembrance of self.
He carried no big plans
Or regrets of the past.
Like a wise fool he may have
Even forgotten to leave.
While he sits still in darkness,
The moon travels the sky.

Tom Barrett

Poetry Links:

A Year of Being Here daily mindfulness poetry by wordsmiths of the here & now
Layne Russell's Poetry Room

Poems of Emily Dickinson
Poets.org from The Academy of American Poets
Poetry Daily