April 05th, 2014

Annie Dillard: Unseen Beauty and Grace

mockingbird

About five years ago I saw a mockingbird make a straight vertical descent from the roof gutter of a four-story building. It was an act as careless and spontaneous as the curl of a stem or the kindling of a star.

The mockingbird took a single step into the air and dropped. His wings were still folded against his sides as though he were singing from a limb and not falling, accelerating thirty-two feet per second, through empty air.

Just a breath before he would have been dashed to the ground, he unfurled his wings with exact, deliberate care, revealing the broad bars of white, spread his elegant, white-banded tail, and so floated onto the grass.

I had just rounded a corner when his insouciant step caught my eye; there was no one else in sight. The fact of his free fall was like the old philosophical conundrum about the tree that falls in the forest. The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.”

Annie Dillard | Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

 
Gorgeous bird photography by TinyFishy



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July 03rd, 2009

Showing Your Mind as a Mirror

allen_ginsberg_astro

In the declaration below, Allen Ginsberg explains why it is vital to write.

I’ll let you read it for yourself, but add simply this. Similar to the how the ego is targeted as a pariah within the psyche’s field, the mind also is devalued and maligned as a function that sidetracks us — prevents focused attention. Especially in the Buddhist traditions, there’s too much oppression against the mind.

Ginsberg reminds us that the mind is a mirror. And when we remember this I think we’re aligned in the right way with our apparatus.

I discovered this entry today on a site I’ve been visiting, reading and enjoying very much lately, Luke StormsIntense City.

Luke gathers together a diverse collection of material — and mixes it alongside his own writing. He keeps things fresh that way, and, similar to what I’ve tried to do with Astroinquiry, finds inspiration by placing his own thoughts alongside the material that is most influencing and informing him in the moment. I think you’ll discover that Luke’s site is a place you’ll want to visit again and again. Like repeating a favorite long walk on a spring (or winter) day — along with the familiar road, there’s always something new to discover.

“Proclamation of the actual mind, manifesting your mind, writing the mind, which goes back to Kerouac but also goes back to Milarepa, goes back to his original instructions: Don’t you trust your own mind? Why do you need a piece of paper?

So writing could be seen as “writing your mind”, observing your own mind, or observe what’s vivid coming to mind. For the purpose of relieving your own paranoia, and others’, revealing yourself and communicating to others. It is a blessing for other people if you can communicate and relieve their sense of isolation, confusion, bewilderment, and suffering by offering your own mind as a sample of what’s palpable, visible, and whatever little you’ve learned.

In other words, if you can show your mind it reminds people that they have got a mind. If you can catch yourself thinking, it reminds people that they can catch themselves thinking. If you have a vivid moment that’s more open and compassionate, it reminds people that they have those vivid moments.

By showing your mind as a mirror, you can make a mirror for other people to recognize their own minds and see familiarity and not feel that their minds are unworthy of affection or appreciation. It is appreciation of consciousness, appreciation of our own consciousness.”

– Allen Ginsberg
 

Photograph: William S. Burroughs. 1953.


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September 17th, 2008

When Shit Happens…

“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.

When we think that something is going to bring us pleasure, we don’t know what’s really going to happen. When we think something is going to give us misery, we don’t know. Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. We try to do what we think is going to help. But we don’t know. We never know if we’re going to fall or sit up tall. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may be just the beginning of a great adventure.”

– Pema Chödrön

from When Things Fall Apart Shambhala, Boston and London 2000


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July 24th, 2008

A Moment’s Pause with Ms. Dillard

“Why does death catch us by surprise, and why love? We still and always want waking. We should amass half dressed in long lines like tribesmen and shake gourds at each other, to wake up: instead we watch television and miss the show.”
– Annie Dillard

Art work from The Life of the Dead, a collaboration between American poet Laura Riding Jackson and British painter John Aldridge (1905-1983).


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Filed Under: Prose and Time
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