Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Poems: Mindfulness in a Nutshell

At the end of our Mindfulness class, our teacher, Miranda Bevis, would read a poem. These convey succinctly and powerfully what Mindfulness is about. 

  • This first section of this web page provides copies or links to the Mindfulness poems from my 8-week mindfulness class and retreat day.  These are very popular--dare I say "standard fare" in mindfulness courses.
  • The second section has links to other websites with Mindfulness poems. 
  • The last section includes poems from ongoing "Keep Your Mindfulness Alive" refresher courses, and mindful poems I've come across more recently.  

Are you a Returning Reader? Scroll to bottom of page for newly added Mindfulness poems. Note: I have posted interpretations of some of the poems on this:  web page
Wow! Great Discovery!  "A Year of Being Here" -- Three years of one-a-day mindfulness poems curated by Phyllis Cole Dai
I welcome your suggestions via the comments box. One of these days I'll get around to reorganizing this poem collection, sigh. Cheers and best wishes!
Photo credits:  Celia Kozlowski.

Eight Weeks of Mindful Poems

The Summer Day

By Mary Oliver Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean--
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down--
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do 
With your one wild and precious life?


Autobiography in Five Chapters By Portia Nelson, from Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
1) I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost... I am hopeless.
It isn't my fault
It takes forever to find a way out.
2) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I'm in the same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
3) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.\I see it is there.
I still fall in... it's a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
4) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I walk around it.
5) I walk down another Street

Another  by Mary Oliver:

Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
       love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.
  The Guest House
Jelaluddin Rumi,  translation by Coleman Barks

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
 The last part of Little Gidding, one of T.S. Elliot's Four Quartets. Perhaps the most famous lines:
"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."
 Lost by David Waggoner
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, saying Here.
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 are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
The birds have vanished  by Li Po
The birds have vanished in the sky,
and now the last cloud drains away. 
We sit together, the mountain and I, 
until only the mountain remains.
Love After Love by Derek Walcott, Collected Poems 1948-1984, New York, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1986.
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you have ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life. 
 Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye --

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

(This link will take you to the poem as featured on Garrison Keillor's daily radio snippet, Writer's Almanac. Here you can read the poem, but also hear Keillor's excellent reciting of it (if you have RealPlayer--You do have to listen through the lengthy almanac entries for that day before he gets to the poem.) This powerful, emotional poem is very difficult to read well. I think Keillor nails it. I was hoping to find a YouTube video of Ms. Nye reading her poem. I found her reading other poems, but not this one. If you could use a laugh, here is a link to a  video of the poet reading another of her poems,  Boy and Mom at the Nutcracker Ballet.)

Other Mindful Poetry Web Pages

Mindful Poems from  Refresher Sessions and Elsewhere

Keeping Quiet -- by Pablo Neruda from Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon, Translated by Stephen Mitchell
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
This one time upon the earth,
let's not speak any language,
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be a delicious moment,
without hurry, without locomotives,
all of us would be together
in a sudden uneasiness.
The fishermen in the cold sea
would do no harm to the whales
and the peasant gathering salt
would look at his torn hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars of gas, wars of fire,
victories without survivors,
would put on clean clothing
and would walk alongside their brothers
in the shade, without doing a thing.
What I want shouldn't be confused
with final inactivity:
life alone is what matters,
I want nothing to do with death.
If we weren't unanimous
about keeping our lives so much in motion,
if we could do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would
interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death,
perhaps the earth is teaching us
when everything seems to be dead
and then everything is alive.
Now I will count to twelve
and you keep quiet and I'll go.

From The Kabir Book: Forty Four of the Ecstatic Poems of Kabir, Translation by Robert Bly. Beacon Press, Boston, 1993
I said to the wanting-creature inside me:
What is this river you want to cross?
There are no travelers on the river-road, and no road.
Do you see anyone moving about on that bank, or resting?

There is no river at all, and no boat, and no boatman.
There is no towrope either, and no one to pull it.
There is no ground, no sky, no time, no bank, no ford!

And there is no body, and no mind!
Do you believe there is some place that will make the Soul less thirsty?
In that great absence, you will find nothing.

Be strong then, and enter into your own body;
There you have a solid place for your feet.
Think about it carefully!
Don’t go off somewhere else!

Kabir says this: just throw away all thoughts of Imaginary things,
And stand firm in that which you are.
A favorite author, Rob Bell, posted this mindful meditation on his tumbler/facebook pages on Feb 8, 2013:
Q: If you could give any advice for the day, what would it be?
Walk, don’t run.
That’s it.
Walk, don’t run. Slow down, breathe
deeply, and open your eyes because there’s
a whole world right here within this one. The
bush doesn’t suddenly catch on fire, it’s been
burning the whole time. Moses is simply moving
slowly enough to see it. And when he
does, he takes off his sandals. Not because
the ground has suddenly become holy, but
because he’s just now becoming aware that
the ground has been holy the whole time.
Efficiency is not God’s highest goal for your life,
neither is busyness,
or how many things you can get done in one day,
or speed,
or even success.
But walking-
which leads to seeing-
now that’s something.
That’s the invitation for every one of us today
and every day, in every conversation, interaction,
event, and moment: to walk, not run. And in doing
so, to see a whole world right here within this one.
Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935).  from: Pessoa’s Alberto Caeiro: Complete Poems


I’m a keeper of flocks.
The flock is my thoughts
And my thoughts are all sensations.
I think with my eyes and with my ears
And with my hands and feet
And with my nose and mouth.

Thinking about a flower is seeing and smelling it
And eating a piece of fruit is knowing its meaning.

That’s why when on a hot day
I feel sad from liking it so much,
And I throw myself lengthwise on the grass
And shut my hot eyes,
And feeling my whole body lying on reality,
I know the truth and I’m happy.
Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?
Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life  —
What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?
One of my own (with apologies to Robert Louis Stevenson):

Analgesic Meditation -- by Celia Kozlowski

I am too old
to lose myself 
amidst a tableau of toys
sprung to life upon the duvet

So I listen intently
to the sound of blood
coursing through my ears.
I explore the contours
of my headache
like a blind man 
feeling the face 
of his beloved 
after being long apart.
I observe minute details
of each passing breath
like a careful scholar.

In this way the comforter
becomes my counterpane,
a garden of versus,
and the groaning ache
which takes my life
Prelude to the Dance -- by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
(quoting just the last two lines. Please see the poem in full):
What if you knew that the impulse to move in a way that creates beauty in the world will arise from deep within and guide you every time you simply pay attention and wait?
How would this shape your stillness, your movement, your willingness to follow this impulse, to just let go and dance?
Happy the Man -- John Dryden's  Imitation of Horace

Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine,
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.
Found poem from Lecture to a Book of the Month Club by Frederick Buechner

"Maybe it’s all utterly meaningless.
Maybe it’s all unutterably meaningful.

If you want to know which,
pay attention to    
what it means to be truly human     
in a world that half the time               
we’re in love with               
and half the time               
scares the hell out of us...  
The unexpected sound of your name on somebody’s lips. 
The good dream.  
The strange coincidence.   
The moment that brings tears to your eyes.  
The person who brings life to your life.
Even the smallest events hold the greatest clues."

Big Hourglass

I remember back in college
It was sometime in the fall
I was walking by a Maple tree
Flaming red and tall

And as I passed beneath it
One leaf out of that flame
Fell right into my breast pocket
And I haven't been the same

It was like the whole world
Was a big hourglass
Top is like the future, bottom like the past
And at that narrow middle part
Where only one grain can pass
Is the ever-living moment
And I want to understand
That simple grain of sand

It was somewhere in Nebraska
We'd been driving quite awhile
When I glanced over at my daughter
She had this very special smile

It had this extra little wrinkle
Like my grandma's used to do
And for a moment it was real hard
To tell the difference 'tween the two

It was like my family
Was a big hourglass
My daughter, like the future
Grandma, like the past
And at that little moment
Where only one smile can pass
The two were joined together
And I want to understand
This simple grain of sand

Spring is coming on here
There's moisture in the breeze
The river is running higher
Buds are popping in the trees

So I picked up my guitar today
I didn't really have a plan
And this song just kind of jumped right out
Buds were popping in my hands

And it's like the whole world
Is a big hourglass
Top is like the future, bottom like the past
And at that narrow middle part
Where only one grain can pass
Is the ever-living moment
And I want to understand
That simple grain of sand
Like my daughters's smile
Like that Maple leaf
I will give to you this moment
Because it's my belief
That the middle of the hourglass
Is this place where I now stand
So I'll do my best to sing
And try to understand
This simple grain of sand.

A Blessing For One Who Is Exhausted

--by John O'Donohue, from "A Book of Blessings"
found on "Daily Good" webpage for

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

Thanking a Monkey
Kaveri Patel

There’s a monkey in my mind
swinging on a trapeze,
reaching back to the past
or leaning into the future,
never standing still.

Sometimes I want to kill 
that monkey, shoot it square
between the eyes so I won’t
have to think anymore
or feel the pain of worry.

But today I thanked her 
and she jumped down
straight into my lap,
trapeze still swinging

as we sat still.
Ich Glaube an Alles noch nie Gesagte
 ~ Ranier Maria Rilke

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.

I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,

streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

Walking Meditation 

by Thich Nhat Hanh, from Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh
© Parallax Press, 1999.
Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Walk peacefully.
Walk happily.
Our walk is a peace walk.
Our walk is a happiness walk.

Then we learn
that there is no peace walk;
that peace is the walk;
that there is no happiness walk;
that happiness is the walk.
We walk for ourselves.
We walk for everyone
always hand in hand.

Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.

Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.


by Dan Gerber
from Sailing through Cassiopeia, © Copper Canyon Press, 2012

You know how, after it rains, 
my father told me one August afternoon 
when I struggled with something 
hurtful my best friend had said, 
how worms come out and 
crawl all over the sidewalk 
and it stays a big mess 
a long time after it’s over 
if you step on them? 

Leave them alone, 
he went on to say, 
after clearing his throat, 
and when the rain stops, 
they crawl back into the ground. 

Hold Out Your Hand

by Julia Fehrenbacher
Posted September 5, 2014 on "A Year of Being Here daily mindfulness poetry" website 

Let's forget the world for a while
fall back and back
into the hush and holy
of now

are you listening? This breath
invites you
to write the first word
of your new story

your new story begins with this: 
You matter

you are needed—empty
and naked
willing to say yes
and yes and yes

Do you see
the sun shines, day after day
whether you have faith
or not
the sparrows continue
to sing their song
even when you forget to sing

stop asking: Am I good enough?
Ask only
Am I showing up
with love?

Life is not a straight line
it's a downpour of gifts, please—
hold out your hand
Landscape Survey 

by John Brehm

From Sea of Faith (University of Wisconsin Press, 2004)
*Link to another John Brehm poem at the bottom of this page

And what about this boulder,
knocked off the mountaintop and
tumbled down a thousand years ago
Kakabika Falls, Michigan. Photo by C. Kozlowski

to lodge against the streambank,
does it waste itself with worry
about how things are going

to turn out? Does the current
slicing around it stop itself mid-
stream because it can’t get past

all it’s left behind back at
the source or up in the clouds
where its waters first fell

to earth? And these trees,
would they double over and
clutch themselves or lash out

furiously if they were to discover
what the other trees really
thought of them? Would the wind

reascend into the sky forever,
like an in-drawn breath,
if it knew it was fated simply

to sweep the earth of windlessness,
to touch everything and keep
nothing and be beheld by no one?

What Now is Like
by Tamara Madison
Posted Feb 21, 2015 on A Year of Being Here website

Let’s go see what Now 
is like outside. 
Let’s open the door 
look up at the sky 
feel the cold night air 
on our noses. 
Let’s look at our breath 
as we walk out 
to the street. 
Let’s look at how Now
holds the moon 
in black branches, 
how stars shine down 
with a Now from long 
long ago, how 
they stare down 
on our Now which 
has coaxed them 
to wink at us. 
Let’s listen 
to the night sounds 
that rove the dark Now 
beneath the traffic. 
Let’s stop, look back 
into the Now at the end 
of the street; there 
is something there
but I know it is behind us
in a place called Then
where our footprints
have forgotten
we ever made them.

Any Morning

by William Stafford, from Ohio Review (Volume 50, 1993).
Text as posted on The Writer's Almanac (11/26/2012) and
A Year of Being Here 21 April 2015

Just lying on the couch and being happy.
Only humming a little, the quiet sound in the head.
Trouble is busy elsewhere at the moment, it has
so much to do in the world.

People who might judge are mostly asleep; they can't
monitor you all the time, and sometimes they forget.
When dawn flows over the hedge you can
get up and act busy.

Little corners like this, pieces of Heaven
left lying around, can be picked up and saved.
People won't even see that you have them,
they are so light and easy to hide.

Later in the day you can act like the others.
You can shake your head. You can frown.

maggie and milly and molly and may

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach (to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles, and

milly befreiended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.


Nuptial Song

by Susana Thénon Posted on A Year of Being Here website, 9 June 2015

i got married
i got married to myself
i said yes
a yes that took years to arrive
years of unspeakable suffering
crying with the rain
locking myself up in my room
because i—the great love of my existence—
was not calling myself up
was not writing to myself
was not visiting myself
and sometimes
when i dared call myself
to say: hello, am i OK?
I would deny myself

i even managed to write my name in a list of bores
i did not really want to join
because they babbled too much
because they’d not leave me alone
because they’d fence me in
because i could not stand them

at the end I did not even pretend
when I needed myself

i intimated to myself
that i was fed up 

and once i stopped calling myself
and stopped calling myself

and so much time went by that I missed myself
so i said
how long has it been since my last call?
must have been ages
and i called myself up and i answered and could not believe it
because even if it seems incredible
i had not healed
i had only shed blood

then i told myself: hello, is it me?
it’s me, i told myself, and added:
such a long time no see
me from myself myself from me

do i want to come home?

yes, i said

and we got together again

i felt good together with myself
just like me
i felt good together with myself
and so
from one day to the next
i got married and i got married
and am together
and not even death can separate me

from The Oxford Book of Latin American Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology, edited by Cecilia Vicuña and Ernesto Livon Grosman (Oxford University Press, 2009). Translated from the original Spanish by Renata Treitel. 


by Naomi Shihab Nye Posted on A Year of Being Here website 31 December 2015

It is a good word, rolling off the tongue;
no matter what language you were born with
use it. Learn where it begins,
the small alphabet of departure,
how long it takes to think of it,
then say it, then be heard.

Marry it. More than any golden ring,
it shines, it shines.
Wear it on every finger
till your hands dance,
touching everything easily,
letting everything, easily, go.

Strap it to your back like wings.
Or a kite-tail. The stream of air behind a jet.
If you are known for anything,
let it be the way you rise out of sight
when your work is finished.

Think of things that linger: leaves,
cartons and napkins, the damp smell of mold.

Think of things that disappear.

Think of what you love best,
what brings tears into your eyes.

Something that said adios to you
before you knew what it meant
or how long it was for.

Explain little, the word explains itself.
Later perhaps. Lessons following lessons,
like silence following sound.

Let Evening Come

By Jane Kenyon

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.
Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.
Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.
Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.
To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.
Let it come, as it will, and don’t
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come

from the January 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

Surfeit of distance and the wracked mind waiting, 
nipping at itself, snarling inwardly at strangers. 
If I had a car in this town I'd 
rig it up with a rear bumper horn, 
something to blast back at the jackasses 
who honk the second the light turns green. 
If you could gather up all the hornhonks 
of just one day in New York City, 
tie them together in a big brassy knot 
high above the city and honk 
them all at once it would shiver 
the skyscrapers to nothingness, as if 
they were made of sand, and usher 
in the Second Coming. Christ would descend 
from the sky wincing with his fingers 
in his ears and judge us all 
insane. Who'd want people like us 
up there yelling at each other, trashing 
the cloudy, angelic streets with our 
candywrappers and newspapers and coffeecups? 
Besides, we'd still be waiting for   
the next thing to happen in Heaven, 
the next violin concerto or cotton candy 
festival or breathtaking vista to open 
beneath our feet, and thinking this place 
isn't quite what it's cracked up to be, 
and why in hell does everybody 
want to get here? We'd still be 
waiting for someone else to come 
and make us happy, staring 
through whatever's in front of us, 
cursing the light that never seems to change.

Extract from Childhood Friends

by Rumi
Translated by Coleman Barks/John Moyne

Hear a reading presented on BBC Radio 4 at 26:30
From The Essential Rumi, Published by HarperCollins.
. . .
What is the mirror of being?


Always bring a mirror of non-existence
as a gift. Any other present is foolish.

Let the poor man look deep into
generosity. Let the bread see a hungry
man. Let kindling behold a spark from
the flint.

An empty mirror and your worst
destructive habits, when they are held
up to each other,
that's when the real making begins.
That's what art and crafting are.

A tailor needs a torn garment to
practice his expertise. The trunks of
trees must be cut and cut again
so they can be used for fine carpentry.

Your doctor must have a broken leg to
doctor. Your defects are the ways that
glory gets manifested. Whoever sees
clearly what's diseased in himself
begins to gallop on the Way.

There is nothing worse
than thinking you are well enough.
More than anything, self-complacency
blocks the workmanship.

Put your vileness up to a mirror and
weep. Get that self-satisfaction flowing
out of you! Satan thought, "I am better
than Adam," and that *better than* is
still strongly in us.

Your stream-water may look clean,
but there's unstirred matter on the
bottom. Your Sheikh can dig a side
channel that will drain that waste off.

Trust your wound to a Teacher's surgery.
Flies collect on a wound. They cover it,
those flies of your self-protecting
feelings, your love for what you think
is yours.

Let a teacher wave away the flies
and put a plaster on the wound.

Don't turn your head. Keep looking at
the bandaged place. That's where the
light enters you.

And don't believe for a moment
that you're healing yourself.