Monday, December 31, 2012

What Separates



What separates us is not
so much what we have
as what we want.

What divides us is not
so much what we believe
as how we live.

What breaks us into pieces is not
so much our differences
as our common fears.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Where the Light Is


Forgiveness is like
a tree along a river.

The river is the pain
that washes through
every life.

The tree draws it
up by the roots
and raises it
into the leaves
where the light is.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

House of Stone


If I build a house of stone,
every stone becomes my sentry.

If I build a fence of rocks,
every rock becomes my guard.

If I build a wall of hatred,
every brick becomes my judge.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Not Enough


Tao makes the
ten thousand things
new every moment.

If that isn't enough,
nothing will suffice.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

No Change



Time is our perception of change.
The past was not what is now.

Where there is no time,
there is no change.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Lessons


The fear of disapproval.
The fear of acceptance.

The fear of abandonment.
The fear of freedom.

The fear of pain.
The fear of praise.

The fear of knowing.
The fear of not knowing.

Every fear is a teacher.
Every lesson comes in pairs.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Birthday


The best gift for those
who already have enough
is a gift for those who don't.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Which Trees to Trust


If I can't touch the trees
on the opposite bank,
but I can touch their reflection
on the river between,
which trees will I trust first?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Colorblind


In a black-and-white world,
what use are red, green, and blue
except as shades of gray?

We cannot appreciate
what we do not know we have.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Strategy


Everything in the forest
has a strategy for staying.

And everything in the forest
makes use of what didn't last.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Joy and Pain


Joy, like beauty,
is in the eye
of the beholder.

Pain is more
broadly held.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Flat Earth


Art flattens out life
and makes it easier
to understand.

Some things are even
beyond art, though.

Those you have to
approach with nothing.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dead Land


Every privilege carries
responsibility on its back.

Every right brings
obligation wherever it goes.

To claim the rights without
the duties leads to a dead land.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

When I Say Thank You


When I say
thank you
in the winter,
flowers bloom
in the spring.

When I say
thank you
in the summer,
colors explode
in the fall.

When I say
thank you
at any moment,
the whole year
lightens.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Endless List


Who am I?
What do I want?

The answer to
the second question
comes from the answer
to the first.

The answer to
the first question
comes from an endless list
of other questions.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Grateful


Is a sparrow grateful
for the straw in its nest?

Is a river grateful
for the shade along its banks?

Is a forest grateful
for the mountain underneath?

Does gratitude need us
to bring it into being?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

When Does a Leaf Die?


At what point does a leaf die?
When its stem first goes pale?

When all the green drains
away into yellow?

When it slips off the branch
and spins to the ground?

When it turns brittle underfoot?
When it powders into dust?

When it rides water back up
into the kernels of a cornstalk?

When it passes into the canals
of a living heart?

When?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Root or Snake?


Bare root or snake?
How I react depends on what I see.

Bare soul or panhandler?
How I react depends on what I believe.

Once again,
it pays to pay attention.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Small Thing


Grass becomes soil.
Soil becomes rock.
Rock becomes dust.
Dust becomes human.

We are children of trees,
of rivers and clouds,
of beehives and stars.

But we forget this --
until some small thing
snags our attention,
and we wonder again.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What Stones Keep


If I shout
at a stone wall,
my voice
bounces back --

except
for the words
the stones keep
for themselves.

Even stones
have ears.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Changeless


Tao is changeless.
God is changeless.
Allah is changeless.
You are changeless.
I am changeless.

Change can only come
through our perceptions of it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Marking Trails


If I blaze a trail for myself,
I'm making a trail to the past.

If I blaze a trail for others,
I'm making a trail for the future.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Without Expectations


When I do my work
without expectations,
the results take care
of themselves.

When I try to force
the outcome,
the end never satisfies.

How do I work
without expectations?

By paying attention.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

My Turn


At every moment,
both day and night,
someone somewhere
is in dire straits.
No one escapes
these shadows.

If we can't find a way
to help those in need,
we're doomed as a species,
because every one of us
gets a turn sooner or later.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Curious Feast


Why try to stand out?
Why recede into shadow?

What difference
does it make in the end?

It makes no difference
in the end.

But this isn't the end.

And life is a feast
for the curious.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Next


Next minute.
Next hour.
Next day.
Next week. 
Next month.
Next year.

There is always
something next
in the universe of
ten thousand things.

But whatever
comes next
can only happen
now.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Leaf


A shoot rises
from a branch,
becomes a stem
and then a leaf.

The leaf unfurls
and stretches out
to the edges of itself
and stops.

It takes up room
in the breeze for months,
until it goes brilliant
and follows its own path
to the ground.

How hard it is
to contemplate this
and not ask
why?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Four Cities


First is the city run by the wealthy.
Second is the city run by the military.
Third is the city run by the clergy.
Fourth is the city run by the people.

The first is an expensive place.
The second is a dangerous place.
The third is a divisive place.
The fourth is a chaotic place.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Bent Reeds


It's impossible to know
what others are going through
below the surface
at any given moment.

We are all reeds in wet land,
bending in stormy winds
to lean on one another.

This is why two reeds
are stronger than one.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

No Taming


Taming the mind
is impossible.

Taming the spirit
is also impossible.

No taming is possible
without a willingness
to be tamed.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Root Level


Roots are designed
to live underground,
hidden and unremarked.

And yet,
from this humble place,
they power the growth
of multitudes.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Understanding Mercy


No matter how much
mercy we extend to others,
we'll never really understand it
until we've had to receive it
for ourselves.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Symbol-based Species


Symbols cluster
around us like
street urchins
wherever we go,
just waiting for us
to give them meaning.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What Masters Us


When our fears master us,
we see devastation lurking.

When our thoughts master us,
we see forests and trees.

When our humanity masters us,
we see a hillside in season.

When our divinity masters us,
we see what was there all along.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

Lichen


What makes a rock
a comfortable place
to build a home?

Any place is comfortable
if you fit yourself to it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pulling Strings


For one who seeks Tao,
Tao is everywhere.

For one who denies Tao,
Tao is nowhere.

For one who ignores Tao,
Tao is behind the scenes,

pulling strings.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Easier to Understand


What if the universe really is
in every speck of matter?

What if the universe really is
embedded in every cell of our bodies?

What if the universe really is
just calling out to itself?

Why would that make it
any easier to understand?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hard Enough Already


Life is hard enough already.
Why add to the misery of others?

Courtesy doesn't cost extra.
Politeness smooths the way for all.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Four Leisures


A meal eaten lazily among friends.
A comfortable seat at water's edge.
A favored book and time to read it.
A calm mind in the middle of chaos.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Agendas


Everybody
has an agenda.

We each want things
to go our way.

The true agenda
is no agenda.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ignorance


Ignorance is costly,
but it can lead to wisdom.

Willful ignorance leads
to an uncharmed life.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bones


What holds
us up in life
is the last
to dissolve
in death.

Bones are like
the roots of trees.
The most solid part,
but hidden from view.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Not a Sliver


There's not a sliver of time
that doesn't contain eternity.

There's not a single point
that doesn't contain infinity.

The sliver knows only the sliver.
The point knows only the point.

Eternity wears time like a jacket.
Infinity holds space in the palm of its hand.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fear of Falling


We build a fence
along the edge of a cliff
to keep us from falling
into the gorge.

But what draws us
to that sheer drop
in the first place?

Are we seeking
a better view?

Or are we looking
toward that day
when we may fly? 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Every Wall


Every wall has a crack.
But you won't see it
until it appears.

When will it appear?

If you're lucky,
when you're ready
for it to appear.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Genesis


My spiritual journey
starts with a question.

Does anything lie beyond
what I can experience
through my senses?

If my answer is no,
my journey continues
deeper into time and space.

If my answer is yes,
my journey continues
deeper into the Divine.

If my answer is I don't know,
my journey continues
with another question.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

We All Want to Matter


How long is
long enough to matter?

There is no long enough.
There is no end to mattering.

My problem isn't
that I don't matter.

My problem is that
so does everyone else.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

When Light Enters


When light
enters a room,
everything changes
under its gaze.

When Tao
shows itself,
nothing stays
as it was.