The world is now far too dangerous for anything less than Utopia.Buckminster Fuller
Cold Days in Portland. Half my plants are living in the basement. The sun comes and goes… yet no heat or relief.
Everything can be a prayer, a meditation it seems. These quiet days I am struck by the struggle of life, and how we try to swim against the stream. Even the struggle can be a meditation. Let it go, let it go.
Here is a small entry for the ending of the week…
On The Menu
Art: William Morris
The Gates of Paradise
A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin, and asked: “Is there really a paradise and a hell?”
“Who are you?” inquired Hakuin.
“I am a samurai,” the warrior replied.
“You, a soldier!” exclaimed Hakuin. “What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? Your face looks like that of a beggar.”
Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but Hakuin continued: “So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably much too dull to cut off my head.”
As Nobushige drew his sword Hakuin remarked: “Here open the gates of hell!”
At these words the samurai, perceiving the master’s discipline, sheathed his sword and bowed.
“Here open the gates of paradise,” said Hakuin.
The Giver Should Be Thankful
While Seisetsu was the master of Engaku in Kamakura he required larger quarters, since those in which he was teaching were overcrowded. Umezu Seibei, a merchant of Edo, decided to donate five hundred pieces of gold called ryo toward the construction of a more commodious school. This money he brought to the teacher.
Seisetsu said: “All right. I will take it.”
Umezu gave Seisetsu the sack of gold, but he was dissatisfied with the attitude of the teacher. One might live a whole year on three ryo, and the merchant had not even been thanked for five hundred.
“In that sack are five hundred ryo,” hinted Umezu.
“You told me that before,” replied Seisetsu.
“Even if I am a wealthy merchant, five hundred ryo is a lot of money,” said Umezu.
“Do you want me to thank you for it?” asked Seisetsu.
“You ought to,” replied Uzemu.
Why should I?” inquired Seisetsu. “The giver should be thankful.”
Teaching Of Hafiz XXIV
NOT one is filled with madness like to mine
In all the taverns! my soiled robe lies here,
There my neglected book, both pledged for wine.
With dust my heart is thick, that should be clear,
A glass to mirror forth the Great King’s face;
One ray of light from out Thy dwelling-place
To pierce my night, oh God! and draw me near.
From out mine eyes unto my garment’s hem
A river flows; perchance my cypress-tree
Beside that stream may rear her lofty stem,
Watering her roots with tears. Ah, bring to me
The wine vessel! since my Love’s cheek is hid,
A flood of grief comes from my heart unbid,
And turns mine eyes into a bitter sea!
Nay, by the hand that sells me wine, I vow
No more the brimming cup shall touch my lips,
Until my mistress with her radiant brow
Adorns my feast-until Love’s secret slips
From her, as from the candle’s tongue of flame,
Though I, the singèd moth, for very shame,
Dare not extol Love’s light without eclipse.
Red wine I worship, and I worship her–
Speak not to me of anything beside,
For nought but these on earth or heaven I care.
What though the proud narcissus flowers defied
Thy shining eyes to prove themselves more bright,
Yet heed them not! those that are clear of sight
Follow not them to whom all light’s denied.
Before the tavern door a Christian sang
To sound of pipe and drum, what time the earth
Awaited the white dawn, and gaily rang
Upon mine ear those harbingers of mirth:
“If the True Faith be such as thou dost say,
Alas! my Hafiz, that this sweet To-day
Should bring unknown To-morrow to the birth!”
THE days of absence and the bitter nights
Of separation, all are at an end!
Where is the influence of the star that blights
My hope? The omen answers: At an end!
Autumn’s abundance, creeping Autumn’s mirth,
Are ended and forgot when o’er the earth
The wind of Spring with soft warm feet doth wend.
The Day of Hope, hid beneath Sorrow’s veil,
Has shown its face–ah, cry that all may hear:
Come forth! the powers of night no more prevail!
Praise be to God, now that the rose is near
With long-desired and flaming coronet,
The cruel stinging thorns all men forget,
The wind of Winter ends its proud career.
The long confusion of the nights that were,
Anguish that dwelt within my heart, is o’er;
‘Neath the protection of my lady’s hair
Grief nor disquiet come to me no more.
What though her curls wrought all my misery,
My lady’s gracious face can comfort me,
And at the end give what I sorrow for.
Light-hearted to the tavern let me go,
Where laughs the pipe, the merry cymbals kiss;
Under the history of all my woe,
My mistress sets her hand and writes: Finis.
Oh, linger not, nor trust the inconstant days
That promised: Where thou art thy lady stays–
The tale of separation ends with this!
Joy’s certain path, oh Saki, thou hast shown–
Long may thy cup be full, thy days be fair!
Trouble and sickness from my breast have flown,
Order and health thy wisdom marshals there.
Not one that numbered Hafiz’ name among
The great-unnumbered were his tears, unsung;
Praise him that sets an end to endless care!
THE secret draught of wine and love repressed
Are joys foundationless–then come whate’er
May come, slave to the grape I stand confessed!
Unloose, oh friend, the knot of thy heart’s care,
Despite the warning that the Heavens reveal!
For all his thought, never astronomer
That loosed the knot of Fate those Heavens conceal!
Not all the changes that thy days unfold
Shall rouse thy wonder; Time’s revolving sphere
Over a thousand lives like thine has rolled.
That cup within thy fingers, dost not hear
The voices of dead kings speak through the clay
Kobad, Bahman, Djemshid, their dust is here,
“Gently upon me set thy lips!” they say.
What man can tell where Kaus and Kai have gone?
Who knows where even now the restless wind
Scatters the dust of Djem’s imperial throne?
And where the tulip, following close behind
The feet of Spring, her scarlet chalice rears,
There Ferhad for the love of Shirin pined,
Dyeing the desert red with his heart’s tears.
Bring, bring the cup! drink we while yet we may
To our soul’s ruin the forbidden draught
Perhaps a treasure-trove is hid away
Among those ruins where the wine has laughed!–
Perhaps the tulip knows the fickleness
Of Fortune’s smile, for on her stalk’s green shaft
She bears a wine-cup through the wilderness.
The murmuring stream of Ruknabad, the breeze
That blows from out Mosalla’s fair pleasaunce,
Summon me back when I would seek heart’s ease,
Travelling afar; what though Love’s countenance
Be turned full harsh and sorrowful on me,
I care not so that Time’s unfriendly glance
Still from my Lady’s beauty turned be.
Like Hafiz, drain the goblet cheerfully
While minstrels touch the lute and sweetly sing,
For all that makes thy heart rejoice in thee
Hangs of Life’s single, slender, silken string.