“God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.” – Voltaire
With Madness Like to Mine
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!”
I have had a fairly wonderful time since the last posting. Work is coming in, and I am making real progress on the Invisible College. Mike Crowley buzzed through Portland, stayed with us for a few days as he was about his business, and he introduced me to 3 very beautiful people.
Rowan came back from Outdoor School, re-energized and raring to go on his projects. He is sleeping now, having burned his candle at both ends. Youth, o glorious time..
Miss Mary has been taking care of things, and with me everywhere. She is a ball of energy and light. She is right to my left, and I am happy for the time we have in this wonderful now.
I talked to Oleg Korolev over in Russia (actually the Crimea) on Sunday regarding his article in the Invisible College. Sweet person, and such a talented artist.
This entry centers around someone very seminal in my life… read on, not to spoil it now… 80)
I hope this finds you well, and full of life and joy.
On The Menu:
90 Years On
Moondog – All Is Loneliness
Buddhist Stories Three
Jack Kerouac – On Steve Allen
Jack Kerouac Poetry
Moondog – Lament I, “Bird’s Lament”
Intro – Exit: Hafiz, translated by Gertrude Bell
90 Years On
The 14th of May was my father’s 90th birthday. I am quite amazed, but then I look over the family history on his side, and all the males live like, forever. His father died at 88, his grandfather around the same age. Outside of some health issues, he is pretty fit. His cognitive abilities are not dimmed, and his mind is as sharp as it was 20 years ago. (there is hope for me yet! I shall not die young and leave a beautiful corpse!)
He started off his life wanting to be an artist, then due to familial pressures to being an engineer… but that as well went by the wayside. The war (ww2) intervened and he ended up in the military for some 32 or so years, working his way up from Private to Colonel first with the Army Air Corp and then the Air Force. From what I have deduced, he has always been driven by principles and when young was a Rooseveltian socialist, who veered to the far right, and in the last 30 years back to the left. Although he became immersed in religion after leaving the military, he still has an appetite for the new and wondrous.
We have not always agreed, in fact the Vietnam War and the disintegration of the initial familial unit drove us apart for quite awhile. In the end time heals all. Luckily, neither of us gave up on the other, and we are closer now than I can remember, except perhaps as a very young child.
Here is to his life, the lives that he has touched, and to his love of life. I have included in this post, some of the literary and musical influences that I had conferred on me by my father. Yes, he listened to the likes of Moondog, and took a keen interest in The Beats. It didn’t seem out of place then, and now it is no wonder the way I went with my own life.
I give gratitude for his gifts, and his continual presence in my life.
Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.
Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.
Every one goes astray, but the least imprudent are they who repent the soonest.
Everything’s fine today, that is our illusion.
Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.
Friendship is the marriage of the soul, and this marriage is liable to divorce.
Froth at the top, dregs at bottom, but the middle excellent.
God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.
God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.
Governments need to have both shepherds and butchers.
He is a hard man who is only just, and a sad one who is only wise.
He must be very ignorant for he answers every question he is asked.
He shines in the second rank, who is eclipsed in the first.
He was a great patriot, a humanitarian, a loyal friend; provided, of course, he really is dead.
He who has not the spirit of this age, has all the misery of it.
He who is not just is severe, he who is not wise is sad.
History is only the register of crimes and misfortunes.
One of the records my father turned me onto when I was about 5 or 6… no really. He had an immense curiosity, about music, culture and the like. He turned me on to Jazz, he didn’t have much connection to Rock and Roll, but he liked Blue Grass, and Old Timey music as well. His eclecticism is something I think I inherited.
Moondog – All Is Loneliness
Buddhist Stories Three
Man Wounded by an Arrow
“Parable of the arrow smeared thickly with poison:
It is as if a man had been wounded by an arrow thickly smeared with poison, and his friends and kinsmen were to get a surgeon to heal him, and he were to say, I will not have this arrow pulled out until I know by what man I was wounded, whether he is of the warrior caste, or a brahmin, or of the agricultural, or the lowest caste. Or if he were to say, I will not have this arrow pulled out until I know of what name of family the man is — or whether he is tall, or short or of middle height … Before knowing all this, the man would die.
Similarly, it is not on the view that the world is eternal, that it is finite, that body and soul are distinct, or that the Buddha exists after death that a religious life depends. Whether these views or their opposite are held, there is still rebirth, there is old age, there is death, and grief, lamentation, suffering, sorrow, and despair…. I have not spoken to these views because they do not conduce to an absence of passion, to tranquility, and Nirvana. And what have I explained? Suffering have I explained, the cause of suffering, the destruction of suffering, and the path that leads to the destruction of suffering have I explained. For this is useful.”
Relying on Joy
At the time of Buddha, there lived an old beggar woman called “Relying on Joy”. She used to watch the kings, princes, and people making offerings to Buddha and his disciples, and there was nothing she would have liked more than to be able to do the same. So she went out begging, but at the end of a whole day all she had was one small coin. She took it to the oil-merchant to try to buy some oil. He told her that she could not possibly buy anything with so little. But when he heard that she wanted it to make an offering to Buddha, he took pity on her and gave her the oil she wanted. She took it to the monastery, where she lit a lamp. She placed it before Buddha, and made this wish:”I have nothing to offer but this tiny lamp. But through this offering, in the future may I be blessed with the lamp of wisdom. May I free all beings from their darkness. May I purify all their obstructions, and lead them to enlightenment.”
That night the oil in all the other lamps went out. But the beggar woman’s lamp was still burning at dawn, when Buddha’s disciple Maudgalyayana came to collect all the lamps. When he saw that one was still alight, full of oil and with a new wick, he thought,”There’s no reason why this lamp should still be burning in the day time,” and he tried to blow it out. But it kept on burning. He tried to snuff it out with his fingers, but it stayed alight. He tried to smother it with his robe, but still it burned on. The Buddha had been watching all along, and said,”Maudgalyayana, do you want to put out that lamp? You cannot. You cannot even move it, let alone put it out. If you were to pour the water from all ocean over this lamp, it still wouldn’t go out. The water in all the rivers and the lakes of the world could not extinguish it. Why not? Because this lamp was offered with devotion and with purity of heart and mind. And that motivation has made it of tremendous benefit.” When Buddha had said this, the beggar woman approached him, and he made a prophesy that in the future she would become a perfect buddha, call “Light of the Lamp.”
So it is our motivation, good or bad, that determines the fruit of our actions.
(As told by Sogyal Rinpoche in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.
(Told by Narada Maha Thera)
“A man was forcing his way through a thick forest beset with thorns and stones. Suddenly to his great consternation, an elephant appeared and gave chase. He took to his heels through fear, and seeing a well, he ran to hide in it. But to his horror he saw a viper at the bottom of the well. However, lacking other means of escape, he jumped into that well, and clung to a thorny creeper that was growing in it. Looking up, he saw two mice–a white one and a black one–gnawing at the creeper. Over his face there was a beehive from which occasional drops of honey trickled.
This man, foolishly unmindful of this precarious position, was greedily tasting the honey. A kind person volunteered to show him a path of escape. But the greedy man begged to be excused till he had enjoyed himself.
The thorny path is Samsara, the ocean of life. Man’s life is not a bed of roses. It is beset with difficulties and obstacles to overcome, with opposition and unjust criticism, with attacks and insults to be borne. Such is the thorny path of life.
The elephant here resembles death; the viper, old age; the creeper, birth; the two mice, night and day. The drop of honey correspond to the fleeting sensual pleasures. The man represents the so-called being. The kind person represents the Buddha.
The temporary material happiness is merely the gratification of some desire. When the desired thing is gained, another desire arises. Insatiate are all desires.
‘Sorrow is essential to life, and cannot be evaded.
Nirvana, being non-conditioned, is [quiescent].’”
My father let me stay up to watch this when I was a wee lad. He and I sat and watched the flickering black and white TV… for years I thought that it had been on Jack Parr, but no, I was wrong…
Jack Kerouac – On Steve Allen
Society has good intentions Bureaucracy is like a friend
5 years ago – other furies other losses –
trying to control the uncontrollable Forest fires, Vice
The essential smile In the essential sleep Of the children Of the essential mind
all thru playing the American
Now I’m going to live a good quiet life
world should be built for foot walkers
rivers Of spiney Nevady
am Jake Cake
Write like Blake
horse is not pleased Sight of his
in the dust Its silken
arent kind Kiddies anent sweet
in Nevada – Investigating Dismal Cheyenne Where the war parties
Aimed over oxen At Indian Chiefs
In wild headdress Pouring thru
In Wyoming plain
To make the settlers
Eat more dust than dust
was eaten In the States From East at Seacoast Where wagons made up To dreadful
Of clazer vup
Anxious to masturbate The Mongol Sea (I’m too tired in Cheyenne –
No sleep in 4 nights now, & 2 to go)
Daydreams For Ginsberg
I lie on my back at midnight
hearing the marvelous strange chime
of the clocks, and know it’s mid-
night and in that instant the whole
world swims into sight for me
in the form of beautiful swarm-
ing m u t t a worlds-
everything is happening, shining
blazing in faith, I know I’m
forever right & all’s I got to
do (as I hear the ordinary
extant voices of ladies talking
in some kitchen at midnight
oilcloth cups of cocoa
cardore to mump the
rinnegain in his
darlin drain-) i will write
it, all the talk of the world
everywhere in this morning, leav-
ing open parentheses sections
for my own accompanying inner
thoughts-with roars of me
all brain-all world
it down, swiftly, 1,000 words
(of pages) compressed into one second
of time-I’ll be long
robed & long gold haired in
the famous Greek afternoon
of some Greek City
Fame Immortal & they’ll
have to find me where they find
the t h n u p f t of my
shroud bags flying
flag yagging Lucien
Midnight back in their
be amazed, annoyed-
my words’ll be writ in gold
& preserved in libraries like
Finnegans Wake & Visions of Neal
How To Meditate
fall, hands a-clasped, into instantaneous
ecstasy like a shot of heroin or morphine,
the gland inside of my brain discharging
the good glad fluid (Holy Fluid) as
i hap-down and hold all my body parts
down to a deadstop trance-Healing
all my sicknesses-erasing all-not
even the shred of a ‘I-hope-you’ or a
Loony Balloon left in it, but the mind
blank, serene, thoughtless. When a thought
comes a-springing from afar with its held-
forth figure of image, you spoof it out,
you spuff it off, you fake it, and
it fades, and thought never comes-and
with joy you realize for the first time
‘thinking’s just like not thinking-
So I don’t have to think
Moondog – Lament I, “Bird’s Lament”
The Day of Hope
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!