Readings to inspire Nonviolent Consciousness:
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” As quoted in The Life and Work of Martha Graham (1991) by Agnes de Mille, p. 264
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late enough,
and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the starts began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them:
“Hold on!” If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
The Guest House
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.
— Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks
“Human freedom involves our capacity to pause between the stimulus and response and, in that pause, to choose the one response toward which we wish to throw our weight. The capacity to create ourselves, based upon this freedom, is inseparable from consciousness or self-awareness. (p. 100)”
― Rollo May, The Courage to Create
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke
The author of the letters: Rainer Maria Rilke
Compassion is being able to see and by “see‟ I mean through the heart as opposed to “see‟ in some sensory, intellectual way; to see through the heart the beauty and the tragedy, if you will, the love and the love that is appearing in a disguised form in all of those who come our way and in all of the experiences that emerge into our sphere. But it must also be recognized that compassion, compassionate self care is a way of coming to our current perception, our current fear, our current judgment and respecting that with the same integrity and with the same steadfastness as we respect that fear after it begins to translate itself into something warmer and deeper. -Stephen R. Schwartz
From the author, Piero Ferrucci, who begins his chapter on empathy, in a book (above) titled Kindness, with this instrumental analogy:
“Although I am not a musician, I once had the opportunity to hold in my hands an exquisitely made violin dating to the eighteenth century. What amazed me, even more than its harmonious lines or the beautiful grain of its wood, was that, holding it, I could feel it vibrate. It was not an inert object. It resonated with the various sounds that happened to resonate around it: another violin, a tram passing in the street, a human voice. If you hold an ordinary, factory-made violin, that just doesn’t happen. There can be hundreds of sounds around it and the violin remains numb. In order to obtain that fine sensitivity and extraordinary resonance of the old violin, the makers had to had an exceptional knowledge of wood and its seasoning; they were supported by the artisan tradition of generations, and they were endowed with the talent of cutting the wood and furnishing the instrument. This marvelous responsiveness is an active virtue. It is the capacity of the violin to enter into resonance, and it goes hand in hand with its capacity to create sound of extraordinary quality — music with a soul, able to move and to inspire. We human are, or at least can be, like that violin.”
Vasudeva listened with great attention. Listening carefully, he let
everything enter his mind, birthplace and childhood, all that learning,
all that searching, all joy, all distress. This was among the
ferryman’s virtues one of the greatest: like only a few, he knew how
to listen. Without him having spoken a word, the speaker sensed how
Vasudeva let his words enter his mind, quiet, open, waiting, how he
did not lose a single one, awaited not a single one with impatience,
did not add his praise or rebuke, was just listening. Siddhartha felt,
what a happy fortune it is, to confess to such a listener, to burry in
his heart his own life, his own search, his own suffering.
In Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Suzuki Roshi offers: “When you listen to someone,” he says, “you should give up all your preconceived ideas and your subjective opinions, just observe what his way is… Just see things as they are with him, and accept these. This is how we communicate with one another… A mind full of preconceived ideas, subjects, intentions, or habits is not open to things as they are.”
Beneath is courtesy of ZENVC.org
In practicing Zen and Nonviolent Communication, it is useful to remember the consciousness these practices point to, so as not to get caught up in doing these techniques in a habitual, mechanical way. As the old Zen saying goes, these teachings are simply fingers pointing at the moon; if we grasp at the finger, we miss the point. Below, are links to things which help us to remember the moon.
Rememberings ( 3 Articles )
|The Courage to Wait|
from Practicing Peace in Times of War
by Pema Chodron
Then the path of peace depends on being patient with the fact that all of us make mistakes. And that’s more important than getting it right. This whole process seems to work only if you’re willing to give yourself a break, to soften up, as you practice patience. As with the rest of the teachings, you can’t win and you can’t lose. You don’t get to just say, “Well since I never can do it, I’m not going to try.” It’s like you never can do it and still you try. And, interestingly enough, that adds up to something, it adds up to appreciation for yourself and for others. It adds up to there being more warmth in the world. You look out through your eyes and you just see yourself wherever you go–you see all these people who are escalating their suffering just like you do. You also notice people catching themselves just like you do, and they give you the gift of their fearlessness. You begin to be grateful for even the slightest gesture of bravery on the part of others because you know it’s not so easy. Their courage increases your trust in the basic goodness of yourself and all beings throughout the world–each of us just wanting to be happy, each of us not wanting to suffer.
|Agape (Christmas Sermon on Peace)|
AGAPE is more than romantic love, it is more than friendship. Agape is understanding, creative, redemptive good will toward all men. Agape is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. Theologians would say that it is the love of God operating in the human heart. When you rise to love on this level, you love all men not because you like them, not because their ways appeal to you, but you love them because God loves them. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “Love your enemies.” And I’m happy that he didn’t say, “Like you enemies,” because there are some people that I find it pretty difficult to like. Liking is an affectionate emotion, and I can’t like anybody who would bomb my home. I can’t like anybody who would exploit me. I can’t like anybody who would trample over me with injustices. I can’t like them. I can’t like anybody who threatens to kill me day in and day out. But Jesus reminds us that love is greater than liking. Love is understanding, creative, redemptive good will toward all men.
|Communication (from Embracing the Beloved)|
by Stephen and Ondrea Levine
Sujata used to say, “Let it go! But if you can’t let it go, I guess you’ll just have to communicate.”
Communication is a crossing of our boundaries. At best, it attempts to transmit the heart. At least, it attempts understanding.
Because everyone seems to be born with perceptual quirks unique to their personality, or what some call “karma,” misunderstanding naturally arises between somewhat different “realities.” When this occurs, communication becomes a peacemaker, an attempt at understanding sent out by carrier pigeon over the fortress walls. We think the moat of our affected indifference will protect us. But our castles are burning. And in our confusion, we try to hide smoke instead of extinguish the fire. Much of our “communication” is an attempt at smoke control. Much comes from the fear that another will see us as we fear we really are-confused and clever, hidden and theatrical, self-interested, angry, distrustful. We are afraid to share our grief, so little of ourselves have we surrendered to its healing. We weigh our words. No one says quite what they mean. We bargain for love in dulcet tones like a cat wrapping itself, purring, around our ankles.
Most use language the way a sightless person uses a cane: to clear the path ahead, a kind of emotional sonar to test for safe ground. Reacting as much to tone as to meaning. Speech for most is not so much a form of communication as a proclamation of self, a marking of territory, pissing on the bushes to let those who follow know who went before. It is a declaration of dominion. Going off a few paces, lifting our leg, philosophizing.
But true communication comes out of a powerful willingness not to protect oneself or event to be right. It comes from a longing for the truth, as painful as that may be at times. It comes out of direct perception. Out of a big mindfulness of the process comes an increasing capacity to reveal blockages and embrace this unique other as is.
Communication, like relationship itself, is the art of space. It is a sense of timeliness and an ongoing exploration of the intention to communicate. It is a deep questioning of what, indeed, communicates.
It is said that Jesus, asked about acceptable eating practices, replied, “Don’t worry about what goes into your mouth, worry about what comes out of it.” Perhaps he recognized that, in either case, we are most often asleep when our mouth is open. So much of what passes for communication is not much more than a mumbling in our sleep. Seldom are we so mechanical or unaware as when we are telling someone who we think we are.
To small mind, communication keeps the world orderly and maintains its horizons. To big mind, communication is that which connects the heart with the disheartened. To the little mind, communication gets you what you want. To the great heart, communication is the ability to commune in beingness itself.
Courtesy of ZENVC : Offering the Wisdom of Nonviolent Communication and Zen Buddhism – Rememberings ( 3 Articles )
Origins and History of Consciousness – Adrienne Rich
Night-life. Letters, journals, bourbon
sloshed in the glass. Poems crucified on the wall,
dissected, their bird-wings severed
like trophies. No one lives in this room
without living through some kind of crisis.
No one lives in this room
without confronting the whiteness of the wall
behind the poems, planks of books,
photographs of dead heroines.
Without contemplating last and late
the true nature of poetry. The drive
to connect. The dream of a common language.
Thinking of lovers, their bind faith, their
my envy is not simple. I have dreamed of going to bed
as walking into clear water ringed by a snowy wood
white as cold sheets, thinking, I’ll freeze in there.
My bare feet are numbed already by the snow
but the water
is mild, I sink and float
like a warm amphibious animal
that has broken the net, has run
through fields of snow leaving no print;
this water washes off the scent—
You are clear now
of the hunter, the trapper
the wardens of the mind—
yet the warm animal dreams on
of another animal
swimming under the snow-flecked surface of the pool,
and wakes, and sleeps again.
No one sleeps in this room without
the dream of a common language.
It was simple to meet you, simple to take your eyes
into mine, saying: these are eyes I have known
from the first…. It was simple to touch you
against the hacked background, the grain of what we
had been, the choices, years…. It was even simple
to take each other’s lives in our hands, as bodies.
What is not simple: to wake from drowning
from where the ocean beat inside us like an afterbirth
into this common, acute particularity
these two selves who walked half a lifetime untouching—
to wake to something deceptively simple: a glass
sweated with dew, a ring of the telephone, a scream
of someone beaten up far down in the street
causing each of us to listen to her own inward scream
knowing the mind of the mugger and the mugged
as any woman must who stands to survive this city,
this century, this life…
each of us having loved the flesh in its clenched or loosened beauty
better than trees or music (yet loving those too
as if they were flesh—and they are—but the flesh
of beings unfathomed as yet in our roughly literal life).
It’s simple to wake from sleep with a stranger,
dress, go out, drink coffee,
enter a life again. It isn’t simple
to wake from sleep into the neighborhood
of one neither strange nor familiar
whom we have chosen to trust. Trusting, untrusting,
we lowered ourselves into this, let ourselves
downward hand over hand as on a rope that quivered
over the unsearched…. We did this. Conceived
of each other, conceived each other in a darkness
which I remember as drenched in light.
I want to call this, life.
But I can’t call it life until we start to move
beyond this secret circle of fire
where our bodies are giant shadows flung on a wall
where the night becomes our inner darkness, and sleeps
like a dumb beast, head on her paws, in the corner.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;so many things seem filled with the intentto be lost that their loss is no disaster.Lose something every day. Accept the flusterof lost door keys, the hour badly spent.The art of losing isn’t hard to master.Then practice losing farther, losing faster:places, and names, and where it was you meantto travel. None of these will bring disaster.I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, ornext-to-last, of three loved houses went.The art of losing isn’t hard to master.I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gestureI love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evidentthe art of losing’s not too hard to masterthough it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
In a Dark Time
In a dark time, the eye begins to see,I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;I hear my echo in the echoing wood—A lord of nature weeping to a tree.I live between the heron and the wren,Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.What’s madness but nobility of soulAt odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!I know the purity of pure despair,My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.That place among the rocks—is it a cave,Or winding path? The edge is what I have.A steady storm of correspondences!A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,And in broad day the midnight come again!A man goes far to find out what he is—Death of the self in a long, tearless night,All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.The mind enters itself, and God the mind,And one is One, free in the tearing wind.Willing to experience aloneness,
I discover connection everywhere;
Turning to face my fear,
I meet the warrior who lives within;
Opening to my loss,
I gain the embrace of the universe;
Surrendering into emptiness,
I find fullness without end.
Each condition I flee from pursues me,
Each condition I welcome transforms me
And becomes itself transformed
Into its radiant jewel-like essence.
I bow to the one who has made it so,
Who has crafted this Master Game.
To play it is purest delight;
To honor its form–true devotion.
– Jennifer Welwood
Phantasia for Elvira Shatayev
|(leader of a woman’s climbing team, all of whom died in a storm on Lenin Peak, August 1974. Later, Shatayev’s husband found and buried the bodies.)|
Phantasia for Elvira Shatayev
by Adrienne Rich
The cold felt cold until our blood
grew colder then the wind
died down and we slept
If in this sleep I speak
it’s with a voice no longer personal
(I want to say with voices)
When the wind tore our breath from us at last
we had no need of words
For months for years each one of us
had felt her own yes growing in her
slowly forming as she stood at windows waited
for trains mended her rucksack combed her hair
What we were to learn was simply what we had
up here as out of all words that yes gathered
its forces fused itself and only just in time
to meet a No of no degrees
the black hole sucking the world in
I feel you climbing toward me
your cleated bootsoles leaving their geometric bite
colossally embossed on microscopic crystals
as when I trailed you in the Caucasus
Now I am further
ahead than either of us dreamed anyone would be
I have become
the white snow packed like asphalt by the wind
the women I love lightly flung against the mountain
that blue sky
our frozen eyes unribboned through the storm
we could have stitched that blueness together
strapped to your body with your tape-recorder camera
ice-pick against advisement
to give us burial in the snow and in your mind
While my body lies out here
flashing like a prism into your eyes
how could you sleep You climbed here for yourself
we climbed for ourselvesWhen you have buried us told your story
Ours does not end we stream
into the unfinished the unbegun
Every cell’s core of heat pulsed out of us
into the thin air of the universe
the armature of rock beneath these snows
this mountain which has taken the imprint of our minds
through changes elemental and minute
as those we underwent
to bring each other here
choosing ourselves each other and this life
whose every breath and grasp and further foothold
is somewhere still enacted and continuing
In the diary I wrote: Now we are ready
and each of us knows it I have never loved
like this I have never seen
my own forces so taken up and shared
and given back
After the long training the early sieges
we are moving almost effortlessly in our love
In the diary as the wind began to tear
at the tents over us I wrote:
We know now we have always been in danger
down in our separateness
and now up here together but till now
we had not touched our strength
In the diary torn from my fingers I had written:
What does love mean
what does it mean “to survive”
A cable of blue fire ropes our bodies
burning together in the snow We will not live
to settle for less We have dreamed of this
all of our lives
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—Success in Circuit liesToo bright for our infirm DelightThe Truth’s superb surpriseAs Lightning to the Children easedWith explanation kindThe Truth must dazzle graduallyOr every man be blind—http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/tell-all-the-truth-but-tell-it-slant/
When You Are Old
Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)