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Archive for the ‘Rainer Maria Rilke’ Category

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Today’s Blessing: In the night, when I awoke with fear and worry, I greeted my old companions on this road. At times fear, I have thought you foe — together we would toss and turn, tangling ourselves in the bedsheets.

But not last night, instead I lay there peacefully and welcomed you. You are the mind’s way of trying to help. You are not my enemy. I have no real enemies.

I have a Universe that supports my well being, and it’s got my back. I am a daughter of this Universe. I am changeable, adaptable, flexible. Therefore, I am one with all Life, as the Universe carries at its essence, fluidity. This is why Rilke once wrote: “just keep going, no feeling is final.” I keep going, I do what is before me to do with a grateful heart.

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sunnyhill

My eyes already touch the sunny hill,
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has its inner light, even from a distance—

and changes us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it, we already are;
a gesture waves us on, answering our own wave . . .
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

~Rainer Maria Rilke~
Muzot, March 1924
Translated by Robert Bly

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My-Ocean-Waves

Summarizing a story here from Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, followed by how I put it into practice:

Jacob was 70 years old, he’d been meditating for 20 years and occasionally he taught classes to students of Buddhism.  He finds himself in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s.  There are times when he is quite lucid and aware of what is happening.  However, at other times he does not know where he is, how he got there, or why he is there.  It is on one such day that he leads a talk to fellow students of Buddhism.  This is what transpires:

“Jacob looked out at the expectant faces before him … suddenly he did not know what he was supposed to say or do.  He didn’t know where he was or why he was there.  His heart was pounding furiously and his mind was spinning in confusion.  Putting his palms together at his heart, Jacob started naming out loud what was happening: Afraid, embarrassed, confused, feeling like I’m failing, powerless, shaking, sense of dying, sinking, lost.

For several more minutes he sat, head slightly bowed, continuing to name his experience.  As his body began to relax and his mind grew calmer, he also noted that aloud.  At last Jacob lifted his head, looked slowly around at those gathered and apologized.

Many of the students were in tears.  As one put it, “No one has ever taught us like this.  Your presence has been the deepest teaching.”  Rather than pushing away his experience and deepening his agitation, Jacob had the courage and training simply to name what he was aware of, and, most significantly, to bow to his experience.  In some fundamental way he didn’t create an adversary out of feelings and confusion.  He didn’t make anything wrong.

Perhaps you will take a moment as I did, to pause and reflect on the enormity of what this man accomplished with pure unconditional acceptance.  And, with no eye to actually accomplishing anything at all.

I tried this myself on several issues.  I have been in conflict with a government agency that provides services for my son.  I made an inquiry, which is another tool that Tara Brach gives in her book: What is really happening here?

Story about not being in control, feeling afraid.  I am just naming the story, not building on it, while acknowledging how I feel in that moment.  In that space of allowing, it’s no longer a me against them.  It’s a story with a feeling, that’s given the space to simply be.  Nothing to fix, here nothing is wrong.

I have to make a call to an insurance company that I’ve been dreading.  Story about lack, and on this occasion, it’s a story about “not enough time”.  Feeling tense, frustrated, and not breathing freely.

Lastly, reading an email today that upset me.  A story about rejection and not being lovable, the feeling is sadness and once again not breathing freely.  Several conscious breaths don’t seem to move this rather sticky one.  So I stop and just sit with it, remembering the aim isn’t to move, change or fix anything.  I stay with it for a few hours, I continue consciously breathing, consciously noticing the thoughts and feelings rise up and move through me like so many waves in the ocean.  After a time, the breath leads me gently to that place where it’s all held lightly in unconditional acceptance.  No longer having any meaning, pure experience in the moment, that is finally allowed to just simply be.

“How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races—the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses.  Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are only princesses waiting for us to act, just once, with beauty and courage.  Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Namaste my friends.

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“The great affair, the love affair with life, is to live as variously as possible, to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred, climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sunstruck hills every day.  It began as mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.”

~ Diane Ackerman

I just adore that quote, especially the last line.  Very much reminds me of Rilke’s “let everything happen to you beauty and terror, just keep going, no feeling is final.”

And this from Fred Alan Wolf in What the Bleep: “the real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery.”

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Autumn Day: Rilke

Lord: it is time. The huge summer has gone by.
Now overlap the sundials with your shadows,
and on the meadows let the wind go free.

Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine,
grant them a few more warm transparent days,
urge them onto fulfillment then, and press
the final sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now, will never have one.
Whoever is alone will stay alone,
will sit, read, write long letters through the evening,
and wander on the boulevards, up and down,
restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing.

~Rainer Maria Rilke

excerpted from Ahead Of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose of RMR
edited and translated by Stephen Mitchell

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Image by Rassouli

As events unfolded through the latter part of last month, I found myself blowing into my little God Whistle asking for strength.  It was a February of change and challenges that shook me more than anything had for quite some time.  The strength did come and right beside it flowed wisdom and comfort.

I dubbed this last month a period of “Bethie finding her religion”.   There is nothing like situations that metaphorically or literally bring me to my knees to remind me I’m not in charge here and frankly, there’s very little I’m in charge of around here.  And isn’t that a relief?  If I had to rely on myself to spin the planets, orchestrate thousands of different processes in my body, raise the sun, set the tides, we’d be having a lot of chaos in the world.

Often I don’t post about the particulars of the sh*t hitting the fan in my life.  It is found in between the lines of my poems and posts.   What I do tend to write about is the place I finally land, a little stronger, a little wiser and ultimately returning to what remains when all else falls away — that all consuming Love that’s back of Everything.

I’ve not yet reached the point where I’m grateful for all the contrast and challenges when I’m in the thick of it but I know enough now to see that I’m always grateful for the delicious expansion that comes just as soon as I’m willing to take my own hands off the levers of control.  As Rainer Maria Rilke once wrote “in the difficult, are the hands that work on us”.  Yes … the hands … not my hands.  Once again I am reminded of the humility and surrender in a simple prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.  Surrender is so much a part of the fabric of this Universe.  As surely as the day must surrender to the night, so must I give right of way to the “hands that work on us”.

I’m going to post some quotes from A Course in Miracles which played a big part in “Bethie finding her religion” again.  In the ensuing weeks I’ll post some lessons from the workbook.  There is much in ACIM I don’t understand but I’m comprehending more of it than I have in the past and I find the lessons to be so liberating that I believe they actually could be life-changing.

“There will come a time when images have all gone by and you will see you know not what you are.  It is to this unsealed and open mind that truth returns, unhindered and unbound.  Where concepts of the self have been laid by is truth revealed exactly as it is.  When every concept has been raised to doubt and question, and been recognized as made on no assumptions that would stand the light, then is the truth left free to enter in its sanctuary, clean and free of guilt.  There is no statement that the world is more afraid to hear than this.

I do not know the thing I am, and therefore do not
know what I am doing, where I am, or how to look
upon the world or on myself.

Yet in this learning is salvation born.  And What you are will tell you of Itself.”

Chapter 31, V:17

“The truth in you remains as radiant as a star, as pure as light, as innocent as love itself.”

Chapter 31, VI:7

This is the final passage in the text:

“And now we say “Amen.”  For Christ has come to dwell in the abode You set for Him before time was, in calm eternity.  The journey closes, ending at the place where it began.  No trace of it remains.  Not one illusion is accorded faith, and not one spot of darkness still remains to hide the face of Christ from anyone.  Thy Will is done, complete and perfectly and all creation recognizes You, and knows You as the only Source it has.  Clear in Your likeness does the Light shine forth from everything that lives and moves in You.  For we have reached where all of us are one, and we are home, where You would have us be.”

Chapter 31, VIII:12

And finally I leave you with a passage from the poem entitled Today, by one of my favorite poets: William Stafford.

“Religion has touched your throat. Not the same now, You could close your eyes and go on full of light.”

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If a sadness rises in front of you,
larger than any you have ever seen;
if an anxiety like light and cloud-shadows
moves over your hands and over everything you do.
You must realize that something is happening to you,
that life has not forgotten you,
that it holds you in its hand
and will not let you fall.


~Rainer Maria Rilke~
Letters to a Young Poet

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