Sangha Night Poems

Simplifying Kindness

Dates: 
Sunday, March 15, 2020 - 10:45am

This month, with the help of meditation, poetry, and buddhist teachings, we will try to look beyond our judgments, biases and assumptions to reach a deeper, clearer experience of what kindness really is for us.  Here are some of the poems we are reading:

 

March 4: The risk to blossom - looking at what gets in the way of our natural longing to be kind

 

Anais Nin - Risk

And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to Blossom. 

 

Galway Kinnell - Saint Francis and the Sow

The bud 

stands for all things, 

even for those things that don’t flower, 

for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;   

though sometimes it is necessary 

to reteach a thing its loveliness, 

to put a hand on the brow 

of the flower 

and retell it in words and in touch 

it is lovely 

until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;   

as Saint Francis 

put his hand on the creased forehead 

of the sow, and told her in words and in touch   

blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow   

began remembering all down her thick length,   

from the earthen snout all the way 

through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,   

from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine   

down through the great broken heart 

to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering   

from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them: 

the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

 

March 11: Only Kindness - kindness towards suffering and unease

 

Naomi Shihab Nye - Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,

what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride

thinking the bus will never stop,

the passengers eating maize and chicken

will stare out the window forever.

 

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,

you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho

lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you,

how he too was someone

who journeyed through the night with plans

and the simple breath that kept him alive.

 

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth.

 

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to mail letters and

purchase bread,

only kindness that raises its head

from the crowd of the world to say

it is I you have been looking for,

and then goes with you every where

like a shadow or a friend.

 

March 18: Married to Amazement  - a fresh look at the third of the illimitables - Mudita or Joyful Appreciation

 

Mary Oliver - When death comes

When death comes

like the hungry bear in autumn;

when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

 

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;

when death comes

like the measle-pox

 

when death comes

like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

 

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:

what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

 

And therefore I look upon everything

as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,

and I look upon time as no more than an idea,

and I consider eternity as another possibility,

 

and I think of each life as a flower, as common

as a field daisy, and as singular,

 

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,

tending, as all music does, toward silence,

 

and each body a lion of courage, and something

precious to the earth.

 

When it's over, I want to say all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.

I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

 

When it's over, I don't want to wonder

if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

 

I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,

or full of argument.

 

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

 

March 25: Everything is Waiting for you - looking at the difference between Equanimity and Indifference

 

David Whyte: Everything is waiting for you

Your great mistake is to act the drama

 as if you were alone. As if life

 were a progressive and cunning crime

 with no witness to the tiny hidden

 transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny

 the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,

 even you, at times, have felt the grand array;

 the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding

 out your solo voice. You must note

 the way the soap dish enables you,

 or the window latch grants you freedom.

 Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.

 The stairs are your mentor of things

 to come, the doors have always been there

 to frighten you and invite you,

 and the tiny speaker in the phone

 is your dream-ladder to divinity.

 

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the

 conversation. The kettle is singing

 even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots

 have left their arrogant aloofness and

 seen the good in you at last. All the birds

 and creatures of the world are unutterably

 themselves. Everything is waiting for you.