Staying Awake

When I first entered the monastery, the monks gave me a small book called “The Essential Discipline for Daily Use,” written by the Buddhist monk Doc The from Bao Son pagoda, and they told me to memorize it. It was a thin book. It couldn’t have been more than 40 pages, but it contained all the thoughts Doc The used to awaken his mind while doing any task. When he woke up in the morning, his first thought was, “Just awakened, I hope that every person will attain great awareness and see in complete clarity.” When he washed his hands, he used this thought to place himself in mindfulness: “Washing my hands, I hope that every person will have pure hands to receive reality.” The book is comprised entirely of such sentences. Their goal was to help the beginning practitioner take hold of his own consciousness.
Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness

The teachings are all around me, and so often, after a few years I forget and go on blundering through my life thoughtlessly, wondering why I don’t seem to know how to live in remembrance.  “Help me, help me, help me!” I nag God.  Here is a better way.


Today I start again:   Rising, I press my hands together over my heart and think “May all beings arise rested, to build a new and beautiful world.”


Walking through my house, I feel the cool boards beneath my bare feet and think “may all beings know shelter.”


On my back porch, rocking back and forth, I think to myself, “Feeling the fresh breeze of Spring, I wish this peace for all beings.”


May all know the peace of rocking back and forth slowly, in tune with the motion of the planets.”


Savoring my hot tea, I think “Sipping the first cup of tea today, I hope that all beings may have clean hands and a full cup.”


Leaning on the fence, looking over the fields, I think “may all beings know greeness.”


I feel little, light paws leaning on my knees.  May all beings know unconditional love.


I plug in my earbuds and close my eyes.  May all beings come home with me.


Well, you get the idea.  I don’t have a very exciting life here in my little hermitage, but if I pay attention to everything I do in the course of a day and offer my hopes to the world, then I may just get organized!



Good Shepherd, You have a wild and crazy sheep in love with thorns and brambles. But please don’t get tired of looking for me! I know You won’t. For You have found me. All I have to do is stay found.

Merton, Thomas. A Book of Hours. Ave Maria Presss.


I seem to be on a Thomas Merton kick.  I’m sure I’ll return to Rilke before too long…with occasional side trips to Galway Kinnell, various scriptures and mystical poets, even an occasional poem of my own {blush}…  The thing is, I’m running out of words.

Litany: Thomas Merton

Teach me to go to this country beyond words and beyond names.
Teach me to pray on this side of the frontier, here where these woods are.
I need to be led by you.
I need my heart to be moved by you.
I need my soul to be made clean by your prayer. I need my will to be made strong by you.
I need the world to be saved and changed by you.
I need you for all those who suffer, who are in prison, in danger, in sorrow.
I need you for all the crazy people.
I need your healing hand to work always in my life.
I need you to make me, as you made your Son, a healer, a comforter, a savior.
I need you to name the dead.
I need you to help the dying cross their particular rivers.
I need you for myself whether I live or die.
It is necessary.

Merton, Thomas. A Book of Hours (p. 67). Ave Maria Press – A.

We Will Bless Each Other

You will bless me, and I will bless you back. . .

You will do it perfectly,

And I will do it badly.

And yet your reception will be of such gladness

that I will continue to feel embarrassed,

yet unable to resist your heavenly deliciousness.


Why me?

Why this one?

Surely you should be more discerning!

But I will take what is in your hand,

Regardless of what seems to me your odd sense of judgment.


I steal into your chambers, and you do not refuse me.

Thank you for this loneliness.

— Amidha Porter


I like to put things where I won’t lose them.


GAYAN 009 – ALAPA-09 – If the Almighty God chooseth, He hath power sufficient to turn thy shield into a poisoned sword, and even thine own hand into the hand of thine adversary.

There is generally a tendency seen in those treading the spiritual path to feel discouraged at having bad impressions upon their heart of their own faults and shortcomings.  And they begin to feel that they are too unworthy to have anything to do with things of a sacred nature.  But it is a great error, in spite of all the virtue humility has in it.  When one acknowledges something wrong in oneself one gives that wrong a soul out of one’s own spirit, and by withdrawing from all that is good and beautiful, spiritual and sacred, instead of developing the spirit of rejecting all errors, in time one becomes a receptacle of what is wrong.  He goes on disapproving and yet collecting errors, so producing within himself a perpetual conflict that never ends.  When man becomes helpless before his infirmities he becomes a slave to his errors, he feels within himself an obedient servant to his adversary.

The greater the purity developed in the heart the greater becomes the power of man.  As great the power of man within himself so great becomes his power on others.  A hair’s breadth can divide power from weakness, which appear to have as wide a gulf between them as between land and sky. – Inayat Khan

Gatha III – Everyday Life – Reject the Impression of Errors and Shortcomings

A Found Day

David and I went to Massachusetts to visit our daughter, and on the way back enjoyed a “found” day in Harrisburg, PA.  That afternoon, we went downtown–where both of us worked at one point years ago–to wander around, have lunch, take photos, and let Fergus make friends with every homeless person he encountered. There were a lot of them, too, just as there were in the cities we explored in Massachusetts.

So I was hanging with Fergus while David went to get us some coffee, and we moseyed down toward the river. David took forever to get back to us, and when I asked him where he’d been, said he’d been talking to a seemingly homeless guy who was “meeting someone” who would give him $12 to keep his electricity on. So maybe he wasn’t homeless. I asked Dave if he’d given him some cash, and he said he didn’t have much. I didn’t have a cent (maybe we all use plastic these days?), but I laid a guilt trip on Dave and made him turn out his pockets and head back to the guy to give him what he had, which turned out to be $12.The man was delighted and thanked him and prayed for us. On the way back to me, David looked down and saw one of my gold earrings on the sidewalk–rather valuable, I don’t have many–which had evidently fallen off my ear.

I thought the whole thing was a pretty good deal. We came out the winners, with prayers said (I’ll take all I can get) and my gold earring restored to me.

It doesn’t take much to make me happy.