Temet Nosce (Know Thyself)

This page exists as what used to be known as a "Commonplace Book" for the purpose of maintaining a log of the poetry and philosophy that inspires and propels much of my own thought and writing, and to share, with fellow sojourners, a collection of the beauty and wisdom of kindred souls throughout time. My hope is that we will collectively work towards the goal of a deep and sustaining self-knowledge that will, then, inspire and guide us to pursue beauty, peace and justice in our world.

“He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth.”

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Saturday, December 13, 2014

"Friendship" by David Whyte

"Friendship is a mirror to presence and a testament to forgiveness. Friendship not only helps us see ourselves through another’s eyes, but can be sustained over the years only with someone who has repeatedly forgiven us for our trespasses as we must find it in ourselves to forgive them in turn. A friend knows our difficulties and shadows and remains in sight, a companion to our vulnerabilities more than our triumphs, when we are under the strange illusion we do not need them. An undercurrent of real friendship is a blessing exactly because its elemental form is rediscovered again and again through understanding and mercy. All friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness. Without tolerance and mercy all friendships die…
Friendship is the great hidden transmuter of all relationship: it can transform a troubled marriage, make honorable a professional rivalry, make sense of heartbreak and unrequited love and become the newly discovered ground for a mature parent-child relationship.
The dynamic of friendship is almost always underestimated as a constant force in human life: a diminishing circle of friends is the first terrible diagnostic of a life in deep trouble: of overwork, of too much emphasis on a professional identity of forgetting who will be there when our armored personalities run into the inevitable natural disasters and vulnerabilities found in even the most average existence…
Friendship transcends disappearance: an enduring friendship goes on after death, the exchange only transmuted by absence, the relationship advancing and maturing in a silent internal conversational way even after one half of the bond has passed on.
But no matter the medicinal virtues of being a true friend or sustaining a long close relationship with another, the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the self nor of the other, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone."
~ David Whyte, "Friendship" from Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"The Winter Of Listening"

No one but me by the fire,
my hands burning
red in the palms while
the night wind carries
everything away outside.
All this petty worry
while the great cloak
of the sky grows dark
and intense
round every living thing.
What is precious
inside us does not
care to be known
by the mind
in ways that diminish
its presence.
What we strive for
in perfection
is not what turns us
into the lit angel
we desire,
what disturbs
and then nourishes
has everything
we need.
What we hate
in ourselves
is what we cannot know
in ourselves but
what is true to the pattern
does not need
to be explained.
Inside everyone
is a great shout of joy
waiting to be born.
Even with the summer
so far off
I feel it grown in me
now and ready
to arrive in the world.
All those years
listening to those
who had
nothing to say.
All those years
how everything
has its own voice
to make
itself heard.
All those years
how easily
you can belong
to everything
simply by listening.
And the slow
of remembering
how everything
is born from
an opposite
and miraculous
Silence and winter
has led me to that
So let this winter
of listening
be enough
for the new life
I must call my own.
~ David Whyte, "The Winter Of Listening"

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Winter Roots

"And don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous. ~ Rumi"

Monday, December 1, 2014

Living True

"I learned long ago that in order for me to be complete; I have to do real work. As predisposed as I am to doing not much more than sitting still, watching the world, lost in close observation of something, or someone; finding the questions, seeing the hidden beauty, or the fear, the longing, or passion, mentally nosing around in the dark corners and rooting through cluttered up closets--I am lost without putting my hands to something; I have to engage my senses; my body. I have to knead bread, make soup, attend a laboring woman, love a person, sit with the dying, and the bereaved, plant and tend a garden, play my piano, sing, dance; mother my children. Someone once said that "work is love made visible" and while I don't like the slightly oozy sentimentality of the phrase, there is a simple truth in it; work is our art. Finding our work is finding our peace and our joy!" ~ Michelle Wilbert

Looking For The Differences by Tom Hennen

I am struck with the otherness of things, rather than their same-
ness. The way a tiny pile of snow perches in the crook of a
branch in the tall pine, away by itself, high enough not to be
noticed by people, out of reach of stray dogs. It leans against
the scaly pine bark, busy at some existence that does not 
need me.

It is the differences of objects that I love, that lift me toward
the rest of the universe, that amaze me. That each thing on
earth has its own soul, its own life, that each tree, each clod is
filled with the mud of its own star. I watch where I step and see
that the fallen leaf, old broken glass, an icy stone are placed in
exactly the right spot on the earth, carefully, royalty in their
own country.
~ Tom Hennen, "Looking For The Differences" from Darkness Sticks To Everything: Collected and New Poems.