Mountain life (An excerpt from Radiance)

A short excerpt from Radiance: An Essay for Unsettled Time. The book is in progress.


Out the window, snow begins falling on sienna; it is collecting fast. Until now, it has rained warmly three days straight and the ravines, dug out and meandering down the mountainside, had been rolling with sound, the green beneath the coursing water the color of parsley moss.

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Doing what comes naturally

If it isn’t easy to do, then it’s not the thing to do. Deliberations require lack of spontaneity and struggle a lack of understanding, but graceful action comes quite naturally.

Cutting wood is only hard until the trunk and I are on friendly terms and then the neck yields to the axe’s touch. Being courageous is doing not what is hard but what is necessary. Meditating while hungry is being where one wants to be. Loving is not putzing; making dinner is dancing.

If it’s the thing to do, then it’s done with ease.

The thing desired during sitting meditation

For the first time this morning, I came upon a criterion for my meditation practice. The criterion allows one to say, when one has hit upon the thing desired, that this is in fact the thing desired. Since last December, I had meditated without any aim apart from the continuing to do so diurnally. Now, I seek to find, to recall, to come back to (what is wordlessly experienced as) that place of quiet calm.

To require fewer words.

Lightening bitter hearts

A bitter heart can set in one day and thereafter settle in. Be vigilant therefore. Where today have you erred? What deed neglected, left unfinished? What love untold? Now write these reflections down on paper, read them aloud, and cast them thence into the night fire. Tomorrow, during morning meditation amid the quietude that pervades before dawn, let all turn to sweetness, then to light.