All that is sweet, delightful, and amiable in this world, in the serenity of the air, the fineness of seasons, the joy of light, the melody of sounds, the beauty of colors, the fragrancy of smells, the splendor of precious stones, is nothing else but Heaven breaking through the veil of this world, manifesting itself in such a degree and darting forth in such variety so much of its own nature.
The great Hindu scriptures say that God is absolute truth, absolute joy, absolute beauty. Any scientist who is seeking the absolute truth, as Einstein did, is seeking God. Anyone seeking absolute joy, whether in a tavern or in the shopping mall or in Monte Carlo, is seeking God. And anyone who is seeking absolute beauty – on a canvas or a stage or a mountaintop – is seeking God. What lovers of beauty seek in paintings, in sculpture, in dance, in music is just a reflection of the absolute beauty that is God. The real source of all beauty is God, the Beloved.
So, there is nobody who is not seeking God. The scientist in his lab, the gambler at the casino, the artist in her studio: all are seeking God. We are all lovers, restlessly searching for the Beloved, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Face behind the veil.
Blue Mountain Center of Meditation
I looked in temples, churches and mosques.
But I found the Divine in my Heart.
Extinguish my eyes, I’ll go on seeing you.
Seal my ears, I’ll go on hearing you.
And without feet I can make my way to you,
without a mouth I can swear your name.
Break off my arms, I’ll take hold of you
with my heart as with a hand.
Stop my heart, and my brain will start to beat.
And if you consume my brain with fire,
I’ll feel you burn in every drop of my blood.
~Rainer Maria Rilke
Rilke’s Book of Hours
Love Poems to God
If I had grown in some generous place –
if my hours had opened in ease –
I would make you a lavish banquet.
My hands wouldn’t clutch at you like this,
so needy and tight.
Then I’d have dared to squander you,
you Limitless Now.
I’d have tossed you into the ringing air
like a ball that someone leaps for and catches
with hands outstretched.
I would have painted you: not on the wall
but in one broad sweep across heaven.
I’d have portrayed you brashly:
as mountain, as fire, as a wind
howling from the desert’s vastness.
Rilke’s Book of Hours
Love Poems To God
Have you never wrapped your arms around the soul
of a giant oak tree and listened for the beat of God’s heart?
Or felt your cheek rest against His cheek
through the tenderness of an old birch tree?
What are you waiting for?
What you seek is seeking you.
Image Courtesy of Dustin K Ryan (Thank you!)
©Dustin K Ryan www.dustinkryanphotography.com
I’m too alone in the world, yet not alone enough
to make each hour holy.
I’m too small in the world, yet not small enough
to simply be in your presence, like a thing –
just as it is.
I want to know my own will
and to move with it.
And I want, in the hushed moments
when the nameless draws near,
to be among the wise ones –
I want to mirror your immensity.
I want never to be too weak or too old
to bear the heavy lurching image of you.
I want to unfold.
Let no place in me hold itself closed,
for where I am closed, I am false.
I want to stay clear in your sight.
I would describe myself
like a landscape I’ve studied
at length, in detail;
like a word I’m coming to understand;
like a pitcher I pour from at mealtime;
like my mother’s face;
like a ship that carried me
when the waters raged.
Rilke’s Book of Hours
Love Poems to God
I am, you anxious one.
Don’t you sense me ready to break
into being at your touch?
My murmurings surround you like shadowy wings.
Can’t you see me standing before you
cloaked in stillness?
Hasn’t my longing ripened in you
from the beginning
as fruit ripens on the branch?
I am the dream you are dreaming.
When you want to awaken, I am that wanting:
I grow strong in the beauty you behold.
And with the silence of stars I enfold
your cities made by time.
God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.
Oh my Beloved, fill me with your love
that I might be a reflection of your beauty!
For God has not given us a spirit of fear,
but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
~2 Timothy 1:7
For me the spiritual path has always been learning how to die. That involves not just death at the end of this particular life, but all the falling apart that happens continually. The fear of death— which is also the fear of groundlessness, of insecurity, of not having it all together—seems to be the most fundamental thing that we have to work with… We have so much fear of not being in control, of not being able to hold on to things. Yet the true nature of things is that you’re never in control. You’re never in control. You can never hold on to anything. That’s the nature of how things are… So my own path has been training to relax with groundlessness and the panic that accompanies it….training to die continually.
I’ve always known I wasn’t an adventurous person. I was too concerned with being safe, with being in control. I spent years powering through my life, manipulating my experiences to get that desired outcome. I was good at it too. You have to be when you’re that scared. Of course at the time I didn’t know I was afraid. It took me years of living with my fear outright before I could see how it had always been there, just beyond my conscious mind. In that hidden part of who I was, the wolves were always at the door…
When the unthinkable happened, and I became ill, the fear surfaced at last, and I found myself in an almost constant state of anxiety. Control had finally proven itself to be the grand illusion all the great scholars said it was. Life had suddenly become precarious and changeable, and I found myself drowning in uncertainty. What Pema Chodron calls groundlessness. I love that word because it so aptly describes that sense of free-fall that comes with truly not knowing.
I’ve spent the last several years now coming to terms with my fear. Through meditation and prayer, I’m learning to trust in something larger than myself, and to relax and just be with whatever comes next. Lately I’ve been turning this phrase over and over in my mind: I Did Not Give You a Heart of Fear. It’s been playing in my head like a melody or a song you suddenly find you can’t stop humming. And I wonder – Is this what all this has been about? Is that what all this has been for, to teach me this one simple truth?
Some days it still comes for me, still unsettles me and shakes me to my core, wanting to know have I learned my lesson? Do I know who I am, and from where I come? And I can answer now with a hard-earned, deep understanding: I come from a place of love and light and I was not given a heart of fear…