Know Thy Self…

Know Thy Self…Light and Shadow

Just as the sundial
Knows its place and function
Within this world…

Standing as it does
As a meeting point
Between light and shade…

Its form designed
To face the sun
Yet cast a shadow…

Which can be read
By clear sighted eyes
And discerning mind…

To learn something
Of the nature
Of this universe…

This poem came from a meeting with a shaman a few years ago. I cannot recall his words exactly but I do remember him describing something of the nature of our existence… Ideas to do with the Light and the inevitable connection between lightness and darkness… That when any form comes into being, we are like a puppet standing with the Light shining upon us… And by the very nature of our existing, a shadow will be cast… We stand as the meeting point between lightness and darkness… We are formed from the Light and cannot exist without it, but neither can we exist without the shadow… Our journey includes learning to accept and understand the shadow for what it is and ultimately choosing to face the Light…

The Beggar’s New Clothes

We beggar ourselvesPentacles 5
When we clothe our selves
In garments which are not ours to wear.
They were of our making,
It is true,
Hewn with our own small hands.

But a child’s hands
That did not know
Whither what they did.
And sewed but blindly
With beginner’s stitch,
And innocently nebulous mind.

Swords 5The trembling hand
That was guided
To fashion in a certain way.
And create a costume
Strong enough,
To protect us from the world.

The costume
Fit well enough the child
Even the teenager wore it with style.
But not so
The adult who followed;
An emperor adorned in old robes.

With his red tunicCups 5
Of fiery frustration and rage
Hanging in impotent shreds.
Her night-purple boots
Of delusional pride
Broken, with heals mismatching.

His great grey cloak
Of impenetrable protection
Dragging filth along the floor.
Her sky-blue dress
Of smiles and obeisance
Quite apologetically faded.

Better we were bareStar
Defenceless and naked
Than wear such rags as these.
Give up the charade
Of parading as beggars
Through the entirety of our lives.

Discern piece by piece
Every rag, every tatter,
And resolve to let them go.
Thank them for all
The defences they gave us,
Give them the burial they deserve.

Manifest a new wardrobeEmpress
Of gracious attire
Befitting our potentialities.
Clothing that reflects
The selves that we become
With each step along the path.

We beggar ourselves
When we clothe our selves
In garments which are no longer ours to wear.
The great challenge of life
Is to discard our rags
And learn to dress with dignity.

Images are taken from the Rider-Waite tarot deck

Farewell Old Friend

Amanda at sunset

Farewell old friend
For although your days have been hard
You have taught me much
(Of course, how could I doubt it?),
And you have taken me
(Oftentimes dragging me, scared and unwilling)
Along daunting and challenging paths,
Through the lands and places I needed to see.

You have shown me many marvels
(Although from up close I may have called them perils)
And you have made me stand witness
Not just to the world through which I travel,
And to others on journeys of similar or dissimilar ilk,
But to the world within from which so much flows
(And hides and hurts and fears)
To know all possibilities, of every measure.

And although I stand now still in childish ignorance
(And arrogance and incompetence),
I see glimmers of a land where I would like to dwell,
Where simplicity, awareness, wisdom and compassion
Are not just clever words half-formed from immature ideas
But are fully formed, of both light and weight,
Deeply lived from the inside out
Providing sustenance which flows ever in circles.

So farewell again old friend
And thank you for your many gifts,
And welcome new friend
Whose gifts are yet unknown, unguessed at,
But which are to be accepted gladly,
For they are given as befits the receiver,
And may one day lead, whether by short or long route,
To the land that glimmers so.

Bruno at sunset

To Be Both Bound And Free

locked blue door

We are…

 Bound by inevitable forces
Of this life, this time, this place.
Destiny, inheritance and the light
That comes with us from some place before.
Upbringing subtly shaping us,
All those patterns we have copied,
Learning, unintentionally,
To be happy, scared, manipulative or brave.

 It is likely that some of those forces
Will win an epic battle,
Ensnaring us to become
Vessels of joy or depression.
Kindness or cruelty
Could be ours to master.
Yesterday’s rejected babe
Is devoid of love tomorrow.

 Any outcome could be more likely
Depending on the tide,
Chained as we are to ourselves,
Most of us with eyes wide shut.
No idea we are locked in prisons
Of our own and our ancestors’ making,
Oblivious to how our lives and selves
Have been shaped, twisted and warped.

Maybe some of us manage
To rise above such things.
Tireless journeys on the long road
Having kindled an inner flame.
And we can hold it up high,
Bright beacon in the dark,
Emitting empathy, even though,
We were denied it as a child.

But most of us lack such history
Of the soul’s ongoing passage,
To resist the colossal waves
Of our earthquake fractured lives.
And we grow up, still children,
Who never learned who they are
And were never taught to seek deeply enough,
Or see clearly, with eyes wide open.

gate open

And we are…

Freed by the knowledge that these things
Are but time limited concerns.
They will come and they will go
At the will of the universe, or God.
Wherever we find ourselves
Is simply where we must be,
And the moment we accept this
Is the moment we become free.

To see with eyes wide open
Just how small we really are,
We are not the giants we mistakenly
Believed ourselves to be.
As the universe takes a single breath
We live and then we die,
Little specks of nothing
Barely dots upon the page.

And yet, somehow, we all exist
Whether deserving life or not.
And, somehow, in our tiny lives
Lies meaning, fathoms deep.
We are part of something greater
Amidst this unknown multitude,
And it is freedom beyond measure
Just to say ‘I am alive’.

Somewhere, somewhen, else
We may be asked to become something other,
The persecutor may take the hero’s turn,
A few steps down the path.
The why’s and how’s we cannot see
In dark and barren valleys,
But when, at last, a mountain peak we reach
Understanding clothes the land.

The things that really matter
Are the simplest things of all,
To be humbled in our nature
And grateful for the fall.
We are here to learn such wonders
From the night and from the day,
As we walk both bound and free
Through the mystery of our lives.

gate and tree

This Too Shall Pass

Dark day

If you have come to a place
Where you are disillusioned
With all that you have or have not become,
Had expectations for who you would one day be,
And now perceive that you are not even half way there,
But you have, at least, stumbled through
With your eyes half open,
Enough anyway to see the shadows playing,
And you’ve watched in anguish
As demons the jump out
With your every thought, word and deed,
Aware of them as the emotional energy
Fuelling the demons, engulfs you,
But somehow unable to hold them back,
Even though you have tried to fight them,
To tame the wildness within,
And you are still losing the fight,
It is somehow beyond you,
With the answers lost somewhere
In a dark and blurry past,
The roots buried under too many layers
Of earth, stones and rotting leaves,
Unrecoverable, indecipherable,
Never to be fully known,
Just glimpses of understanding,
Moments of wisdom as you embrace the idea
That you must embrace your demons
For them to dissolve,
To bravely go through, not run from,
To seek them, accept them, honour them,
Love them even,
Or to dismiss them
To sink beneath,
Become still and know that
All that moves within you
Is but an illusion of self,
To let go of the self
Which is merely a puppet,
A shadow cast by the incorruptible light
And embrace the Self,
And you somehow grasp all this knowledge,
Theoretically, intuitively,
But still it aids you little
As you run round in circles
And run yourself into the ground,
If you have come to this place
And are at a standstill,
At a total loss for where to go,
What to try,
How to move forwards,
And how to forgive
Yourself,
And if you have given up hope
That you will ever,
Ever, grow beyond the limitations
And failings of you…

Do not fear,

Do not fret,

For this too shall pass.

Between dark and light

Do not try to know
That which you cannot fully know,
If you stumble
It is meant to be so.
And if the demons are winning
Then rest awhile,
You cannot beat them
When you are so tired,
Of fighting,
Of trying,
Of everything.
Let things be as they are
And know that they will change,
And you will surely change
As and when the universe decrees.
Is not your mind, body and soul
Governed
By the same laws
As the universe in which it exists?
One day,
Light will follow dark,
As surely as day follows night
And the Spring returns after a long, cold Winter.
Maybe with light
Will come truth,
Awareness and compassion,
Which together will make forgiveness
Obsolete.
Maybe, other wondrous understandings
Will emerge and surprise you
In the light where transparency reigns.
Maybe, deep down in a secret place,
You are not ready
To let the demons go,
Until some vital lesson is learnt
That unlocks the choice to do so.
But these things
Are not yours to know right now,
From where you stand.
So until the new day dawns, let go
Of any hopes, or fears,
Of what lies within
You,
And what lies beyond.
Accept, be at peace and be glad
Of the mystery of you,
The nuances and depths
Which are yours alone to be
Right now,
In this time and this place.
Be grateful
To be alive,
And to know,
That you do not know…

How it

Will be,

When all of this has passed.

Light day

The Me That I Am

Sand painting

I am me, who I am,
Through a curious concoction,
A multiplicitous and duplicitous meeting.
Strangely determining factors,
Shaping every contour and curve.

 Who I am may seem clear,
But I sense the realms
Of being something other than I am.
Another me, another place, here or there, far away,
A different stir of the universe’s cauldron.

I am who I am,
But who I am is not fixed,
Rather an oozing of lava.
Voluminous, sinuous, slippery to touch,
Pouring out from a cavernous void.

The who that I am
Can flow, twist and stretch,
Run downhill or curve, puddle-like, in one place.
I can warp, bend or contort in a million ways
And assume a million more forms.

Rock wall

The me that I am
Right now, in this place,
Began long ago, years beyond measure.
Once star dust from a phoenix’s demise
Rising anew from the ashes.

It was I that was just
A fragment of dust
Sucked into Earth’s embrace,
To be named igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic…
A billion years of making and remaking.

Today, who I am
May be squeezed by this life,
Molded to resemble solid rock.
Inheritance, environment and destiny’s hand,
Shaping the parameters of form.

But even I
Can ooze, with every choice,
Thought and action driving the direction.
Lava may flow East, North, South or West
To different lives and versions of me.

Water

Sometimes I believe
That this is really me,
This sometimes flowing, sometimes solid, piece of rock.
And then comes the fear of the day that I will cease,
And lose the me I think I am.

But whenever I mistakenly
Believe that I am rock,
All spongy holes, rough edges, arcing contours.
The elements laugh and put me in my place,
‘Just you wait’, call the wind, fire and ice.

However solid I become
In this life or next
Is akin to the naming of stone.
Granite today was marble yesterday,
And may be limestone or onyx tomorrow.

The me that I am
Finds solace in this news,
A relinquishing of both pride and shame.
I have been a thousand me’s, and will be a thousand more,
Each with their own rough and smooth.

Rock wall and sand

And I hear the reminder
That this knowledge brings,
‘Be gentle on all whom you meet’.
The cruel, the power crazed, the ignorant, the sleepers,
For all of these I am sure to have been.

Today I may be lucky
Enough to attain
A texture with some softness and warmth.
But one, ten or fifty, hundred years ago,
I was darkness, sharp spikes and raw core.

The me that I am
Hopes one day to become
A wiser more compassionate me.
I yearn towards the diamond whose light shines out
With beauty, purity and love.

In the meantime I am,
Temporarily speaking,
Exactly who I am meant to be.
And, even as I struggle with such confusing conundrums,
Tomorrow’s me beckons me onwards.

Sand ripples

Ever Wondered…?

Ever wondered how it is
That buildings appear so vast, up close,
Colossal forms, towering high,
Spread-eagle wide.

And roads tear open into chasms,
Busy, buzzing, cacophony of cars,
Stretching onwards unendingly
Into a concrete distance.
And the city sprawls to infinity,
A maze of streets and corners,
No two quarters ever alike.
Only taxi drivers know all ways.

Lima City

And yet, as the plane ascends,
Buildings fade into insignificance,
Roof-shaped dots, falling away,
Bowing out of sight.

And the widest of roads narrows
Into a thread of insubstantiality.
Lights of cars are pinpricks,
Silent shooting stars in the dark.
And even the proudest of cities
With its multitude of everything,
Shrinks to a spider’s web,
A crawling, grey-veined mass.

Mountains

As one world sinks into decline,
Another is revealed.
The Earth holds out its wonders,
For the curious-eyed to glimpse.

Deserts yawn open in rippling folds,
A sweeping expanse of yellows.
Mountain peaks and jagged ravines,
All whiteness, sunlight and shadow.
Ocean stretches in all encompassing embrace
Clouds unfold their glory,
Out to distant horizons
Where imagination takes flight.

Island waters

And if we ventured further,
To tumble weightless around the Earth,
A marble of blue-green brilliance
Would shine, a marvel to behold.

Ragged sky

Ever wondered how it is
That our hardships appear so vast,
Up close, day by day,
Trapped in the midst of life.

Engulfed, overwhelmed, not waving, almost drowning,
Barely afloat in the torrent.
Tossed by the storms of existence,
Staggering in dismay.
Dark shadows dance, unashamed in the open,
As a winter’s night closes in.
Elegant guillotine poised overhead
To fall at any moment.

Dark waters

Threatening to break us, threatening to turn us
Into that which we don’t want to be.
Angry, resentful, selfish, cold,
Tantrums of a frightened child.

And yet, not so, when viewed from afar,
Perched on high, looking down,
From someplace outside of life,
Without ourselves in the way.
From here we perceive with breadth of vision
And unclogged clarity of mind.
Our struggles a blink in a wakeful cat’s eye.
Mere moments of tribulation.

Peru mountain valley

But, nevertheless, they have their place
In the unfolding of our lives.
The great cycles turn as they must
And with them the seasons flow.

Bitter winters are inescapable
For the lightness of spring to be reached.
Deserts of despair, mountains of pain,
Deep oceans of tears and grief.
Anger, resentment, fear, sadness,
Persecutor, victim, judge.
Tough lessons that we all must come through
To, one day, bring us closer to love.

Love flower

That is how it is, our lives,
When viewed from far away,
A jewel amongst the emptiness of space
Held in the palm of God’s hand.