One World. {Poem}

DSCF2959

From one side of the world to the next

From top to bottom

Ocean to ocean

Shoreline to distant horizon

From lands on both sides

Of walls and borders

To the rivers snaking through

That know of no division

From the source of all waters

To the depths of Earth’s core

All around and inside out

Looking up looking down

I see one thing:

I see wonder

At where we are

What grounds us

What holds us

What we have made

Who we are

How we are here

Together

At the same time

Breathing our shared history

Making more

Can we hold hands

From here until

The end of time

Which might forever

Unfold?

What If: A Love Song to Self-Acceptance.

DSCF1538 copy

Tammy T. Stone

This is essentially about self-love, self-acceptance and the power of desiring without attachment, but I was feeling a bit effusive about it all, so here we go!

What if?

What if I had been born with butterfly wings?

A great Monarch, a dazzling alchemy of orange and black.

Even better, what if I was born as a whole colony of little white butterflies, and I could flutter my wings and soar when the universe and I knew the time was ripe?

What if I could sing like Sia and move every last earthly mountain with one searing note?

What if I could dive into a movie screen and enter a French film where I sit down with young beatniks at one of Paris’ Left Bank Cafes, sipping espresso and talking about profoundly philosophical matters while appearing impossibly charming and sophisticated?

What if I could float up to the highest treetops any time I needed to talk to the sky?

What if I could count seahorses and mermaids as my closest friends, and relay their messages to the world?

What if my carpet and bed were the fallen leaves on a forest floor and each leaf whispered cosmic secrets into my ears at night?

What if I always knew how to express everything that lives in my heart?

But what if way deep down I knew these “What If’s” made no sense? Because it’s not logical.

If Only

If only I weren’t so stricken with logic. Because I like dreaming.

If only I didn’t stop to ask myself, “Who is conjuring up all these fantastic, dizzying What Ifs?”

If only I didn’t understood that to live the fantasy means to wipe out me, and without me, there can be no wistful dreams.

Because to get carried away in the dream means there is no one left to do the dreaming.

If only I couldn’t figure out that if I were a butterfly or Sia or an elegant espresso sipper in a French film, I would be erasing myself out of existence, along with all the flights of fancy and the What Ifs.

And then the world would run out of dreams.

If only I didn’t get that in the What If world, the protagonists are always fictional, already-fading stars; as much as we adore them and want to fall into giddy laughter with them over a glass of red, we can never encounter anything but the dress-up, the caked make-up and a person who goes by a different name.

If only we could happily embrace we who dream more than the fantasies themselves, and if only we recognized that everything we can dream up already exists as potential.

If only, when we put our mind in the clouds, we do so to smile with the stars and sun and moon, and thank them for their existence. If only when we come back to our Earthly bodies, we thank them too for all they continue to do for us.

We should ask: what if to dream is an end in itself, one of the very beautiful marks of being human, the very unique beings that we are?

What if we dream without wanting to disappear in the dream?

What if we desire without attachment?

What if we love instead of want

and share our love until all the edges disappear

and there’s nothing left to wish for

because it’s already here and it’s already now?

 

This article was originally published on The Tattooed Buddha.

 

 

Despite the Terror, We are Love.

361

I don’t mean to sound trite or self-helpy when I say that we are love.

I was probably born spewing cynicisms and am a recovering pessimist. I believe it’s important to be aware of our current realities, and not turn a blind eye to the tragedies in our midst. I believe in knowing that corruption and impure intentions form a part of the web of our humanity as we’ve evolved up to this point (Not devolved. Bad news makes us think we are devolving, but I don’t believe devolution is our narrative arc).

I am horrified and saddened beyond words to hear about the terror attacks in Paris, the suicide bombings in Beirut, and so many other soul-ripping issues and problems occurring around the world.

One or two horrors don’t eclipse all the others; they are a searing, painful reminder of the darker side of our world. One broken body, one broken heart is the cracking open of an awareness of all heartbreaking things everywhere.

It is not meant to sound trite, either, to say that we are all connected. We know that we are, with our deepest instincts. We bleed for the fallen and laugh with the triumphant. Though it doesn’t always seem like it, we are not on any perch; we are not our own havens or cocoons. We are not reacting to world events from somewhere apart, no matter how far we might seem.

This is the world we all live in. Moments like this, when the world rips into shards of pain, highlight the fact that the separations between us and everyone else are illusory.

It’s not that these things “could” happen to us. They are happening to us. Our reality is an enjoined one.  This is why we cry at someone else’s loss and remember our own: we are exercising our great capacity for sympathy, and also tapping into universal pain and suffering. This universality of our experience is also evidenced in the hundreds of thousands of monks meditating creating an observable ripple of peace everywhere.

Focusing on the potential we have to generate and spread peace from within us to the world is not to turn away from the shocking realities in our midst. It is a way of taking action. It is to confront tragedy directly, and instead of getting angry or placing blame (though some anger is healthy—provoking, as it does—impassioned action), we are cradling it in our arms in acknowledgement, and providing an antidote of love.

The longer we sit in meditation, or quiet reflection, the more we come to understand that we are swimming in a sea of love beyond the immediate world of suffering.

We can feel it within the microcosm of our bodies, too.

We sit down to meditate, and it isn’t long before we become uncomfortable. Our back and shoulders begin to ache, our legs fall asleep, sharp pain shoots out from the knee, the stomach rumbles, the heart begins to palpitate. Intertwined with all this are our thoughts and emotions, buzzing every which way, wreaking havoc through our system, reminding us how hard it can be to be human, to have this history of our past pain living inside of us.

We confront all this, observe it head on, and give it compassion.

Eventually, the discomfort subsides (it will return of course; everything earthly cycles before we can free ourselves from all our past wounds), and we wonder: where did it go? How could such disturbances just disappear? But they do. And then an ocean of calm floods the body, the mind, the heart. Breath elongates and we dwell in a calm universe we know extends far beyond the boundaries of our physical form.

We even come to see or feel that this universe of calm is our foundation, our platform, our natural state.

It’s most crucial to remember this when it most feels like this cannot possibly be true, because violence is erupting and hurt and horror are spreading like wildfire.

Let’s grieve, and cry, and really feel the suffering that abounds. And then, let’s give it love.

Let’s breathe in all the suffering of the world, gathering it into the soft spot of our hearts, where we transform it to love and peace.

Let’s breathe out this shimmering love and peace to the whole world.

Breathing in all that is, breathing out the love that underpins it all.

May we all find peace.

My Street Japan. Final Day 50.

My Street Japan. DAY 50. Tammy T. Stone

My Street Japan. DAY 50. Tammy T. Stone

Instinct tells me that today is the last day of this project, and in honour of this, I repost my favourite shot of the series.

It’s not the most technically perfect short. It’s funny and blurry and a bit distorted.

What I love about this photo is that it is brimming with life.

This street, even this country, is not always brimming with my life, the way I experience it, anyway. But perception is a strong ally and a worst enemy, depending on our perspective. When I’m feeling low, I see an old street with an aging population and abandoned buildings – an abandoned commitment to life, and renewal.

On better days, I look around and see so much life it bursts my heart.

Life is just … life. We choose how to see it, and what to see.

Let’s choose life!

Thank you so much for your interest and participation. xo

My Street Japan. Day 46

My Street Japan. DAY 46. Tammy S. Stone

My Street Japan. DAY 46. Tammy S. Stone

Autumn giving way to winter

Too soon – the sun has been

Guiding our days infiltrating our dreams

Inviting mountain views warming the skin

And then it rains

And then it rains

A sweet whisper about passage

And the view comes closer

We draw within, examine cold hands

Attend to shortened breath

See the tree in the foreground

Color clinging still

Life upon life upon life

– Tammy T. Stone 2015

Mandala Haiku Video

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

I am still in the early stages of coming to terms with writing haiku…

… though they have long pulled me in to their world of brevity, bright clarity, wisdom and naked, emotive imagery. I’m a novice! I read the works of Bashō and other great haiku poets, and am humbled by their brilliance, and inspired to live, breathe and encounter this world as I imagine they must have, to make my way toward insights and expressions such as these:

In the cicada’s cry/ No sign can foretell/ How soon it must die.

Matsuo Bashō

Blowing from the west/ Fallen leaves gather/ In the east.

Yosa Buson

Don’t weep, insects -/ Lovers, stars themselves/ Must part.

Kobayashi Issa

Though I love writing in almost every form, from the personal essay, to short stories and other forms of poetry, there is something that keeps me trying my hand at haiku. Doing so feels only like a great writing practice but a spiritual one as well (aren’t all our practices spiritual at heart?). The haiku invites us to distill our emotions, experiences and sensory life into their deepest essence, so that we can better understand ourselves as we journey toward communicating our lived experiences with the world.

I was guided by instinct to create mandala using a computer program that allows me to use my own photographs as the source imagery. Though the original images are completely obscured, the final mandala would be impossible without them. Outer beauty meets with ethereal, cosmic source! So, too, with the haiku, that most vivid snapshot of our unique experiences, which are forever hidden outside the context of their moment of occurrence, but serve as the foundation and inspiration for the words we can then bring into shared experience.

I’d like to thank Catherine Ghosh from the bottom of my heart for holding my mandala haiku into her brilliant, creative hands and weaving her magic to make the beautiful video below, featuring the stunning, serene music of Paul Avgerinos. Catherine continues to help me see and understand that every work of art is part of a greater whole, and that we shine so much brighter through the lens of a shared vision. Thank you, Catherine, for bringing this video into life!

This was originally published on Women’s Spiritual Poetry: