My Street Japan. Day 28.

My Street Japan. DAY 28. Tammy T. Stone

My Street Japan. DAY 28. Tammy T. Stone

Beautiful words by Herman Hesse:

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.

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Jack Kerouac on How to Meditate.

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Jack Kerouac was many things – writer, philosopher, artist, wanderer … and I’d like to add mystic to this list. In “How to Meditate”, he brings his unique literary voice to a process that, in the end, defies linguistic expression. Sometimes, though, a stunning rendering of words can be as meditative as the act of sitting on the cushion seeking peace. Meditation is not just something that happens on a cushion.

Whenever we can step back from our traditional way of looking at the world – from our busy minds, our many conditionings – and become present within our bodies and surroundings … this is meditation. From this space of presence and mindfulness, we can go deeper with our contemplations, and find that an opening has been provided, so that we can experience a vastness of experience typically unavailable to us.

We can access this state while on a long walk, surrounded by trees and and mountains and rivers, by staring into someone’s eyes with real presence and compassion, and also by reading the inspired words of others. May these words fuel calm and happiness for you!

HOW TO MEDITATE

— lights out —

fall, hands a-clasped, into instantaneous
ecstasy like a shot of heroin or morphine,
the gland inside of my brain discharging
the good glad fluid (Holy Fluid) as
I hap-down and hold all my body parts
down to a deadstop trance — Healing
all my sicknesses — erasing all — not
even the shred of a “I-hope-you” or a
Loony Balloon left in it, but the mind
blank, serene, thoughtless. When a thought
comes a-springing from afar with its held-
forth figure of image, you spoof it out,
you spuff it out, you fake it, and
it fades, and thought never comes — and
with joy you realize for the first time
“Thinking’s just like not thinking —
So I don’t have to think
any
more”

A Most Inspiring Quote for Hard Times – article goes viral!

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

Hello everybody!

I’m so excited to see an article I wrote earlier in the month for elephant journal has struck a chord with so many readers! It’s about four words that really jarred me when I stumbled upon them during my travels in Southeast Asia.

The best finds are surprising ones …

Take a look at the article and let me know what you think!

Tammy x

 The Quote that Stopped Me in my Tracks & Woke Me Up.

 

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

The Quote that Stopped Me in my Tracks & Woke Me Up.

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

 

I came to Paulo Coelho reluctantly, though I couldn’t tell you why.

But there he was, dotting the backpacker circuit of Southeast Asia, in nearly every guesthouse I passed through, squeezed into crammed shelves, falling apart under bamboo side tables, half-wildly torn and soggy under beer glass condensation.

Always in need of reading material, and craving a break from reading on my laptop, I found myself inching closer and closer to Coelho’s well-read body of work.

One by one, I started reading his books and falling into his lyrical phrasing and optimistic, oneiric spiritualism. I wouldn’t say I became hooked. It was more of a lingering, intermittent and sometimes dysfunctional relationship—and periodically, I would keep coming back for more.

Regardless of how I felt about everything I read of Coelho’s, I will be forever grateful to him for how interwoven his work became with such a meaningful period of my life. These books allowed me to get swept away in his sandy, windblown parables, and occasionally brought me, slap-in-the-face-like, back to the present moment, where I needed to confront myself.

I’ll be totally honest: I can’t remember right now which book it was that struck me with this amazing quote, and I also can’t swear that it’s a direct quote and not a paraphrase. In fact, that memory is a fallible and very creative thing ties into the quote that inspired me to write this.

I do remember the book was about a man who lost the one woman he really loved and was trying to figure out how to get her back, and how to get to the bottom of who he really was, that he could have loved and lost like this.

He asked a wise person for advice and was told to forget everything, to forget his biography and just be—to discover himself in this way, in the shining light of the present moment (my interpretation).

The thought panicked him (and me, by proxy).

How can I stay myself if I willingly forget all that I was? he asked.

And he was told: the important stuff stays.

The important stuff stays.

I’ve had similar fears to the man in the story. I’ve long tended to hold on to too much: too much pain, negativity, doubtful feelings…and I’ve suspected that this has led me not only headlong into life via the modes of confusion and uncertainty, but also to my slowly unfolding journey of turning this around.

During my long travels, I may not have been searching for that one person, that emblem of love and self-fulfillment, of the protagonist of this book (though maybe we always are, in a way)—but I was, without a doubt, reaching for something exciting and elusive. And I was certainly trying to be in two places at once—in the past that was always dancing on my shoulders, never far away from my deepest emotions,  and also in a long-awaited, mythical future where everything would fall beautifully together.

Of course, we can’t be in two places at once, any more than we can ever be in back the past, or ahead in the future.

How does one really start over, though—as much as we really want to at the very core of our being – without fearing a complete annihilation of self?

When I read that the important stuff stays, it seemed too simple to hold onto, but so deeply, profoundly sensible at the same time.

Nothing of value will ever be forgotten because there’s no malevolent force out there that wants you to suffer. We make ourselves suffer. If we can only eliminate the causes of suffering—the clinging, the grasping—there might well be a treasure of stuff (we are the treasure!) there for the taking.

We need only to lighten up, literally, metaphorically, and enjoy the proverbial ride, and know that we will not be completely annihilated if we do so.

What’s left behind, we don’t need. What remains, remains. And this remainder will always be enough.

 

*Postscript: I’ve looked into it now, and the book is called The Zahir: A Novel of Obsession. Recommended!

 

*Note: This has just been published on elephant journal – and it’s gone viral! Thanks to the people over there for helping me share my words; they work so hard and do great work!

Typhoon. {Poem}

 

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

 

Typhoon

Howling, stormy heart,

The gods speak through everything

Days like this.

Plants you tended with all the care

You have, you thought they were

Touch and go, but now watch them

Flying over, bounding back

Resounding and persistent.

It has been caring for me.

It is meant for things like this.

It pulsates where I am the

One who falls, looking

For the sun.

Vortice: A Rebellion in Peace

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No End

(Flashback)

They said the world might well reach its last moments on December 12, 2012, or 12/12/12. But here I am, early in the morning on this day, and I’m alive, and the world is still here. I’m in Thailand, which is now well into its dry, so-called winter season. It rained all night, which is very unusual for this time of year. It was still drizzling this morning, when we got up to meditate. It was hard not to think in metaphors, in lurid symbolism. Could this be an actual watering down, in a way, of the cataclysm we were all bracing for? A reminder that dark times were nearly averted and could return, vengeance-like, anytime, provided we don’t learn how to live properly? Was it just rain? Is anything ever “just” that thing? I’ve come to learn that it’s rarely the case that something is nothing. After all, each of us makes the world, our world, and why would we make nothing? Why would we make at all? The trick, I feel, is to remember, and to remember all the time, that we have made and we do make our world – and ourselves – every moment. We need to be acutely aware of this process of self-creation and world-creation if we want to live in a world that is also a world-of-conscience. Today, here, now: a dull, light rain in an otherwise sunny and perfect season. Perhaps our fears, then, while dulling us, are also lightening or easing, though they have not completely disappeared. There are some who believe it to be this way: that the end of the world predicted by many has been avoided because of all the work people have been doing with the forces of Light. This is a beautiful idea, that amid news of calamity and destruction and hopelessness, there is indeed a movement of luminosity underway, that underpinning the rain and our fear is beauty and hope for re-genesis – so that it’s actually possible to partake in the world’s recovery. There are others still who say it’s ridiculous to assume that Mother Nature will cave under the weight of human misbehavior, that nature is much, much stronger than anything we can do to annihilate her. We might meet our end sooner rather than later, but Nature will survive, and prosper, and new life will grow – this is the nature of nature being herself. What is true is also what is undeniable: we are still here now, and Earth is still here now, and there is as much potential for laughter as for sadness, and as much ability for light as for dark. This, I believe: we make our world, and then we remake it. Every time. Is this fanciful thinking? Because it’s as practical as any thought I feel I’ve had. I can’t imagine anything more powerful than turning a day around by willfully neglecting a negative thought, and I’ve already watched this work and succeed. If it can be done, it’s because we’ve done it. If we haven’t done it, we have absolutely no way of proving it cannot be done. This is logic. So let’s meet the world we have made, see where it can use some work (some of our light), and know that this work is nothing more or less than spinning on the axis of love (we love love, we fear love, we too often narrow the scope of love) and the creative power that belongs – intrinsically so – to all of us. Let’s also remember: the point isn’t to live forever any more than it is to actively avert death, to get away with not dying. The point is to embrace death as well as all the moments of not-yet-in-death that remain to us.

This article was recently published in “Vortice: The Eye of the Needle”, a collection of work paying tribute to the original Vortice movement, described by the editor of this collection like this: “The year 2014 brings the 100th anniversary of the founding of Vorticism, a short-lived and militant English art and literary movement that defiantly rejected the popular conventions of the day.” Please see the full editor’s statement, and the rest of the amazing work in the collection here.

A Poem for Father’s Day (and all days).

This poem was recently published on elephant journal, a great platform for the mindful life, and where I write a column. Check it out!

My father is far, because he is on the other side of the Earth from where I am now, and near, because that’s what love is.

 

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To My Father, Far and Near

 

This morning, a reflection on a youth that was mine.

A walk on a path leading to some woods on the opposite side of the world from my origins, last week’s rain skipping, giddy, toward today’s greenness and vibrancy.

There are sprouting flowers on shrubs and grass to light the way, and I’m overcome:

I don’t know how it started, but in one moment I can’t frame or measure, I am not here,
I am someone else that was once me.

A weekend trip, a hike somewhere in that childhood magical landscape belonging to no one else, a walk in a wooded place with my father, who was everything, who knew it all and lit my world with his bright eyes and

infectious smile, so that a quiet stream became an odyssey in crossing (our mother hen clutching his camera for him, wondering if her whole family might be washed away on a Sunday afternoon),

the trees our navigation, our plaything, our home in every forest and jungle. He taught us to climb, and to see the world from way up there (I am always trying to find my way back up there).

I’m still with him, now: the walk with all those red leaves, and twisted branches shaped like alive things we could never resist. Did my sister win or lose the bet that had her carrying a rock the size of “I love you thisssss much” back to the car, where my mother had a picnic waiting?

She carried it well; my father helped her know there was no reason she might falter.

There were many times like this in my childhood. My father juggling with the dishes, breaking a few but succeeding in letting us in on a little secret about how gravity might be toyed with.

Times like these.

Taking his girls-who-were-not-boys to the hardware store, or his enormous warehouse spaces of work, transforming wherever we were into our very own land of play and adventure. Giving us that freedom.

These spaces that keep expanding with the emotions, now, that fill it, without end, nostalgia on top of old euphorias.

All the woods in the world, the ones who have seen me and the ones that await
meet me today with a kind of breathless force:

I never quite knew what I loved and I can’t have it back,

But I can come close to knowing what is still there, what is now, what made me, the making of love.

(The purple flowers that drew me into these woods this morning, invite me, and so I find my brimming-heart place of now, and I enter.)

 

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