Sunday, July 26, 2009


Little green berries have formed where small pinkish-white flowers once bloomed!

This is the beautyberry at our garden spot; I'll post a news flash as soon as the berries turn that gorgeous autumn purple that gives this perennial its name.

Remember, you can click on the picture for a larger view.

Garden Spot/Buddha in High Summer

The lemongrass has surrounded our red Buddha from K-Mart! Search the blog for the "Garden Spot" entry on March 25 to see how the landscape has changed.

Living in Season: New Website

I felt honored recently to be asked by my friend Waverly Fitzgerald to contribute to her new web site, Living in Season. I met Waverly on line and by mail a number of years ago, when I contributed an article and a poem to a women's spirituality magazine that she was editing at the time, The Beltane Papers.

Since then, I've followed Waverly's work at the School of the Seasons web site and on her blog. Much of the seasonal focus here on A Word Witch is directly attributable to Waverly's influence as I read her work over the years.

The new Living in Season web site is a re-worked version of Waverly's earlier blog; it's an expanded, graphically-enhanced feast for the mind and the eye that is sure to appeal to everyone who longs for a bit more of a connection to the natural world as the seasons shift and change.

My contribution is "Hope in a Hot Season," about Florida's shift from high summer into pre-autumn; you can read it here. (Scroll down; it's the second entry on the page.)

Congratulations and many thanks to Waverly and her web designer, Joanna Powell Colbert of Gaian Design, for bringing us such lovely inspirations.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Powerful Words from a Peanut Farmer

I'm not sure how I missed this in the news, but here it is—former USA President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter's statement about why he is leaving the Southern Baptist Convention after 60 years. Powerful words, indeed.

Losing my religion for equality

by Jimmy Carter

July 15, 2009

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: "The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn't until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

Summer Joy: Perfect Tomato Sandwich

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy a fresh tomato sandwich. Here's the one I had for lunch today.

The perfect tomato sandwich is always simple. Two slices of your favorite bread, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. And of course, slices of the freshest tomato in a thickness of your choice. For a variation—like the one in this picture—you can add some slices of cucumber. Or maybe onion. Add anything else, though, and it becomes a different kind of sandwich.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Death of an Icon

I wouldn't be a good newshound if I didn't lament the passing of "Uncle Walter" Cronkite, who for so many of us for so many years WAS the evening news.

I remember when the evening newscast was lengthened from 15 minutes to 30 minutes, to give the broadcasters time to cover the news in more depth, and I remember Douglas Edwards, who was the broadcaster at CBS before Cronkite—but it is Cronkite that I remember most strongly from the years when I was still living with my parents.

Later, out on my own and in college—when I was fortunate enough to have a TV, which wasn't always the case—my news broadcast of choice became the Huntley-Brinkley Report on NBC. It seemed to me, at the time, that Brinkley's reporting on the Vietnam War was deeper and more scathing than Cronkite's, and since I didn't support that war, I liked the NBC broadcast better.

But of course I will never forget Cronkite's coverage of John F. Kennedy's assassination and its aftermath. Here's a cogent quote from Cronkite—his closing remarks after JFK's funeral—that appeared in our local paper today:

"It is said that the human mind has a greater capacity for remembering the pleasant than the unpleasant.

But today was a day that will live in memory and in grief. Only history can write the importance of this day: Were these dark days the harbingers of even blacker ones to come, or like the black before the dawn shall they lead to some still as yet indiscernible sunrise of understanding among men, that violent words, no matter what their origin or motivation, can lead only to violent deeds?


Tonight there will be few Americans who will go to bed without carrying with them the sense that somehow they have failed.

If in the search of our conscience we find a new dedication to the American concepts that brook no political, sectional, religious or racial divisions, then maybe it may yet be possible to say that John Fitzgerald Kennedy did not die in vain.

That's the way it is, Monday, Nov. 25, 1963. This is Walter Cronkite, good night."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

40 Years Ago Today/The Moon, Music, and a Black Bottom Pie

Forty years ago today, I woke up early at my parents' house in Orlando, tried not to make too much noise as I grabbed the car keys, and left before dawn with my friend Pam to drive my dad's black VW beetle to Cape Canaveral to watch Apollo 11 lift off for the moon.

We got as close as we could to the Cape in the pre-dawn hours, which meant—at least for us—parking with about a million other cars along U.S. 1, then spreading out a blanket on the shoulder of the road and trying to get a little more sleep, our heads only feet from the wheels of the huge semi trucks that rolled north toward Jacksonville about every three minutes.

The launch, much later in the day, was impressive. There's no way to really describe the roar the big rocket made as it lifted off into the sky. It was a thrilling moment.

Pam and I didn't want to fight the traffic going back toward Orlando, so we drove to Cocoa Beach and had a swim in the Atlantic Ocean. We got back to Orlando with the bare minimum of time to be driven to the bus station to catch our ride home to Gainesville, but not before my mom produced two slices of homemade black bottom pie. Of course, we each had to have a piece! And then, we had to have another.

Yes, we ate the whole dang pie in about five minutes. I remember being fairly uncomfortable on the long bus ride back home.

After we got back to Gainesville, we caught a ride with another friend (who had a car!) to Jacksonville to see my favorite band, The Tropics, out of St. Petersburg. I had a huge crush on the bass player; my favorite song of theirs was "Badge," which had been recorded by Cream and had a wicked bass line.

We got home late that night. We were very tired. When I stumbled in to work the next day, none of my supervisors had remembered that I had turned in a vacation leave form for July 16, 1969. They acted like their bad memories were all my fault! One of my first encounters with workplace hell.

But their bad memories weren't my problem. I had just made a memory to last a lifetime.

Here's my mom's recipe.

BLACK BOTTOM PIE (filling for one pie)

Make pie crust; bake and cool.

Soften 1 pkg. plain gelatin in 4 Tbsps. cool water. Mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1-1/4 Tbsp. cornstarch. Separate 2 eggs. Add beaten yolks to sugar mixture, then gradually add 2 cups milk. Cook slowly until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat & reserve 1 cup mixture.

Add gelatin to remaining mixture; stir until dissolved. Then add 1 tsp. rum flavoring. Add 1 to 1-1/2 squares chocolate to the 1 cup mixture, melt and mix with rotary beater, then stir in 1 tsp. vanilla. Put the shallow chocolate layer into the pie crust. Chill. Chill the gelatin mix until it begins to set; fold in beaten egg whites to which 1/4 cup sugar has been added w. a bit of salt and cream of tartar. Pour this on top of chocolate layer; chill and serve with whipped cream or grated chocolate or tiny chocolate bits.


(The picture of the pie, above, is from Nibbledish.)

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Today I reconnected with a friend from long ago and members of her family. What a great thing, to find out that after all these years we can still have a vibrant friendship.

We had lunch on the banks of the Withlacoochee River, west of Ocala. Here's a picture of the river—a reminder of our connection to the real Florida that extends beyond the borders of Disney World, major metropolitan areas, and strip malls.

I feel sorry for the folks who visit our state who never get far enough away from the attractions and the cities to see the real jewels of the Florida landscape.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Coming Home Rainbow

I got home from my trip to KTD and Woodstock the evening of July 8. Here's what greeted me as I stepped out of the car—a rainbow every bit as big and bright as the one I photographed over KTD! This rainbow was so big that I couldn't fit all of it into one photo.

I think maybe His Holiness Karmapa and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche are following me around.

Woodstock/Rain of Flowers

We had a rain of flowers the last night I was in Woodstock. I'll post this picture because it may be the best photo of this phenomenon—rain falling while the sun is shining—that I ever take.

I went back and looked at my notes on "rain of flowers" at one of Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche's recent teachings. Rinpoche said that if this event occurs near a high-level teacher, it's probably associated with that person; "Otherwise, it's just weather."

Woodstock/Graffiti 4, Then and Now

Woodstock then: Peace, Love, and Music
Woodstock now: Dollars, Stars, and Cars

Found in the restroom at Taco Juan's.

Woodstock/Graffiti 3, The Wall

Amazing. Someone should do a book on Woodstock graffiti; or perhaps they already have.

Woodstock/Graffiti 2, Eye of Horus

Horus was the falcon god of ancient Egypt, and his eye—especially the left eye—was considered a powerful symbol to ward off evil spirits. Or so I have heard. I really like this version, on the graffiti wall along Woodstock's Millstream.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Woodstock/Graffiti 1, Love

I waded up the Millstream yesterday with my friend Sandra, who knew where there is a good graffiti wall. Here's one of my favorites from the wall, above.

The most important thing you'll ever learn
Is to love and be loved in return.

KTD 10-Day Teachings/The Long and Winding Road

Tomorrow I leave Woodstock. We have been having rain last night and today, and everything is wet and leaves have been blowing off the trees.

I took this picture yesterday, looking back up the hill as I was coming down off the mountain (KTD is on Mount Guardian), and it reminded me of one of my favorite Beatles songs.

Think of the lyrics as a devotional song to Karmapa, KTD, and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche—not just a romantic love song.


The long and winding road

That leads to your door

Will never disappear

I've seen that road before

It always leads me here

Lead me to your door.

The wild and windy night

That the rain washed away

Has left a pool of tears

Crying for the day.

Why leave me standing here?

Let me know the way.

Many times I've been alone

And many times I've cried,

Anyway you've always known

The many ways I've tried.

And still they lead me back

To the long, winding road

You left me standing here

A long, long time ago

Don't leave me standing here

Lead me to your door.

But still they lead me back

To the long winding road

You left me standing here

A long, long time ago (ohhh)

Don't keep me waiting here (don't keep me waiting)

Lead me to your door. (yeah yeah yeah yeah)

KTD 10-Day Teachings/Song of the Turkey Buzzard

Turkey Vulture, photo by Elizabeth Barakah Hodges

Back in the 1980s, when I was working as a program assistant for the University Extension division of the University of California at Berkeley, I made the mistake of reading Lew Welch’s poem Song of the Turkey Buzzard on my lunch hour.

I say “mistake” because the poem—in which Welch predicts his own suicide and sky burial—had a profound emotional effect on me, and I went into what I can only describe as some kind of altered state for about four hours. In short—I was useless at my job that afternoon.

In Tibet, where the ground is often too frozen to allow for burial and where firewood for cremations can be scarce, one way that the dead are “buried” is through what is called sky burial—ritual dismemberment of the corpse, the parts of which are then consumed by vultures.

So I was stunned to hear the following story, tacked onto one of the morning teachings by Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche as a seemingly impromptu embellishment. (Note from AWW: This is not a verbatim transcript.)

In Tibet, the people who prepare bodies for sky burial are chod practitioners who do practice for the people who have died.

The birds that eat the bodies are considered dakas and dakinis, and are remarkable in their behavior.

After people who have earned merit through compassionate actions are dismembered, vultures will encircle the body but not touch it. Another vulture comes from the sky, gives a call, and lands on the center of the body. This vulture does a little dance, and then begins to eat—at which point the other vultures begin to eat, too.

The feast is considered a ganachakra (sacred feast), and the central vulture is the ganachakra master.

Now, many people will think this is a gruesome story, but I think it’s beautiful—and it connected me, immediately, to that experience long ago when I read Song of the Turkey Buzzard for the first time.

So I wonder if Lew Welch provided the food for a ganachakra, never seen by human eyes, out there in the California wilderness so long ago.

For Rock Scully
who heard it
the first
Praises, Tamalpais,
Perfect in Wisdom and Beauty,
She of the Wheeling Birds
The rider riddle is easy to ask,
but the answer might surprise you.
How desperately I wanted Cougar
(I, Leo, etc.)
brilliant proofs: terrain,
color, food, all
nonsense. All made up.
They were always there, the
laziest high-flyers, bronze-winged,
the silent ones
"A cunning man always laughs and smiles,
even if he's desperately hungry,
while a good bird always flies like a vulture,
even if it is starving."
(Milarepa sang)
Over and over again, that sign:
I hit one once, with a .22
heard the "flak" and a feather flew off, he
flapped his wings just once and
went on sailing. Bronze
(when seen from above)
as I have seen them, all day sitting
on a cliff so steep they
circled below me, in the up-draft
passed so close I could see his
Praises, Tamalpais,
Perfect in Wisdom and Beauty,
She of the Wheeling Birds
Another time the vision was so clear another saw it, too.
Wet, a hatching bird, the shell of the egg streaked with dry scum,
exhausted, wet, too weak to move the shriveled wings, fierce
sun-heat, sand. Twitching, as with elbows (we all have the same
parts). Beak open, neck stretched, gasping for air. O how we
want to live!
"Poor little bird," she said, "he'll never make it."
Praises, Tamalpais,
Perfect in Wisdom and Beauty,
She of the Wheeling Birds
Even so, I didn't get it for a long long while. It finally came
in a trance, a coma, half in sleep and half in fever-mind. A Turkey
Buzzard, wounded, found by a rock on the mountain. He wanted
to die alone. I had never seen one, wild, so close. When I reached
out, he sidled away, head drooping, as dizzy as I was. I put my
hands on his wing-shoulders and lifted him. He tried, feebly, to
tear at my hands with his beak. He tore my flesh too slightly to
make any difference. Then he tried to heave his great wings. Weak
as he was, I could barely hold him.
A drunken veterinarian found a festering bullet in his side,
a .22 that slid between the great bronze scales his feathers were.
We removed it and cleansed the wound.
Finally he ate the rotten gophers I trapped and prepared
for him. Even at first, he drank a lot of water. My dog seemed
frightened of him.
They smell sweet
meat is dry on their talons
The very opposite of
bird of re-birth
meat is rotten meat made
sweet again and
lean, unkillable, wing-locked
soarer till he's but a
speck in the highest sky
eye finds Feast! on
baked concrete
squashed rabbit ripened:
our good cheese
(to keep the highways clean, and bother no Being )
Praises Gentle Tamalpais
Perfect in Wisdom and Beauty of the
sweetest water
and the soaring birds
great seas at the feet of thy cliffs
Hear my last Will & Testament:
Among my friends there shall always be
one with proper instructions
for my continuance.
Let no one grieve.
I shall have used it all up
used up every bit of it.
What an extravagance!
What a relief!
On a marked rock, following his orders,
place my meat.
All care must be taken not to
frighten the natives of this
barbarous land, who
will not let us die, even,
as we wish.
With proper ceremony disembowel what I
no longer need, that it might more quickly
rot and tempt
my new form
(From "Ring of Bone" by Lew Welch, Grey Fox Press, Bolinas, California)

KTD 10-Day Teachings/Machik Labdron and the Practice of Severance (Chod)

The picture of Machik Labdron, above, is from an absolutely beautiful thangka that was won in a fundraising raffle (for the benefit of KTD) by one of our Western lamas.

I came to these teachings, a continuation of a teaching that was begun last year, for three reasons—first, because I am fascinated by the Tibetan woman Machik Labdron and her system of practice, chod or the severance of self-fixation; second, because the only relief I have ever experienced from being stuck in this bag of bones and flesh has come while writing or working with the tarot cards, and I think there must be some other way to overcome being stuck on “I”; third and finally, because as a Buddhist I have vowed to try to help all sentient beings, and so eventually being able to practice Machik’s system of severance on self-fixation may enable me to do this.

I have learned from my teachers—and it does seems to me to be true—that fixating on my own wants and desires is the source of numerous, all-pervasive problems. Severance offers the opportunity to cut through self-fixation once and for all, in order to benefit both the individual practitioner and, by extension, all sentient beings.

So I arrived in Woodstock and at KTD with a keen interest in getting further instruction from Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche on the text titled Machik’s Complete Explanation.

What I did not realize (and this falls into the category of things about which I can only say, DUH!) was that the teaching encompassed not only the reading transmission of the severance practice text, but also the full instructions on the practice itself! Rinpoche let this cat out of the bag in response to a question during the first couple of days of the teaching. My first clue about this should have come from the title of the text and the teaching—Machik’s COMPLETE Explanation—but for some reason, the idea that I would be receiving transmission and practice instructions went right over my head, probably because I have received these kinds of teachings in a different order in the past.

Usually I have taken an empowerment as part of a group and received the reading transmission (if it wasn’t done as part of the empowerment) and practice instructions later. So I asked Rinpoche if we weren’t getting the information backwards this time, and he explained that no, this is how practice instructions were usually given in Tibet—reading transmission and instructions first, and empowerment later. He explained that it’s fine to do things in this order, “as long as you plan to take the empowerment at a later date.”

So right away, my mind was blown; it got really blown apart a day or two later (see next post).

Here, in no particular order, are some gems from the teachings, things that I believe it’s okay to share:

-You include your parents in the practice of severance because they gave you the gift of your body. Your mind comes from your previous karma.

-The liturgy of the “Charity of the Body” (lu jin in Tibetan) was written by Machik herself. Note from A Word Witch (AWW): So when we hear the liturgy, or chant her words, we are really hearing her.

-Machik’s system begins with love (or lovingkindness, the wish for all beings to be happy) because “Love is like a pipe; compassion is the water that runs through the pipe.” (Compassion = the wish for beings to be free from suffering.)

-We are born with self-fixation, life after life. We mistake the absence of a self as the existence of a self. The seventh consciousness, which is the afflicted consciousness, mistakes the eighth or all-basis consciousness as a self. Note from AWW: So we are, in a sense, born trapped. This idea does not help my claustrophobia. L

-The idea that beings spend 49 days in the bardo (the in-between state between death and rebirth) is “a gross generalization.” For some beings, the time is shorter; for others, longer; and some beings don’t go into the bardo at all, but rather go straight to a pure realm or a hell realm.

-A highlight of the 10-day experience was watching some of the lamas who have gone through KTD’s three-year retreat perform the chod ritual, complete with mesmerizing drum and trumpet sounds and melodious chanting. Rinpoche encouraged us to pray to Machik throughout the ritual: “Great Mother, please grant me your blessings.” Note from AWW: I did as Rinpoche suggested, and felt that I had already received her blessings just by being there!

-Powa, or the transference of consciousness done at the time of death, was performed on animals (as well as people) in Tibet.

-Less effective: “May we get rid of swine flu.” More effective: “May everyone’s swine flu dissolve into me.”

-What we call death is simply the separation of body and mind. Note from AWW: Body rots. Mind doesn’t.

-There is no “near” or “far” with regard to the guru’s blessing. Blessings can be received anywhere, regardless of locality. Whenever anyone thinks of Buddha, Buddha is there—and the same applies to His Holiness Karmapa, Guru Rinpoche, and all other enlightened beings. People who hear statues speak (as is the case in Tibet; there are many stories) are those who are certain of the Buddha’s blessing; these sounds are not hallucinations. “Pray to those whose compassion is beyond near and far.”

-Someone asked a question about the relationship between taking pain medications at the time of death and doing the Buddhist practices that are usually performed at that time—good idea, or bad? Rinpoche said that if the medications help you to concentrate, they are okay; if they make you woozy, no.

-The very first question I ever asked Rinpoche, back in 1991, was related to my curiosity about whether some places were more conducive to meditation practice than others—so I was interested in hearing him say, in relation to a similar but not identical question, that the place of practice does not really matter for us as long as we are confident that the Buddhas and bodhisattvas are present. It’s good to think that “All wisdom dakas and dakinis are gathered in this place”; then your practice will flourish, and obstacles will be dispelled. When teachers have told students to go to certain places to meditate, it’s because the teachers have seen “through their wisdom vision” that the students have connections to those places that will help to ripen their dharmic development.

-Positive meditation experiences are not necessarily good. Negative meditation experiences are not necessarily bad.

Now, about the vultures…(see next post).

Monday, July 6, 2009

KTD 10-Day Teachings/Woodstock/Fireflies

I am staying at one of the several places in Woodstock that are on the banks of streams that run through the village.

Tonight, after dinner, the grounds are filled with the tiny twinkling lights of fireflies. I don't see fireflies very often any more; I think they may be casualties of too much pesticide use.

I remember catching fireflies in jars in Georgia—jars that had holes punched in the lids—on summer nights when it was much more pleasant to be outside than in. We lived on a creek, and our summer nights were filled with fireflies! Our jars glowed greenish-yellow with the many tiny lights; at the end of the evening, we'd open the lids and release the fireflies.

Tiny lights in the darkness remind me of the importance of light in almost all of the world's spiritual literature—including, of course, Buddhism's emphasis on enlightenment—and of one of my favorite poets, Lew Welch, who has been very much with me in spirit throughout the 10-day teachings at KTD. Here's one of his poems, about light:


At times we're almost able to see it was once all
Light, and wants to get back to it.

Not brilliant, swift, or huge, since Light
is the measure, and we are

Flake off of All-Measure
Cinder cast down from Sun

(explaining every "fall" and why we yearn so?)

Harnessed jelly of the Stars!

-Lew Welch, "Ring of Bone"