a selection of quotes, poetry, and very short essays that resonate
|The creature at your feet dismissed as a bug or a weed
is a creation in and of itself.
It has a name, a million-year history, and a place in the world."
- Edward O. Wilson
"The Future of Life"
“Love many things,
for therein lies the true strength,
and whosoever loves much performs much,
and can accomplish much,
and what is done in love is done well.”
- Vincent van Gogh
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean –
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down –
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
- Mary Oliver
“Art-making is not unlike Zen meditation: emptying the mind of all that is superfluous. Making site-specific and often ephemeral art is, repeatedly, a reopening of this intimate conversation between your inner core and transformative transcendence. This is the ancient monastic way: unknowing of the outcome but patiently trusting the process, generously open to the unknown.
I respect and embrace a way of making art where one is constantly willing and able to sacrifice everything, risking oneself with little outside support and even adversarial, destructive criticism from the art world. This is painful, but to develop a very tough skin is not the answer, because those high-walled defenses can make you cynical, jaded. You must remain vulnerable, to some extent, even as you suffer, because it is in this very capacity to remain vulnerable where your openness to newness and true creativity is possible. Nevertheless, it is a deceptively raw personal nakedness, this willingness to make myself vulnerable again, because it is based on much formal training. The little monk always looks insignificant, of no importance: weak, harmless, foolish, and dismissible. But that humble state is intended, because it is the root of wonders. That is how I live as an artist, not unlike how I lived as a monk.”
- Ernesto Pujol
quoted in “Buddha Mind in Contemporary Art”
“Culture isn’t the opposite or contrary of nature. It’s the interface between us and the non-human world, our species semi-permeable membrane.” - Richard Mabey
"...All this suggests that myths grow not in the soil of any particular place, but in the humus of humanity itself. We are not strangers to each other. We drink from different wells, but the same aquifer. A Hindu myth about the god Indra offers a beautiful illustration of this untuitive principle. Indra once wove a net to encompass the world, and at each knot fastened a bell. Thus nothing could stir--not a person, not a leaf on a tree, not a single emotion -- without ringing a bell, which would, in turn, set all the others to ringing."
- dominique mazeaud
If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud there will be no water; without water the trees cannot grow; and without trees, you cannot make paper. So the cloud is in here. The existence of this page is dependent on the existence of a cloud. Paper and cloud are so close. Let us think of other things, like sunshine. Sunshine is very important because the forest cannot grow without sunshine, and we as humans cannot grow without sunshine. So the logger needs sunshine in order to cut the tree, and the tree needs sunshine in order to be a tree. Therefore, you can see sunshine in this sheet of paper. And if you look more deeply, with the eyes of a bodhisattva, with the eyes of those who are awake, you see not only the cloud and the sunshine in it, but that everything is here, the wheat that became the bread for the logger to eat, the logger's father – everything is in this sheet of paper....
This paper is empty of an independent self. Empty, in this sense, means that the paper is full of everything, the entire cosmos. The presence of this tiny sheet of paper proves the presence of the whole cosmos.
- Thich Nhat Hanh
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles,
through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
from Dream Work by Mary Oliver
published by Atlantic Monthly Press
© Mary Oliver