Robert Servais

Robert Servais - Unsplash

Authored by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2012 All Rights Reserved.

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Cool Dawn Light

Cold green pool under green trees.

Grey sky.

Edge of autumn. This world

Is here without design.

The Chinese said tzu-jan,


Deep down in the silence,

You can feel it,

All that process,

All that order,

Smooth as silk

And all without us.

Mist on the green pool

In the morning.

Chill leaves stir. This world

Moves without intent.

The Chinese said wu-wei

Without making.

No hidden mind here,

Cool dawn light.

The End Of History

The end of History

Is filled with intricate detail,

Plenty of action,

Not a silent end,

On a silent beach.

The end of History

Is not the end of war,

Technology, interest, event.

It’s simply that

We end in repetition.

To endure you must

Get used to the repeats,

Always entertaining,

And the sameness

Of the thought.

The end of History

Is not the end of mind,

Science is delightful;

It’s simply that there

Are no further values

Than those we know.

Love, truth and beauty

Not enough for you?

The end of History

Is not the end of those.

Respect, at last, arrives

For the creatures, the planet,

And the individual life.

True, sensitive, and kind:

The final refuge.

The end of History

Is full of subtle detail

Replete with action,

And not a silent end,

On a silent beach.

Under Clumps Of Pine

No point planning the spontaneous move.

In a flash, the brushstroke in the air,

The dancer in the dance,

The exercise of thoughtless skill is Te.

Here the fallen trees, the broken rocks,

Roots, rot, down to the heartwood,

Floor of the forest,

Mist on the mountain-top, alight.

This too a lightning-flash in eternity,

Unfolded from itself, self-organised,

Temporary the order

Out of chaos, we call beauty.

Under clumps of pine in the rain,

Watching the peak float in the fog,

A murmur somewhere

Of the running stream; all this life.

What To Be?

Our relationship with Nature,

Slowly changing, swiftly changing.

Imagining the meld of mind and machine

Savouring the cool air of the forest.

Our relationship with space and time,

Swiftly changing, slowly changing.

Imagining the meld of mind and machine

Touching distant galaxies in silence.

Our relationship with each other,

Slowly changing, swiftly changing.

Imagining the meld of minds, machines,

Joining thoughts over aeons.

Freeing the mind of technology,

Its implications; thinking

Of values, thinking of purpose.

What to do then; aim for; what to be?

White Cloud Drifts

White cloud drifts. Leaves turn

In the breeze. On mountain slope

The white streams scour the rock.

Pale grasses in the shadows.

The sky is clear, nothing hidden.

Our ignorance we call mystery.

Measuring the darkness, no need:

Everything settles by itself.

Deep midnight hum of universe,

Shadows flicker, leaves sigh,

Fall of water, in the darkness.

Floating there, the bright moon.

No mind, and no reflection.

No will, and no intent,

Following the mountain trail,

Silently, seasons pass.

Beyond the City

The track disappears in bushes,

Thorn and scrub, the air close

I sit on a log,

Watch the tree-creeper

Spiral upwards

Far hush of the city,

Still roads.

Here a mind,

There the silence

Which is which?

Look down at the floor

Of the wood, its detritus,

Intricacy of twigs,

Bark, leaves, dust, fibre,

Nature’s leavings,

Which are Nature,

And not left. Look up,

Tendrils, shapes of cloud,

The thousand forms,

Swirling in the eye.

Here is a space. To be.

No sound, distant houses.

Deep in your original

Mind, is the gleam

Of valley haze, cool air.

The Real Makers

Power is empty, though it makes

The world of phantoms work.

Ghosts, we pass, and pay

Lip-service to the powers.

A thousand stratagems

To rationalize the weird.

Buildings, clothes and cars:

But still a world of spirits.

Minds in the window-glass

Stop and reflect.

Cities standing, maya,

In the silent universe.

Easy to tell yourself it’s real,

Vanish in the maze of names

And forms; drink the tea,

Speak the ritual, be careful.

The world is solid in the dark,

Less so in the light.

No I’ve no anger for those

In power. They are

Human beings just like me,

And fallible, just Egos.

Phantoms without masks

Are simply phantoms.

Most are powerless. History

Is empty. This irreal world

Is made of hidden thoughts,

Of ghosts of ghosts,

The spirits of the phantoms,

Shining in the dark of the world.

Into Quiet Air

It’s sudden awakening,

And nothing changed!

The sky is clear,

World is how it is.

Smoke haze on granite ridges,

Deep light in the trees.

Everything wavers,

Then is still.

Everyday life

Is perfect awakening.

Nothing special,

Undefiled by thought.

Not by meditation

Or intention,

The leaves move

The moon wanders.

Sunyata is emptiness,

Wu is non-being,

Neither are other

Than the silent mountain.

What you think is flowing,

That is still.

What you think is still,

That is flowing:

Caught on the snow-peak

The clouds stop moving.

Trees and granite slide

To the creek.

Tun wu, flash of insight

Offers nothing.

The void is not void,

The real not real.

Nothing to find here,

Standing in the snow.

No Wheel of Being,

This Moment is the Wheel.

Set down your mind

Steadily before you,

Watch it vanish

Into quiet air.

Sleeping, Waking

Do all those memories

Help or hinder?

Mind makes obstacles.

Mind stirs up thoughts.

In the great Void

Move sun, moon and stars,

Wandering mind,

Regretful heart.

Bright blue sky,

Birds fly through it.

Mountain shimmers,

Ancient places.

Nothing else.

No mind in the Void.

Stone without purpose.

Grass without intent.

Sleeping without dreams

Under far heavens.

Waking to green meadow,

Green thought, green stream.

Listening In The Clearing

Sudden barking: an adder slides away in the sun.

Brown-yellow bracken, that oily scent.

The slow-curving ridged backs of hills,

The layers of trees,

Birch, oak, down to the alder in the valley,

Blood-red cut trunks, black sinuous stream.

Sudden crashing: deer gone through the trees.

Salt-licks in hollows, moss-green roots,

The high dark crests of ridges,

Stone shelves of forest,

Birch saplings shading the leaf-filled ditch,

Thin white streams threading the mountain.

Empty Mirror

Why an intent among the stars?

What purpose?

We can drift

Through eternity

If we choose.

Why the frustration, duhkha,

And the pain?

Where are we

Off to travelling

In the night?

The mirror is empty,

And the lake is dry,

Where is freedom?

Don’t strive, don’t grasp,

Don’t crave, don’t cling.

Leaf drops from the tree.

Cloud slides

From the mountain.

Stream from the ledge,

Moon from the sky.

Form Is Void Just As It Is

Squirming life in the darkness,

Eels in the tide,

Still this is void,

And nothing to be grasped.

Flailing pine on the hill,

Black in the milky light,

Still this is simply void,

And nothing has risen.

Thoughts in the cool night,

World silent, sighing, calm.

Still life is merely void,

No constant Self exists.

Dawn World

Down the valley: trees and no people.

The world is that, the world is such,


The awakening an awakening,

Nothing new:

Sun breaking from behind the one peak.

In cold morning air the world turns stone,

Then cloud, then stream,

No beginning and no end.

Frost on the cliff-face, smoke from the fire,

The world, so, far beyond the mind,

Slowly alters temperature.

The perfect feeling? Clear, calm affection.

Oh so difficult.

Dawn world: chilled trees and no people.

Nothing There

Long narrow trail along the hillside.

High to look down, fearful mind,

Feet slipping on the peat track.

This is form, and this is void.

There is what is, and nothing else.

Mind descends into the bracken,

Chases each frond to its base,

Awake, there’s nothing new to see,

No addition. World is free, world is free.

Scrambling along the hill-track,

I saw that nirvana is samsara.

All these forms and nothing there.


Nothing to do to make it so.

Washing in the mountain stream,

You can even wash the mind.

By seeing, not by trying, we see.

In too much concentration on the thing,

We miss the thing itself, in the mind.

By too much meditation on its nature,

Nature just passes us by.

Who thinks to find the self, loses it.

Who thinks to lose the self, finds it.

Losing or finding the self:

Neither leads to the mindless trail.

Freezing water, wind in the pines.

Trees all sway, the heart flickers.

The world is always like this.

Nothing to do to make it so.

All Grass

Like a network of crystals

The diamond sutras,

Shining quartz in the rock.

I trace the glittering veins.

Like a web white with dew,

The jewelled meanings,

Brightly strung in the silence.

I trace the gleaming jewels.

West and East: a weight of being.

All the objects of existence,

The emotions and the actions.

I trace the silent trail.

No one means to come so far.

Once here, no way back.

All naked flowing light,

All grass under the stars.

Mountain Zen

Mountain Zen is hard to understand.

Try it without the understanding.

There is the cataloguing of nature,

There is the mindless letting-go.

Wandering through trees and grasses,

Hairy seeds blowing in the wind,

Following the moonlight on the stream,

Chasing the radiance in the clouds.

Mountain Zen won’t get you anywhere.

It means leaving everything alone.

There is trying to dictate the process,

There is watching everything go by.

Sitting on the un-carved rock, in the sun,

Drifting silently among the pines,

Pollen spills across your quiet heart,

Pale birch leaves whisper in the light.

Trust In The Heart

Big weathered rocks,

This place is ancient.

Stone-axe factory

On the slopes,

Bone arrow-heads

Amongst the scree.

Empty caves, old hearths,

The silent people.

Beautiful arcs of slender trees,

Brushing their leaves

Through the torrent,

Green meadow at the foot,

All the signs

Of our past below

The mountain.

Something carves

Into the body.

Where we came from

Is almost a memory,

Latent in the bones

In the skin,

Aeons pulsing.

No paintings here,

No rock-carved art,

No ochre daubs,

No statuettes of bone,

Just a feeling

Deep in the mind,

And a voice saying

Trust in the heart.

In The Space Inside

Mind is the sky.

Birds are the thoughts

Coming and going.

You can shoot them

With your feathered

Arrows, then they die.

You can fly with them

Imitating form,

Admiring process.

Through the blue

Void of your

Past they swirl.

Sometimes they

Are clouds,

Wisps of future.

In the morning

They fly East,

West at night.

They leave no

Trace, you can

Watch them go.

No one knows

What kind of

Birds they are.

They fly too

High, they fly

Too swiftly.

Their call falls

Through the

Space of mind.

The cry of all

The birds

In the world.

Direct Pointing

The Tao is like the empty sky.

Open your eyes and you see it.

It needs no discipline, no intent.

The wind at dawn blows through.

The Tao is like the moonlit lake.

See it and your mind grows quiet.

It’s nothing to try for or to gain.

The light goes deep in the water.

The Tao is like the running stream.

Look there, your heart grows still.

Altering, it’s one and the same.

Motionless, flows through the eye.

Night Magic

Mind empty, night-wind empty.

What you look for

Was never lost: it’s here.

No point talking, no use chasing.

No place for those machines

On empty streets.

Nothing outside, nothing inside.

There’s really nothing

To be grasped.

Nothing to be practised, known.

Nothing to be done,

Nowhere to go.

Mind empty, night-wind empty.

Just a perfect

Movement of the trees.

Not Our Place

All gone where? Years

Of power and violence,

All gone under. Nature

Survives, lovely Earth.

Calm mountains stretch

Through the sky, mind

Settles. Mad nations,

Elsewhere, mortal cries.

You need to hover at

The edge of conscience,

You need to float in

The un-carved space.

No one can carry

The weight of human

Suffering. No one

Can impose a purpose.

One species scrabbling

To dominate the planet,

Subjugating creatures,

Withholding life-rights,

Will achieve nothing.

Silent mountains rise

Through the sky. Deep

Woods, leaves flowing.


Old fruit trees in the abandoned meadows.

No one round here working. Fields silent,

Old clapboard houses glow in mellow light.

All the way round, the soft mountain slopes.

Still space. Quiet people. Little competition,

The sense of settlement, rooted tribes, trees.

Always there have been the peaceful places.

We have it in us to be free of every violence,

Of the body and the mind. We have it in us.

Though this place, and this metaphor, will fail,

Though there is no sanctuary from depredation,

Calm is not hatred, benevolence no destruction.

The endless agony of confrontation, of desire,

The eternal round of guilt, regret and craving,

Evaporates in this silence. Inanimate Nature

Reclaims, free of us, the rough deserted orchards:

Vanishing peoples, old tongues, peculiar ways,

Old clapboard houses fading through the twilight.

Old-Time Sages

Old-time sages abandoning study

At a single word, in a single moment,

Rested in silence, spontaneity.

Neither selfless nor selfish,

Neither this nor that, free

Of temples, scriptures, practice,

Old-time sages sitting far off in the hills,

Living, peaceful in the mountains,

Inside, outside, life-events, the dharma,

Spoke not a word. Nothing gained.

Journeying back to primal being,

Entering the realm of the creatures,

Old sages voiceless under pine trees

Left no teaching, spoke no wisdom,

Rested in non-action, spontaneity.

Logic, Compassion

Suffering is inherent in the creature,

Pain, regret, transience.

The animate would return

To the inanimate,

Cease clinging. All return to Nature.

Sun softly shining over Earth,

Autumn light on the leaf-mould,

The wind blowing on the mountain,

From the blue:

Ours, this logic, this compassion.

Suffering is inherent in the creature,

Not inherent in the world outside.

Silent light cascades,

Beyond the mind,

There is no suffering in the universe.

Power Failure

Pre-dawn light on the creek,

Pallid water.

Glistening clusters

Of pine-needles stir,

Over the fallen trunks

That block the way.

Without tools and furs

No one lived here.

Cunning and co-operation

Led us outwards,

Our dispersal

From the African savannahs,

Until we competed for the planet

With every life-form,

Exploited every kind of matter,

Black oil pumping,

Shale fracturing,

Machines above the asphalt,

While salvation lies in not-doing,

All in intentionless action,

Compassion devoid of interference,

Free giving

Without competition,

The sharing where we began.

Broad light flowing in the creek,

Over the shining, singing land,

Where is our power?

While the universe,

Without purpose,

Goes on doing what it does.

Among Dark Leaves

Silent illumination, mo-chao,

The moon glows in the water.

Calm, at night, among dark leaves,

I look to catch the stars moving.

In sitting, just sit: in being, just be,

Like the boulder in the stream.

Un-carved, at rest, in black flow,

Here, without knowledge or intent.

Don’t name the lights in the sky.

Motiveless action is the secret.

Mountain peaks in the storm,

Poke through the jagged cloud.

You need to wake from morality,

Free the mind from convention.

The inanimate adheres to no virtue

The mindless feels no empathy.

Stars are far off, in the deep sky,

Leaves are stirring in the chill air.

What point is there in the universe?

Freedom is the absence of desire.


New planets orbiting their stars

Make no difference.

Though we are likely not alone,

Mind is mind.

It can’t invent purpose

For what is without intent.

Hail to the invisible companions,

Slowly circling.

Though we may likely never meet,

Mind is mind,

And thoughtless process rests

In deepest values.

Some blue smudge in the blurred image,

Might be us,

Silent in the distant mirror.

But mind is mind,

With nothing to grasp in the void,

Nothing to gain.

No Transmission

One foot in front of another,

We go.

Through the thousand centuries,

We go.

Tools and skills,

Are what we learn,

And deep process

Of the universe.

Learn: the Void has

No possessions,

Nothing to be gained

From emptiness.

Perfect silence

Still the best.

Look, I pass

Nothing on.

After this

I’ll relax in stillness.

It’s your mind

That goes on working.

The Guarantee

When we ask: ‘Why

Something and not Nothing?’

The ‘why’ conducts a complex meaning:

Nothing, it implies, was a real alternative,

The Something a pure anomaly.

There’s a yearning for design of the un-designed,

A direct communication of the strangeness,

How Being feels so very odd.

Mountains loom, the water chills,

The trees feel solid, alien.

Objects we imbue with personalities,

And endlessly anthropomorphise nature.

Or we grant intent to the intentionless,

Desiring to be part, to be needed,

Would be liked, even loved by the inanimate,

Though we barely manage love with people.

But was Nothing ever a real alternative,

Or that void a physical possibility?

Why should this strange world not be what always is,

The only meaning its peculiar existence?

No purpose can inhere in the purposeless,

Other than the purposes of creatures,

And the purposes we design into machines,

Where in time we’ll meld with the inorganic.

You must understand the beauty

In the absence of design,

It’s that absence that guarantees our freedom.

Gazing At The Pattern

Even the ‘selection’ in natural selection,

Is too anthropomorphic for me.

Nothing ‘selects’, there is no active verb,

There are pressures, populations, there are outcomes.

What we see as the sieving of life-forms,

What we capture in equations,

Is a sequence of events, devoid of greater plan,

Resulting in a pattern of survival.

Science too is plagued by language,

The inappropriate embedding of intention,

Through verbs that go implying a subject,

When all we really have is the object.

Even the ‘selection’ in natural selection,

Is too anthropomorphic for me.

The real issue being whether we’re unique

Or whether mind emerges everywhere.

Still Clinging

In the gorges, in the hills, autumn light

Slanting softly through the pines.

The mountain peaks have no awareness,

The wind has no identity.

In the woods, in ravines, dark streams

Show white against half-buried stones.

What’s the use of all this craving?

There’s no purpose in the cliffs, in the snow.

Boulders bedded in the grass, white clouds

Moving slowly in the sky.

Shadows deepen, leaves fall,

Mind still clings: to pathless silence.

In the mountains, in the darkness, who knows

The trail, and where is home?

Misted thought in tangled valleys,

Endless flowing endlessly consumed.

Go With The Fixity

The wave lifts and falls every movement.

The Self dies and rises every moment.

The world is a process of energies in flight,

The mind the endless process of awareness.

This thing you call your identity,

Its name and its form, how fragile!

There is no time so nothing lasts in time.

You exist by this continuous creation.

Is the stream the stream, the tree the tree?

Where nothing changes everything is changed.

The mind is enlightened on the mountain,

This still cold moon, the seething flow.

No Fuss

Wu-shi, no fuss and nothing special.

We wash in the stream.

Birds fly noisily from the clump of pines.

Mist hangs in the gorges. I roam round

With nothing to do.

Mountains and trees never get bored.

No intent. Vague thoughts.

Pile wood for a fire.

If you look for the mind it’s not there.

The world is bright. Heart is clear.

If you think there are no

Values without purpose, you’d be wrong.

Wu-shi, no busyness, nothing special.

Stones and spoons,

Cold water, flames. We eat.

The Empty Stream

The intimate essence of the Tao

Is this: there’s nothing to believe.

What is called faith is pointless.

Mind-values flourish of themselves.

There’s no use following the Way.

Seeking the Buddha-self, you lose it.

And when you wake there’s nothing special:

Quiet knowing, an everyday lightness,

This empty stream flowing in the void.

Phantom Grass

The size that belittles.

Vast buildings in the sky.

Giant doors, plate glass,

Space over-engineered.

Here and there a token tree,

Phantom grass.

Ghosts of power

Pass to and fro.

The human is here

On sufferance

You understand.

This is power’s place.

And here the powerful

Bound by endless forces

Go to and fro

Conceiving of control.

This is the essence

Of the civilised.

You must understand

What we have done.

Exchanged a world

For the dream,

Conceded the mind

In ritual,

To conquer the material

Live in peace,

And overcome

Indifferent Nature.

How did we get here?

As ever, gradually.

What we create exists

Beyond our acts of creation.


Eventually you’ll hear your own voice.

Mind goes working of itself.

The rhythms are your native tongue,

Encapsulating a whole culture.

What speaks is from behind the mind.

Like that heavy-blossomed thorn

Now losing itself in a fan of fruit

Spread all round it on the ground.

You can be casual about it, creation,

But it’s the inner complex moving,

And best if you just open the gate

Let leaves blow across the path.

The hills need no help to be hills.

Clouds needs no assistance to be clouds

Mind needs no effort to be mind.

World needs no purpose to be world.

Let Go

Restless mind driving endless purpose.

Greed, fear, dissatisfaction, curiosity.

Let all that go.

Watch the fog

And cloud

Swirling over summits,

Clumps of pine

In the deep.

In the silence, there’s no need of values.

Morality’s the result of too much action.

Sun-glare after rain.


Sit and contemplate

The brightness.

Jagged ridges,

Black wet stone.

The universe is neither kind nor harsh,

Beneficent nor hostile, simply mindless.

Scrambling up the trail,


Confusion over, see

Beyond the trees

One whole mountain,

Floating weightless.

Not Natural

In us sincerity, kindness, affection,

Nothing in the rocks and trees.

Empty mind, sees so clearly:

Awareness outside design or meaning.

No one can discover it by searching.

No one can hold to it by clinging.

Wishing I were deeper in Nature,

Twice-born to another kind of being,

All the four-thousand year old phantoms,

Gone with the mist in the breeze.

Always In The Realm Of The Spirit

Pale bark, green insect, watching eye,

A kind of natural integrity,

Truth you can touch, our affection for it all,

The living empathy that makes us human.

Yes it’s about spiritual values,

But no, it’s nothing to do with religion.

Mind is always in the realm of the spirit,

The integrative process of awareness.

If you don’t think values arise

Out of the deep core of the creature,

Nothing, I can do or say, will ever

Convince you otherwise.

But look. Pale grass, antelope, clear eye,

The signs of natural perception,

The closest to reality we have, our delight

In it all, the flowing light that is our being.

And all of it about spiritual values,

Freedom from design, devoid of the divine.

Values out of genes and culture: we live

In the irreal realm of spiritual awareness.

That’s what mind is at the highest pitch,

The process out of which values arise,

Caught between the self and the world,

Nothing of value otherwise.

At That Moment

Everything known gone at a stroke,

All the books, all the thinking,

Everything gone sliding away,

Down a snow-slope, in the breeze.

No knowledge to chase after.

No karma to escape,

Every single cloud and stone

Every breath is the way.

Boundless as the empty sky,

It’s around you and inside.

What you can never see or hold,

Always with you, deep and clear.

Silence and it’s there;

Speak it and it’s gone.

Don’t look, and you’ll find it.

The open trail, that’s the way.

Cities far off in quiet air,

Deep gorges, icy lakes.

This empty body is the phantom.

This silence is the dharma.

Empty Shores

Absolutely nothing to aim for,

On the white beach in the rain.

Atlantic stretching far West,

Cloud weighting the horizon.

The world is aimless, mindless air,

Vapour and breeze, a salt-light

Making its delight in the mind,

One pure play of mad fractals.

Green barrels of waves, the roar

Of brine shattering on the shale,

Far out gulls crying out in flight,

Climbing upwards from the spray.

Forms mind would like to enter,

Vanish into their complexity,

Become what the eyes reveal,

Meld with those granite shores.

If we could leave mind behind,

Let self, outside self, be Ocean,

Just as the old-time sages did;

Thought, the white birds passing by.

A Deeper Mood

Late October warmth, and quiet haze,

The leaf-fall, the many fallen leaves.

Bring your values, show what we are:

Do you know love of truth, of beauty?

Which may not be love of humans,

This dark species. Though we try

Not to weary of it all, and this life,

Not to be destroyed by the system.

From the top of these hills, dry fields,

A pair of lakes, and we wonder how

All the stone walls got built, far now

From the perceptions of those lives.

Aimless, empty: the contours of place.

Wandering the wood, soft laughter,

Mind falls with everything that falls,

Delighted by the world un-designed.


No this is not about me, it’s about us.

It’s about the hollow paths of power,

A craving for control, the foolishness;

A way through to what we came from.

If you don’t believe, explain the meaning

Of this universe that never points beyond.

Always complete in movement, aimless

A void that’s full: fullness ever empty.

Not a way back, there’s no way back,

Into those first grounds of our being,

Into those grasslands, the savannahs,

Below the shadows of the silent trees,

And no path forward on this track,

The endless erosion of nature on our

Planet; illusions of industry, courage;

Crushing weight of the Anthropocene.

Curiosity, cunning, co-operation

Can only take a species so far,

Into the dumb competitive deadness,

Into the knowledge ending discussion:

Beyond them love is needed, and a joy

Of depth beyond a cursory enjoyment,

The creative force that brought us here,

That needs now to illuminate this Earth.

And not the toils of religion, but human

Love. And not the joys of unawareness,

But delight in throwing off the centuries,

To return to the locus where we started.

Bring your values here: truth, sensitivity,

And kindness. Learn new sharing, a new

Giving. Only what is shared increases

Of itself. The rest is a bitter dynamic.

It’s not about me, I would fail, you will

Succeed. It’s about the next generations,

Who must first learn to wander aimless

Through this world, in the spirit at least,

And be patient. Since nothing is designed

Unless natural minds design it, first learn

The intentionless, Earth devoid of purpose;

Then question how we got here, and why.

There’s a path forward that is a path back,

To the grasslands and the trees where we

Began. And in every single moment a Way

That can’t be looked-for, but is always there

Inside You.

Black City Echoes

Black city echoing with light.

But side-streets empty still sing

Of other spaces: under-seas,

Moonlit forests,

Silent grasslands.

Night city seems innocuous.

Walking the concrete,

Beside sheets of plate glass,

Phantom buildings

In the sky,

But diminishes the spirit.

The water, wood and grass

Is retrieved by mind

From more

Ancient places.

Western hills gleam bright,

The land quivers,

Under the creeping weight

Of our domination,

Are we done for?

Strip out the poetry,

Are we done for?

Another simple eye-blink

Of the stars,

A passing tremor?

Light is beauty, beauty light.

Leaves shine in the moon.

Clouds collecting,

Breeze stirring,

Black city echoes.

It Doesn’t Come From Nowhere

Most imagery from Nature

From the ‘suchness’.

From the richness

Of intentionless world.

Little from the made,

Most from the given,

Aimless structure,

Meaningless process.

Being clear that function

Is not purpose, a misnomer,

The seed has no intent

To form the plant:

And that form is no

Direction, the wave

Is bounded water

Moving to no plan.

At least that is true

Of the inanimate:

Minds create purpose

From the self-aware,

And bestow meaning,

Imbue time and space

With significance,

Create their worlds.

Still, deep in them,

Deep in the ‘body’,

Is all the imagery,

And force of nature.

Your body’s in your mind.

Your mind is body.

Your eye’s that shadow

Crossing the beach.

Tiny Spaces Are Gigantic

The weight of all the mass of all the cities: swiftly gone.

The mountains, the forests, grasslands, seas: all so frail.

A thousand generations lost and vanished in a dream;

All the billion leaves of autumn: all the empty trails.

The children and the adults, the creatures, and the plants,

All flowing, like a marvellous cascade, into the void.

Like gusts of rain slowly washing down from the clouds.

Like the calls of migrating birds heading through the sky.

Loose, like the liberty of wild wandering streams.

Mindless like the trembling of breaking ocean surf.

Dislocated from the chain of purposed cause and effect.

Unconnected to the reasoning powers, logically bereft.

Standing wordless, seeing mindless, lost in this eternity.

Tiny spaces are gigantic, Nature threads the momentary.

The Trackless Track

Wandering the aimless way: go, following the trackless track,

Sitting under dark pines: gazing as the light shines on the pass.

What is this Tao, this Dharma, to be known?

Passing by the names, not stopping by the forms.

The ridge above is basalt: granite baking in the sun.

Bright wordless minutes, and slow waves of stone.

Climbing over scree-slopes, scrambling blocked gullies,

Penetrate the green gorge, stop to visit with the deer.

Drifting the cloud trail, straying through the gate of grass:

All that worthless hopeless nightmare, Being, left below.

Values In The Grass

My values in the grass, where are your values?

In the shadows, in the subtle play of form,

The swaying blades, the arching threads

Of green: this insect home.

My values in the grass, bowed sincerity,

The slow empathetic movement, all

Together, the kindness of the coolness,

The shifting of the light.

My values in the grass, where are your values?

Beyond the human, far side of being,

Surrounded by a sensitivity, released

From every kind of slavery.

My values in the grass, intentionless.

What harm in stems and shoots, the pastoral?

The best of what we found on the way,

Almost intact, still: a beauty.

Dawn, Bamboo, Freedom

Dawn. Water-drops on the bamboo leaves.

What is it in the mind that goes on

Counting time, feels the dismissal,

Like heavy atoms ticking in the dark,

The soft cool centuries of rain subsiding,

The mind of no age,

Mind floating like a bird in the light?

All the changes buried under dark oak,

Juniper and mountain-pine,

All the green gorges East, West,

Haunts of the creatures, the first peoples,

And no one ever owns the land,

On this passing world without intent,

This lost planet.

Dark-light, water-drops on the thin leaves,

Those marvellous globes, deep mirrors,

Snow bows their platforms, wind stirs

Every sphere of the shining mind,

Like surfaces of far gleaming sky,

Where over the mountain’s edge

Freedom slides on silent wings.


The clinging is the longing,

The desire goes on forever

And for the whole mind

Not simply the body.

Ache. It’s the pain

Of its transience,

It’s the beauty

Of the un-ownable.

The grasping is the failure

To let go. The wish

Goes on forever, moving

In the mind which is body.

Then gone! The sudden flare,

In the blind moment,

A dolphin arced

From impossible seas.

Sudden horizon opened,

The gasp of relief, release,

Freeing of the body

And the mind,

Before the swift fall back

Into deep water,

The grey-silver arch,

The glittering spray.

Simple Firelight

It’s not the heaviness of thought that impresses,

It’s the lightness,

Not the density.

It’s not the scope of reference that compels us,

It’s the feeling,

The human feeling.

The slightest architecture is the most welcoming,

The quietest mind,

Moving on the darkness.

Though we love the drama and the interplay,

The rain and thunder,

It’s silent flames,

And peaceful trees, barely stirring in a landscape,

That sink deepest,


Forces Inside

Night-time city, a white glitter of bars,

Excitement on the edge of darkness.

Each light the invite to the threshold:

Music, perfume, beauty are the goddess.

Everything that came from the desert

Has confused the simple human mind,

The veils of the galaxies that glisten,

The dangerous, shifting sands of time,

While a clear heart lives in the grass,

In that first free season of the spirit,

Moves with the fast-running stream,

Bathing mind and body in the flow.

Night-time city, the seductions of power:

Where souls are sold, we become unequal,

Things shining in each other’s perception,

Objects greed manipulates, deep longings.

Night-time webs of light cross continents,

Thread the globe down there, other nets

Are cast about our meanings of the real,

Unseen, the dark divisors, such beauty,

That alien beauty of the made not given.

All things detached from value may entice,

Leave us staring at each other, wondering,

What future for this night-time, sighing land?

Plenty Of Time

This: a world now that blocks the heart.

Impermanent selves live phantom lives,

In the dance that no one proclaimed.

No emotions in tranquility are enough

For this deep dark: pure jets and gasps

Of love like dying fires.

Almost the granite peaks inadequate,

Floating over scented grassy hills,

Rivers, rock and birdcalls.

Dukkha has a name, and anyita,

Maya and trishna have names,

That’s frustration, pain, transience.

The nameless is the silence of trees,

Almost, the watery glade gone still,

Almost, the old unspoken nature.

Too much clinging, and less sharing,

Will undo us, the ice age

And the truth will undo us.

Harder now to take it easy, to deny

The failings on the planet,

The actions gone beyond control.

Lovely, how the squirrel still stirs

Through the litter on the wood’s floor,

The kestrel diligently hovers:

All this darkness fades, will melt,

Beyond us; Earth not waiting,

But enduring, blue till dawn.

Little Knots

From vibrations underneath the universe,

From all the collapsing quantum wave-forms,

Little knots of energy,

We appear.

I dream about my life, your life, what we were:

Skeins of strange weirdness in deep space,

The irrationalities of emotion,

Human fate.

Rebirth is the fall from moment to moment,

The self-reincarnation of our life in time.

And not fresh lives

We’ll not know.

Purposed action is the karma, pointless

Except to evoke the being of the mind,

Preserve and propagate the body,

Such our world.

So much futile grasping of each other,

So much clinging to what justifies the self,

Careless of each,

We call it love.

From the tremors underneath the universe,

From the deep-entangled dance of almost-being,

Little knots of space-time,

We appear.

Nature Keeps Writing On The Rock-Face

Now we’re puzzled what to say,

Everyone writes poetry,

Or a novel. Everyone publishes

Everything, everywhere, wildly.

No one here carves or paints

On the rock-face, in scarlet ink,

Or black on silk banners waving

Like cloud-kites in the wind,

But above the domes and spires

Of former ages, planes in the sky

Write their message in the air:

Every waste to everyone, slowly.

Now it’s a mystery what’s

Left to say, everyone talks

And no one listens. Everyone hears

Their own voice, is it weeping?

But sometimes silently we stop,

And Nature is there in the eye,

Ceaselessly writing energies

Over the un-purposed quiet.

Non-meanings from which

We try to gather meanings,

Not Correlatives, just cries

Of being, unintended cries.

Don’t Believe

Simply don’t believe. Start there.

Not the fancy rites and rituals,

Nor the primitive confusion,

Despite the warming glow.

No art meant to reassure,

Tragedy, an easy purgation,

Romance, a kind of promise,

Fairy stories everywhere.

Here the snowy stream is life,

The trail a dust of whiteness,

Needles and green bamboo

Powdered over, all still.

Mountains smoking cloud,

Farms in remote valleys,

Rooks soaring, hawk high,

Banks of stone and shale.

Inside you the delicate heart,

Calm at last. Your role is here,

Being nothing, no more turnings,

A long, a slow space of bliss.

No Ought In Nature

No ought in Nature, so no values.

We assert them, inextricably

Linked to purpose, action,

To non-intervention, attitude.

We make them, we are them:

Love, the desire for, delight

In, the Other; all the complex

Intimacy of deep relationship;

Truth, the desire for control,

Understanding, knowledge

Of the how, the way to make

Things work, clear assurance;

Beauty, the delight in form,

That echoes realities of being,

The lines of creation, the light

Falling there into inner spaces.

We balance them, and that’s the art

Of living, tempering the stresses,

Moving towards whatever builds,

Turning from whatever destroys.

Buddha is the problem, but not

The solution. Zen the bolt

Of awakening from the dream,

But not our future. It’s Being;

All things inanimate alive for

Us. Every glittering leaf,

Ancient forests, dark cities,

Strange textures of the universe;

All things animate alive in

Us. Every movement, tremor

Of the creature, every cry,

All that’s living, and that dies.

Lost Empires

No explaining what comes to mind,

Not random, but stray;

Working of the unconscious

Outside power;

Space where we create,

Like the artisans of what lasts,

With their kilns, wheels, hands.

We subdue all that with reason,

Settle for order, its displays;

Playing to the conscious

Sense of power;

Space where we abdicate

Our humanity, and bury

Their pots and bowls underground.

Beautiful Freedom, Shining Hills

Beautiful freedom,

Shining hills,

Torrents of rock,

Bowing trees.

Affection is the silent

Heart, that’s

Mind and body –

In love, with this world.

Deeply we touch

Each other,

Face to face

Species to species,

Our desire

Sweet longing

To be one

With all this Earth.

Sincerity is the silent

Mind: that’s inner process,


To the truth of things.

Honestly we face

Each other,

Spirit to spirit

Skin to skin.

Beautiful freedom,

Shining hills,

Ramparts of rock,

Blowing trees.

World Of Forces

Venus in the dawn.

Despite attachment

We detach,

Driven, by those unconscious forces.

Under the paved-over bridge

The old river,

Not choosing its path

Trickles downwards.

Groves of trees

And stone walls

In the sky: it all breaks,

Melts, scatters.

What we think we purpose

Is not solid,

All these deep emotions

Breaking free.

And we think Reason

Controls this world

Of our unreason!

World of forces. Morning light.

A Concert

Examining the form of your face in the silence,

As one examines a painting

Or a landscape,

In the uncertainty of detail,

In the confusion of the light,

Is aura and music of the spirit,

As we hear through the paint

Where the musicians

Blow and pluck there silently,

Inside the layers of pure colour.

Or as we realise in the landscape,

A breeze moving in the distance,

Across the bluish void,

Expressing what, who knows,

But scraping every nerve.

We Were There, Wherever There Was

Bleached profusion of may-thorn and dog-rose

Flowered all along the high green hedge

On our footpath to the sea.

There the white chalk cliffs stood unreal,

Eroded flanks

Of sheep-like flocks enduring.

We were in the Tao, peripheral vision

Was where the mind resided walking,

The waves beyond the edge.

Blurred, dim, indistinct our bodies,

Memory fails them,

But the white-thorn, the may; the dog-roses

Sweeter than time, echo in that space,

Like snow of stars, snow of cloud,

All along our footpath to the sea.


Like random rags the brown leaves fall,

And block the path.

Should I sweep them?

Delight is there in incoherent beauty,

Foam of form,

Discarded news-sheets of another year.

Curious how each little pile, each leaf,

Rising from

The seascape of the light evokes emotion.

Shelley was right, the hectic multitudes

Are too like us

For comfort, too perishable to be left.

Earth In Her Elements

Today an iceberg the size of New York

Forms in Antarctica,

A deep crack working away

At the base of the world.

Lines of fire flow from a volcano

In Chile, sighs

Of the belching globe, ash

Settles on the roads.

In Thailand the people live

In water, pole around in water,

Learn the fear of flood,

And not its peacefulness.

From the satellite a hurricane coils,

Its snowy Catherine wheel

In spinning speeded motion

Over the silent screen.

Earth in her elements.

Don’t Believe

The confusions all confusions of action. Greed and fear,

In the cunning mind will not be overcome by power,

Demonstrations, politics, polemics, action, war.

We practised all this in the grasslands and the forests,

By the blue lakes in the rifts, in the deep caves in the ice,

All that led to these systems of the brain, imagined error.

Yet mind is free. The nightmare is irreal, and no control,

Never a hope of controlling all this intricacy of events:

Still we’ve escaped religion, the Victorian age of reason.

The Twentieth Century surely taught us the blind unreason,

Only the individual can ever channel clear, affirming values:

Only the single self can be sincere, true, empathetic, kind.

No hopelessness and no despair, though suffering is endemic

In the mind, regardless of all riches, poverty, abuse of flesh,

Despite the tricks of rapacious nations, world organisation,

Might of trade, carving of the Earth, gone hells and heavens.

The individual life intrinsic is still free. Meditate, love, walk

The pathways of the planet: make your way across the void.

Don’t act; don’t follow; don’t believe.

All The Tall Trees

All the tall trees dying in Alaska, whitebark in Montana;

Mountain pine beetle taking down ten billion conifers

Over the watersheds, the ecosystems, Russia, Canada;

Its life-cycle speeding with the world’s slow warming.

Old lodgepole pines prime targets, jack pines, spruce,

The high alpine forests: no useful way to counter that,

No good interference. Better the wildfires we prevent

Sitting in lookouts, better the deep burn and the renewal,

Wild Nature, than explosive, chemical, electrical attack,

Than the clear-cuts, deep erosion, life-damage. Logging

Won’t do. Down chainsaws, leave the whole space alone,

Watch it go: non-action better and another thousand years.

The grass succeeds. The juniper survives. But no way back.

Small insect lever, leveraging the planet, buzz of all forces

Slight, half-visible, outside our control, our power to see

The outcome of a stone tossed in the pool, its outer wave.


Looking at all those small unknown flowers

Fragments of piercing colour

Scattered over two acres of fragrant grass

Gazing at indistinct stars in the sky

White splinters of light

Signals out of meaningless fires long gone

Singing deep in the spirit with the branches

Of a blown mass of woodland

Twisted by high winds below the pass,

All of it better nameless.

All the forms.

On High Hills

Seven thousand feet beyond humanity,

Only a thin layer of transparent gas

Between the phantom and the galaxy.

Moon on bare rock. Black breeze in the pine.

A solitary cloud swirls through the blue.

All the heart and mind filled with stars.

Who will know that we have come and gone,

On the unseen planet in voiceless space,

Tracing its dark ellipse, free of our presence?

Something Rises

Enough if we survive the great disaster,

Singing in the light on the other side,

Live through the wreckage of the heart,

As I survive, and you, and every spirit,

Though damaged by the loss of freshness,

Of carolling blackbird silhouetted high,

Calling to the twilight age of the Earth,

With that primal melody that cuts the sky.

Enough if we survive.

Lake of Cloud, Tiny Peaks

Do what you like you manifest the Way.

Through the gate of grass on the old trail,

See the endless summits jut from cloud.

Millions of lifetimes black rock buried.

All illusion in this empty body, all real,

Here’s nothing solid: our intrinsic nature.

But your affections never less than true.

And beauty is a construct of the mind.

Everything is in Nirvana from the start,

The everyday mind, just being, is the Tao.

Do as you wish you manifest the Way.

Yet still the end of all your decisions,

Flowing air, deer on the mountain slope,

And fawn among the trees, is Nature!

Our simply leaving everything alone

Proves not as simple as it might appear.


A star, a moon opposite, a planet, in the blue.

Half-moon, half cylinder-top; a star, our sun;

A planet, this Earth clothed in oak and pine.

Behind the blue the universe hides. Behind,

The blue. Behind the blue is black and light,

If there had been no night we’d never know?

A star, bright as one thousand, in the blue.

A moon, pale, Shelley’s gazer in weariness,

The planet, icy, brown, hard as dumb iron.

Winter’s triad in the mind: our shining star,

Eye-scorching fire; the pale sister opposite;

This ground under our feet: this triple void.

Being Shadow, Watching Shadow

The people too are ghosts, and some we knew,

Phantoms in thought, of thought, dream bodies,

Our flesh is real, but the inhabiting mind irreal,

Abstractions sliding silently through pure form,

In a world that has never been and never shall be;

No use our claiming that process of flesh is mind,

We know mind still floats far out beyond the flesh,

As a strange phenomenon of the networked tissue,

In which are conjured the distant scenes, not quite,

Transformed and incorrect as memory makes them,

But beautiful if we can free them of ancient terrors,

Shame, remorse, pain, the rehearsed awkwardness,

Free them to billow out, forms, in another daylight,

Where the weight of the earth becomes its lightness,

And its language is ours because it speaks us rawly,

In the fierce fire we are, in our watery inner spaces,

In our airy flights of falsehood, our earthen hearing,

In everything we are not, but so conceive ourselves,

Phantoms in the light, shadows across the darkness,

There on the fern, there on the silent wall, once more,

There, as the afternoon slides, white evening glistens.

‘They Shall Be One’

In our disorder we learnt there is a world of order,

Which is chaos, sea of unintended consequences,

Obeying rules which are born out of form itself,

As placing stick by stick makes two sticks whether

You wish it differently or not, as shapes connect.

Beyond ourselves we feel the darkness of an order

Without reference to anything within our feeling,

Not the divine, but the absence of design, the cool

Unintentional nature of the universe glowing there,

In a thousand colours of which colour knows nothing.

It is an unimagined order, perhaps beyond imagination,

Which is only a model of meaning traversing the mind,

And this perhaps beyond model, beyond our metaphor.

Like the mysterious sound of the bird outside, behind

The curtain, no bird we knew but the liquid sound itself,

Which is forced to be its own metaphor: what is there

To offer for a singing bird but the song itself: the fire

Of the galaxies down to the deepest vibration of space,

The obscure presence of what is, dissolving round us,

Until we are one with the man, the woman, in the wind.

Prayer Has Nothing To Do With Religion

Dissolve us in light, and light is Tao,

The universal single many flow,

No time, all space, the change

Of this whole into whole

That nothing less can grasp.

Weigh us with light, weigh us,

There is nothing into which

We look, there is no word:

A language without words

That can never be spoken.

Bury us in light, inter us

Among galaxies, in fires

Of non-earthly presence,

Clasp us, silently,

In our non-being.

Frost At Midnight

Reading Frost, at midnight. There’s a dark presence

Underneath an interaction with the world, a private

Withdrawal into being, into his escape, communing

With a sweet inwardness and isolation. Harsh verse

Amongst the gentleness the desire for true response.

There is an ice and cold, the creaking branches yaw

In the night-winds, time is slowly creeping over all,

And the man himself, where is the man himself, far

From, behind, the surface of the poem, infinities deep.

There the tree tosses the wrong side of the glass, there

Is the fate of insect worlds, the maze of our vanishings

Into self, into wood and fern, into sky and stars, marsh

And memory, and what we look for, grail in the stream,

Meaning in what is gone, what is done, what the strong

Know of this world they penetrate with their dreaming.

Reading ‘Frost at Midnight’. A second solitude, second

Calmness, silentness. And matter flickering in the light

Quivers till it almost attains the boundary, is there one,

Between the living and the lacking life, where stone is

Tree, and the tiny pebble in the fountain jet trembles in

Eternal motion, whirled in the vortices above pale sand,

And the solitary leaf on the branch dances to wind-dark

Rhythm. ‘Everywhere’, cries Coleridge, ‘echo or mirror.’

We interpret. We force the sympathies, companionship

Of natural forms in natural space, the other than human

That shares our time and space, strange in its otherness.

Those are our voices in the darkness calling, hiss, sigh,

And not its meaning, ours. Here is the poet of the subtler

State, moving beyond his age, not understood, belittled,

As if to provide a mind to the future is not truth enough.

Reading. Frost at midnight glazes the moon-white fields,

And the body quietens to the intellect’s grave music, ice

In this atmosphere, blue mist on the near slope, a tremor

Of the universe passing through the individual life, wild

In its summons: mind’s civilisation seems a sham, time

Pours through it as if it were some fragile fluttering form

Rage-filled in its nakedness, soft as the air, bitter as cold,

One of those naked spirits on the heights, out on the moor,

Battering themselves against being, fate, each other, lost

And found again in the intensity of what this living makes

Of the creature and the cry. This what it gives, momentary

Calm, an abstruse meditative deep full of glittering snakes

And visionary dreams, a flickering of the dumb inanimate,

Tick of the twig in its mindless restlessness, its non-intent.

This is our world, of no design: we have given it our love.

Index Of First Lines