Be gracious and raise yourself up

I chose Psalm 57 as the next verse in our sequence because it deepens the previous “Koan of You.” There is a tension between the powerfully gentle first line—“Be gracious, Be gracious, Be gracious” and the fierce voice speaking in response—“Raise yourself up and blaze out over all the body of the earth!”. There is so much to be said and learnt by moving through this poem line-by-line, additionally I offer another voice—that of the 14th century Tibetan sage Longchenpa in his “You are the Eyes of the World”. In this companion piece, the speaker takes the first-person voice (“Me”) and yet seems to be calling out to and from the same space as the Psalm.

Read them several times together. Enter the conversation through your body. Copy each by hand—write them out—and feel the echo of this evolving koan. Who is “You?” Who is “Me?” How do these two faces of the “One” reveal themselves?

In the Psalm we hear about taking refuge, a confident kindness, deep love, the temptations of fear and chaos, the unwavering movement of karma, the powerful resolve of “live fully”, and the return to the center through practice. Be gracious and blaze out! What a beautiful and complicated space this opens.

In Longchenpa’s words, we are reminded that we are this infinite space, that inconceivable heart and mind, the essential functioning of “Me” and “You” in human form. Remember who you are! Shine forth, raise up, blaze out, and sing.

Psalm 57

Norman Fischer translation

Be gracious, Be gracious, Be gracious
For my soul flies out to your protection
Flies up to the refuge of your wings
Until this anguish passes

I call on you, my guide
Confident of your kindness to me
You who swirls out from the center
And penetrates me with your love
Thought the one who wants to swallow me up
Utters curses and accusations
Your faithfulness will still them all

I am in the company of lions by day
At night I lie down in flames
Their teeth are spears and arrows
Their tongues a sharpened blade

Raise yourself up and blaze out over all the body of earth!

They prepared a net to ensnare my foot—
I was almost caught
They dug a pit for me—
But they fell into it

My heart is firm, my heart is firm, my heart is firm
I sing it, I cant it, I pluck it on the lyre
Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and psaltry!
I will wake up the dawn with my song!
I will go our among the people with my chanting!
I will rouse the nations with my plating!

For your kindness swirls about the entire center
And your truth reaches as far as the empty sky.

Raise yourself up and blaze out over all the body of earth!

You Are the Eyes of the World

Longchenpa (1308–1364)

All that is has me—universal creativity, pure and total presence—as its root.
How things appear is my being.
How things arise is my manifestation.
Sounds and words heard are my messages expressed in sounds and words.
All the capacities, forms, and pristine awareness of the buddhas;
The bodies of sentient beings, their habituations, and so forth;
All environments and the inhabitants, life forms, and experiences;
are the primordial state of pure and total presence.

Without understanding me, the creativity of the universe,
But understanding phenomena that I manifest,
You perceive everything dualistically due to your attachment to longing.
Impermanent, apparitional things will fade away.
they are aimless, like a blind man.

All that is experienced and
Your own mind are the unique primordial reality.
They cannot be conceptualized according to cause and effect systems of thought.
Investigate your mind’s real nature
So that your pure and total presence will actually shine forth.

Ptown Sunset

4 thoughts on “Be gracious and raise yourself up

  1. Thank you dear Flint
    For the heart and wisdom that comes forth through you and this 2 poems.
    I feel you and feel them
    tears arise a mix of owe, gratitude and grief at noticing the contraction made out of fear and ancient habits pulling away now and then …
    I vow to stay close to the prescripcion

    “Investigate your mind’s real nature
    So that your pure and total presence will actually shine forth.”

    1. It warms my heart to hear from you, dear Silvia. I am beginning a week-long retreat this evening here in Texas and will be thinking of you and sitting with you. Lots of love!

  2. This is so brilliantly juxtaposed I’ll be printing it out and re reading it over and over. Hoping to come
    Back into your orbit . Going to Maui Jan 20th… are you going to be in that part of the world?

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