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In every ought and should
there is a dream
Each ought a different
call
to the world
to know a way out
to heed the screams of pain
arising from the earth
and her children
Each should
a fierce assertion
that suffering
need not arise
in the heart or mind
of any being
Life could be this...
Life could be that...
with intention
with consideration

Yet life is messy,
unkempt,
a river polluted with
manufacturing solvents,
candy wrappers,
beer bottles,
sunken rifles,
rust-resistant tanks,
pornographic magazines,
condoms,
needles for drugs,
palm pilots,
lipstick caps,
worn out tires,
rotting muffins,
rusted mufflers,
campaign billboards,
meeting agendas,
styrofoam coffee cups,
"rufies" dissolving,
the sludge of petroleum,
fish heads,
pesticides,
and the excrement
of a billion cows,

Each clearing of the river
brings another "pollutant"
an-other manifestation
of life in search of
LOVE
unclear in the turbulence
of suffering

In every should
there is hope
for a clear, pure river
something we could drink from,
feel nourished by,
bathe in,
clean our wounds

The river cries
our cries,
pollutes our bodies
as we've polluted her body
The river manifests
in forms we've forced upon her
She is resourceful
She is fragile
She is shape-shifting
She reflects us
She is us
Can we see her as whole?
Pollutants and all?
Can we see the shoulds
as voices of
the life of the river
screeching for attention --
Embrace me!
Take care of me!
Keep me safe!

Compassion sprouts in me
from the willingness
to embrace
to care for
to protect
even the pollutants
even the anger
misplaced towards the polluters
even the shoulds
even the thoughts
that name and blame and shame

Far beyond the notions
of polluted and pure
is the consciousness
of all
of these manifestations
arising
in a great dream
of emptiness
Each manifestation
a holographic jewel
in Indra's net
relecting interbeing

~ Erica Hamilton

Mindful Paradise

To live in mindfulness
Is to be in paradise.
Why is this?
To be truly aware of what is
In the present moment
Is to be in the realm of suchness
And its ultimate dimension.
And not lost in images,
Representations,
Reminiscences,
Memory habits
With their feelings of fear,
Anger, blame, bitterness,
And deep sadness.
Please help me toss away
My old dead thoughts.

~ Bill Menza, July 16, 2004

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