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Too Many Names

by Pablo Neruda

Mondays are meshed with Tuesdays
and the week with the whole year.
Time cannot be cut
with your weary scissors,
and all the names of the day
are washed out by the waters of night.

No one can claim the name of Pedro,
nobody is Rosa or Maria,
all of us are dust or sand,
all of us are rain under rain.
They have spoken to me of Venezuelas,
of Chiles and of Paraguays;
I have no idea what they are saying.
I know only the skin of the earth
and I know it is without a name.

When I lived amongst the roots
they pleased me more than flowers did,
and when I spoke to a stone
it rang like a bell.

It is so long, the spring
which goes on all winter.
Time lost its shoes.
A year is four centuries.

When I sleep every night,
what am I called or not called?
And when I wake, who am I
if I was not while I slept?

This means to say that scarcely
have we landed into life
than we come as if new-born;
let us not fill our mouths
with so many faltering names,
with so many sad formalities,
with so many pompous letters,
with so much of yours and mine,
with so much of signing of papers.

I have a mind to confuse things,
unite them, bring them to birth,
mix them up, undress them,
until the light of the world
has the oneness of the ocean,
a generous, vast wholeness,
a crepitant fragrance.

Source: http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/Poets/N/NerudaPablo/TooManyNames/index.html– from Neruda: Selected Poems, by Pablo Neruda / Translated by Anthony Kerrigan

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stop

The sun shines over all life without distinction
The water flows with no attempt at prejudice
The earth holds us all without labels
The tree gives fruit and shade without judgement
The breath flows from one to another giving life to all
The sky covers us with the umbrella of infinite space
Rich or poor, dark or light, man or woman
No East, West, North, or South
Seeing no country or religion
Just Being
Why let the mind divide what Nature does not

Poem: Meena Modi

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/static/uploads/photo/2016/02/01/21/53/weapons-1174491_960_720.jpg

In meditation we experience oneness. Nothing separates us from life, all beings.Can we carry that inner awareness into our outer world, our daily lives? If the inner light cannot shine on thoughts and behaviors that arise from fears and insecurities, conditioned thinking, then one must question the quality and motivation of meditation. Fears arise from lack of understanding. They imprison and painfully dissect minds, people, and communities. This poem from the March 27, 2013,  blog post is copied to renew awareness in this polarized world.

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Let’s be the same wound if we must bleed.

Let’s fight side by side, even if the enemy

is ourselves: I am yours, you are mine.

 

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When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

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To Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love
All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love
Is God, our Father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love
Is man, His child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity and Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.

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Indian men, specifically coronary patients, responded well to Raga Desi Todi (Hindustani classical music), in a study measuring psychophysiological reactions to music at the Banares Hindu University, Varanasi, India. The men listened to the slow-paced, taped raga played on the flute for 30 minutes a day for 20 days. Healthy controls did the same.

Music’s historic role in healing, cultural and religious rituals, spiritual traditions, yoga (kirtan is devotional chanting, often of mantras), nada yoga (includes Indian classical music), has led researchers and neuroscientists to explore ways in which music can improve health and a sense of well-being. The study concluded that

1. music significantly lowered both systolic and diastolic and heart  blood pressure and heart rate in the coronary patients

2. music had no significant effect on these measures in the control group

3. both groups reported reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression; and an enhancement in life satisfaction, hope, optimism, and meaning in life

Source: “Psychophysiological reactions to music in male coronary patients and healthy controls”, Psychology of Music, June 2014  http://pom.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/06/05/0305735614536754.abstract

Several other studies have found that listening to music, playing music, increases positive emotions by stimulating parts of the brain that produce dopamine (makes us feel good). In fact, almost all brain centers light up. Levels of cortisol, associated with anxiety and stress, are lowered.

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Following through on the previous post, music (not just kirtan) can have a profound role in some diseases like Alzheimer’s  with the accompanying memory loss and dementia. Here is the lead to a scientific documentary:

Slowly, inevitably, Alzheimer’s disease robs a person of profound memories, like the names and faces of loved ones. Right now, there’s no cure. But one researcher thinks he may have found a way to help mitigate the effects of the disease—using music. Listen in to learn how.

Check out this moving and inspiring PBS documentary http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/alzheimers-music-au.html.

 

 

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