& MANY RIVERS & MANY RIVERSDAVID WHYTEDAVID WHYTEThe Year AheadThe Year Ahead 2022 - 2023 2022 - 2023
Bodi Hallett, Sattva Photo
Letter from the HouseWanting a rich, artistic soul life, without the dark, warming intelligence of real silence and the beautiful spaciousness that arises from that si-lence, is like expecting an egg without the brooding heat of the mother hen.There is a way of being in the world that is sparkling, spacious, generous, and life giving; both for ourselves and for others. There is a way of being in the world that feels besieged, set upon, defensive and life-sapping, both for ourselves and for those who come into contact with us. The astonishing fact is that both the above lives can be lived under exact-ly the same circumstances. Two people in almost exactly the same con-text can have a radically different future ahead of them depending on the the mind that shapes that future, and perhaps more accurately, the depth of silence that cradles the mind that shapes a future world. The dening difference for those who have escaped the sense of imprisonment and besiegement is a close-in physical relationship with a powerfully qui-et and attentive sense of presence. A practice of embracing quiet in our lives teaches us that silence dwells in our bodies not as passive absence but as a rich, about to be understood harvest of insight and possibility. Above all, attentive bodily silence allows us to perceive lives other than our own, and therefore to have compassion and understanding for them, including all the beautifully nonhuman inhabitants of our world. Without attentive silence, the ability to drop below the everyday horizon of false goals is desperately difcult. This is one of the great beckoning milestones of deepening self knowledge: understanding where we have lost touch or condence in the way we want to hold the foundational conversation of existence. Life-sapping goals can almost always beDecember 2022HIDDEN REWARDS
dened as false because they are usually other people’s priorities that in our loss of condence we have substituted and mistaken for our own.One of the rst things we discover in silence is that the mind, left to its defensive evolutionary self, is a strange thing. Desperate to ensure our survival while making sure we are more knowledgable, more intelligent, more successful and better looking than the next person. We can see the dark eccentricity and strange turns the unsettled, besieged mind takes in the way it attacks others: writ large in a vengeful Trump or a Putin; its desperate attempts for total control in a Xi Jinping or a Kim Jong-un. But we don’t have to go any further than our own thoughts in the kitchen on a given morning to see the way the mind, without a true anchorage in silent presence, not only actively seeks the wrong rewards and the wrong goals but manufactures them itself, often defensively, out of whole cloth.Real rewards, rewards that are actually good for us, are almost always, by denition, hidden rewards. They are below the horizon of our initial perception in trying to discern them. They are beyond the reach of the surface competitive mind. In both the Zen tradition and the Christian tradition this dynamic is described as ‘The Pearl of Great Price’. And like a pearl, they are hidden to begin with, beneath the tides that ow within us. The ancient understanding is that what you really desire is too much for you. If your surface strategic mind was told what you actually wanted, it would be overwhelmed by the gift, sense its own demise in the hid-den reward and run a thousand miles in the opposite direction. There-fore, silence puts an arm around us and unburdens us, tells us that if we did have an easy answer, it would be the wrong answer, if we did know from the outset where we should go and what we should do, it would be the wrong direction and the wrong action. The true reward can only be made known in its own time, and can only come to proper fruition in a erce kind of attentive silence. The pearl of great price always shines out Letter from the House - continued
from the depths of the unknown, and could not be properly perceived without that enclosing and cradling darkness.What can be easily described has already been lived and therefore offers no revelation or surprise. The need for revelation and surprise should not be confused with the hunt for unending novelty - to the attentive silent mind, what is surprising and life-giving can come even in repeated ritual: spring is always new and always a revela-tion to the loving gardener, the face of a son or a daughter in the morning, always fresh when we have allowed them to be free of our expectations, to have their own futures un-coerced by our notions of what it means to steer their lives.Whatever we choose in our everyday rewards on the surface, it is not a passive activity: whether it is a relationship that is not good for us, too much unconscious eating, or the constant dopamine hits of the unend-ing computer game, we are shaping our identity, both in what the reward makes of us, but also in training us into habits that are slowly hollowing us out. Given the constant temptations of good-looking bad food, and the eternal entertainment of our screens, the formation of bad habits around tiny unending and ultimately unsatisfying rewards is one of the great challenges of contemporary human life. It can be very difcult to understand the level of debilitation we suffer from our daily procession of minor but unfullling rewards until we real-ize another week, or a year, or a lifetime has passed, and what we intu-ited, what we dreamt of has not even been properly begun, never mind pursued and achieved. Letter from the House - continuedGiven the constant temptations of good-looking bad food, and the eternal entertainment of our screens, the formation of bad habits around tiny unend-ing and ultimately unsatisfying rewards is one of the great challenges of contemporary human life.
The greatest debilitation of all perhaps comes from simply being con-stantly present in the wrong way but absent in all the ways that count. The sense of having missed our tide, because we have become distant from the inner shoreline where real things happen, because in effect, dis-tant from the tide, we became afraid of the tide. Politically and climactically, we live in a world shaped by generations of surface desire. Each of us has a possibility of personally reshaping, deepening and simplifying our inherited desires in this present life, by stopping many of the conversations we hold that are not good for us and have never been good for us, allowing ourselves to drink from a deeper well. That well is the well of what we name, from the surface, silence. Silence is actually an inadequate word for a moving, gifted, seasonal, dynamic birthing and taking away that brings us close to the powerful undercurrents of everyday existence. In regard to gifts and the gifted, it might not be the thought that counts, but rather the tidal depths of silence that bring forth the thought in the rst place.Letter from the House - continued
Above all, be alone with it all,a hiving off, a corner of silenceamidst the noise, refuse to talk,even to yourself, and stay in this placeuntil the current of the storyis strong enough to oat you out.- David Whytefrom ‘COLEMAN’S BED’Gayle Karen Whyte
New from MANY RIVERSOur human essence lies not in arrival,but in being almost there: we are creatureswho are on our way, our journey a seriesof impending anticipated arrivals.–DAVID WHYTEfrom “CLOSE”Recall the way you are all possibilitiesyou can see and how you live bestas an appreciator of horizonswhether you reach them or not.–DAVID WHYTEfrom “MAMEEN”–DAVID WHYTEfrom “SHYNESS”Shyness is the exquisite and vulnerablefrontier between what we think is possibleand what we think we deserve.PURCHASE–DAVID WHYTEfrom “WHAT TO REMEMBER WHEN WAKING”To become humanis to become visiblewhile carryingwhat is hiddenas a gift to others.–DAVID WHYTEfrom “SWEET DARKNESS”You must learn one thing.The world was made to be free in.Give up all the other worldsexcept the one to which you belong.–DAVID WHYTEfrom “EVERYTHING IS WAITING FOR YOU”To f eel abandoned is to denythe intimacy of your surroundings.BOOKMARKS. Two sets of three, ‘birds’ and ‘insects’, with poetry ex-cerpts on the reverse side. Designed by artist Patricia Ackerman. $9.00 per set.
SWEET DARKNESS BROADSIDEavailable on davidwhyte.comCreated by Myrna KeliherExpedition PressOriginal letterpress print11x17 inchesSigned by the authorPURCHASEWhen your eyes are tiredthe world is tired also.When your vision has goneno part of the world can nd you.Time to go into the darkwhere the night has eyesto recognize its own.There you can be sureyou are not beyond love.- David Whytefrom ‘SWEET DARKNESS’
events with DAVID WHYTE“To become deeply silent is not to become still, but to become tidal and seasonal, a coming and going that has its own inimitable, essential character, a story not fully told, like the background of the sea, or the rain falling or the river going on, out of sight, out of our lives.”- David Whytefrom CONSOLATIONSNEW EDITION OF ESSENTIALS from the in-dependent, award-winning publisher Canongate in the United Kingdom.I’m very happy to be deepening my relationship with Canongate with their publication of ‘Essen-tials’. As you can see, it is beautifully designed as a companion volume to their UK edition of ‘Con-solations’. This new edition of Essentials, besides having the latest version of poems, has new po-ems from ‘Still Possible’ as well as a new essay entitled ‘Old’, which looks with some mercy and humour on the experiences awaiting us, or now greeting us, in eldership. Old is a necessary shedding, not only of the need to have a younger, outer athletic body, but the shedding of the way we have understood age itself. - excerpt from new essay, ‘Old’Currently available only at bookstores and online in the UK.LEARN MORE
events with DAVID WHYTEA SINGLE STAR IN THE NIGHT - A Live, Virtual EventDECEMBER 10th - 10am PTASILOMAR, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 7th - 9th, 2023 LEARN MORESAVE THE DATETHREE SUNDAYS SERIESJANUARY 8th, 15th and 22nd, 2023LEARN MORE
DAVID RECOMMENDSIt is always an extraordinary event when someone who once was im-portant in our life, and who unaccountably ‘disappears’ from that life, reappears once again and renews the friendship and the conversation exactly where it was interrupted. It is all the more extraordinary when the friend in question has written a book to say where they have been, what they have done and why they disappeared in the rst place. I highly rec-ommend Henry Shukman’s ‘One Blade of Grass’ for his journey into the world of Zen through many difculties and wild wandering adventures, from childhood on. It is grounding, encouraging, always insightful, and a damn good story all in one. ‘One Blade of Grass.’VIEW ON AMAZONBodi Hallett, Sattva Photo“Something happened that summer. In the swells and cambers of elds that we got to know as well as our own bodies, in the rambling farther and farther from home, in the village shops where we stocked up on supplies, in the gullies and copses, clambering over wooden fences bleached by the sun, splashing through streams, we found ourselves, as people with our own relationship to the land and its creatures.” - from ONE BLADE OF GRASS
2023 WALKING TOURSWEST OF IRELAND - May 6th - 13th, 2023Poetry, Myth & Music for the SoulJoin David and 35 eclectic travelers for a celebration of Ireland’s celt-ic culture, both traditional and emerging, set on Galway Bay in County Clare. The trip is an unforgettable pilgrimage over ancient limestone and windblown shores, gathering at places of special inherited signicance in both Irish history and the Irish religious imagination.LEARN MOREDavid Whyte’s walking tours combine his poetry and philosophy with breathtaking walks, superb meals and an opportunity to meet extraordi-nary people deeply committed to their place in the world. On any given day, you may be introduced to a poet, a farmer, a group of world-class musicians, a passionate scholar or a larger-than-life, Dante-reciting chef. No matter the location, you are invited into a circle of friendship that takes you deep into the local culture.Each morning, after breakfast, David sets the tone for the day with a talk and poetry. This gathering is followed by the day’s activities, including beautiful walks or hikes and delicious, local food. We don’t provide an itinerary, preferring to give participants an experience of awakening into each new day with openness to what may unfold.
ENGLISH LAKE DISTRICT - June 30th - July 7th, 2023Compass Points: Setting Direction for a Future LifeJoin David Whyte in the mountains and vales of his youth, while taking time to understand the next necessary steps of your own life. Hike over the peaks of the English Lake District, where Wordsworth, Coleridge and many others found inspiration among mountains, valleys, spectacular lakes, stone villages and hedgerows. LEARN MOREJAPAN - November 1st - 8th, 2023Walking the Nakasendo TrailJoin David Whyte and Gayle Karen Young Whyte on this mountain and forest trail through the ancient landscapes and villages of central Japan, walking in the footsteps of Japan’s most famous poet: Basho. Our tour be-gins in Kyoto; from there we will travel by train into the mountains. Once on the trail, we will stay at traditional Ryokan Inns, many times bathing in their hot-springs by night and walking through the central Japanese countryside by day, past temples and shrines, remote forest paths and tiny hamlets.LEARN MORE
HORSE IN LANDSCAPEWe know the ery animalityof the purebred horse,its ghostly hide moving like smokeover the green landscape,but must rememberin that wild vulnerabilitya natural power of rest.Primary colors and prime emotionswirl in the coiled ank.Head rearing to the pasture’s expanse.The landscape living in its bodyas the sinewy horse lives in the world.Now, as it turns toward you,head curved to one sideand the wild mane yingabove the distant hoofbeats’incantatory silence,you are asked again—What will you doand what will you sayin the timeswhen you are left aloneto meet, like this,the quiet fury of the world?- David Whytefrom RIVER FLOWBodi Hallett, Sattva Photo