A fish cannot drown in water,

A bird does not fall in air.

In the fire of its making,

Gold doesn’t vanish:

The fire brightens.

Each creature God made

Must live in its own true nature;

How could I resist my nature, 

That lives for oneness with God.

                                     ~Mechtild of Magdeburg*


Women in Praise of the Sacred

J Hirshfield

A Meditative Journey with Saldage  BookCover


This work interweaves elements of the author’s own history within a fabric composed of Buddhist philosophies of suffering and Christian ideals of forgiveness, as well as traditional elements of psychology and universal threads of myth.  The result is a rich tapestry of value to anyone seeking a personal and compassionate guide towards self-discovery and recovery from the sources and consequences of human suffering. The practical illustrations of overcoming suffering within this experience make this work a valuable tool for individual women and a significant contribution for the therapeutic environment.

Available through:


Barnes & Noble


Better World Books


Google Books

Author’s Note:

It is my hope that those who journey through A Meditative Journey with Saldage return again and again to the wisdom within the Kalama Sutta. If you find that the words, images, and/or cited quotes trigger any discontent within, please abandon them. If you find that they lead to an easing of discontent, please accept my written thoughts as a gift from me to you.

perception is never purely in the present – it has to draw on experiences of the past; “the remembered present”…detailed memories of how things have previously looked and sounded, and these memories are recalled and mixed with every new perception…every act of perception…is to some degree an act of imagination.*

back way




Oliver Sacks

Listen, listen:

longing and loss.

In the struck bell’s 

recurrent calling,

no moment in which to forget.

                                   ~Izumi Shikibu*


…though it is often stated that animals find symmetry in a mate attractive, humans appear not, in fact, to share such preferences. Even in cases where symmetry is clocked as more healthy, it is still experienced as less attractive.  In fact symmetry in living faces, because it suggests something mechanical and unreal, borders on the uncanny… And, as one might expect, in portraiture of the Enlightenment ‘faces generally are represented more symmetrically than in any other Western style’… ‘That is one of the reasons why this portraiture is as Wilde puts it, “once seen, never remembered.”**



*The Ink Dark Moon

Trans: J. Hirshfield with M. Aratani

**The Master and his Emmissary

Iain McGilchrist


From the earliest, all the Renaissance arts showed a newfound expressiveness, a delicacy of feeling… In the visual arts this was manifest from Giotto onwards in a preoccupation with the expressive powers of the human face in particular… It will be remembered…that during the Renaissance there was a peak in left-facing (right-hemisphere favoring) profiles in portraiture.

Intriguingly, there appears to have been a marked shift, according to James Hall, in the way the left and right sides of the body were viewed at around this time. The traditional view of the left side as, literally, sinister would appear to have softened at the Renaissance, and given way to an intuitive sense of its positive qualities. According to Hall, ‘the superior beauty of the left hand was an important opponent of the courtly love tradition’…As the Renaissance unfolded, the claims of the left side were advanced at the expense of the right; it was seen as the more beautiful side – finer, more gentle, more truthful, more in touch with feeling. The entire left side of the body took on a cast of beauty, truthfulness, and fragility. Given that it was centuries too early for these views to be influenced by knowledge of hemisphere different, it looks like another possible instance of the brain intuitively cognising itself.*


The Master and his Emissary

Iain McGilchrist

autumnofmylife…intentionally, I set my mind upon the engagement of self with the process of reading the words of another with a knowing that I have accepted an invitation to consider an author’s worldview; that is, to place reality upon a shelf or to open a unique window of understanding.

…distraction, from this engagement as I become aware of a shadow presence – a transparent hereness tinted with memories of you. It is as if you emerged from the printed page calling forth shared memories.  I feel you sitting silently beside me. Within this silence, I begin to search for words, sentences that covey meanings and insights that awaken the joy that comes from an easing of longing and I hear myself whisper, “Here, a treasured story of thought that reconnects us, reflects a past time of us together, that validates words, ideas—you—and messages, ‘I have heard you within the sharing of love.  I delight in knowing you.  I wish to thank you for simply being…you are the joy that accompanies a gift in transit to being received.'”

…awareness, the words on the page have faded, I have disengaged myself from the invitation to consider the worldview of another as I entered imagined moments with you.  I miss you.  I miss us.

…accepting that what I yearn for can never be for I’m in the autumn of my life while you, my child, have now entered your summer as your children dance within their spring.  Seasons flow one into another—their circular, repeating patterns defined by an unseen guiding hand—births expectations, hope and trust created from past consistencies.

History is remembrances re-emerging like the youthful sprout fragile in its newness, in its responding to life’s call.  Yet, in time this newness will fade and become fragile as one’s autumn yields to their winter.


In a famous passage in the Meditations, Descartes speaks of looking from a window and seeing men pass in the street. ‘Yet,’ he reflects, ‘do I see any more than hats and coats which could conceal automations? I judge that they are men.’ …the observer no longer passes through them to see the living person beneath. He no longer sees what is implied.  However, the attention of the right hemisphere, concerned as it is with the being in context, permits us to see through them to the reality that lies around and beyond them. It could not make the mistake of seeing the clothes and hats in isolation.

The illusion that, if we can see something clearly, we see it as it really is, is hugely seductive. …We never see anything clearly…What we call seeing a thing clearly, is only seeing enough of it to make out what it is; this point of intelligibility varying in distance for different magnitudes and kinds of things…” Ruskin, in Modern Painters, makes the point that clarity is bought at the price of limitationHe gives the example of an open book and an embroidered handkerchief on a lawn.  Viewed from a distance of a quarter of a mile, they are indistinguishable; from closer, we can see which is which, but not read the book or trace the embroidery on the handkerchief: as we go nearer, we ‘can now read the text and trace the embroidery but cannot see the [fibers] of the paper, nor the threads of the stuff’; closer still and we can see the watermarks and the threads, ‘but not the hills and dales in the paper’s surface, nor the fine [fibers] which shoot off from every thread’; until we take a microscope to it, and so on, ad infinitum. At which point do we see it clearly? …Clarity, it seems, describes not a degree of perception but a type of knowledge.  To know something clearly is to know it partially only, and to know it, rather than to experience it, in a certain way (pp181-182).


**The Master and his Emissary

The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World

Iain McGilchrist