Quintessence: The Poetry of True Nature

Quintessence: The Poetry of True Nature

by Sara Priestley


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Tuesday, July 23


In quintessence: the poetry of true nature, author and teacher Sara Priestley continues her longtime exploration of both knowledge and experience, moving through reflections, emotions, and inner dialogue to reach a fuller recognition of the abundance of being. She frames this journey using the five fundamental elements of the universe as themes, grouping poems using the principles of earth, water, air, fire, or essence. Not only does this framework help with the discovery of meaning but also the attribution of it, coloring each poem with a new light.

Though Sara’s approach to poetry is often described as an inside-out way of knowing, she prefers to call it inside-in, to bring recognition to the directness of the paths of understanding. You’ll find profound truths penned with clarity, lightness, and simplicity as you share in her journey, poem by poem. And after you experience all the joy, freedom, grief, and peace quintessence offers, you may discover a new understanding of your own true nature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781632992178
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group, LLC
Publication date: 02/26/2019
Pages: 118
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.28(d)

About the Author

Sara Priestley brings a fresh new voice to poetry, blending ancient spiritual traditions with reflections on everyday experience. She is a longtime explorer of true nature, having earned degrees in theology and information technology, accompanied by studies in psychology and physiology. With clarity, lightness, and simplicity, Sara shares profound truths. Though Sara's approach to poetry is often described as an inside-out way of knowing, she prefers to call it inside-in, to bring recognition to the directness of the paths of understanding.

Sara teaches this inside-in understanding via social media, at retreats, in workshops, and on video coaching calls (usually accompanied by Pretzel the cat). She lives with her husband, and just the perfect number of cats, in London, England. Readers can email Sara with questions or comments at sara@livinglifesideways.co.uk.

Read an Excerpt



A Love Letter to Myself

Dear me,

I knew my "job" for the weekend was to love everyone in the room, including you. I didn't know if that could happen. It felt elusive.

It's as though every thought creates two universes. One where that thought happened, one where it didn't.

It seemed I had reached a dead end, a crisis point. Then, all the universes collapsed back into one universe. In a moment outside time, where all possibilities are true at once. I "bridged" to a universe where that dead end never happened, and love was much more obvious to me. The "job" arose from that moment.

I knew I loved everyone within seconds of entering the room. With brutal honesty, apart from you. I didn't run away. I stayed with that absence. In the middle, without shame. Stayed with all the possible universes.

Late on the second day, the question was asked, "Are you 100 percent OK?" All the universes collapsed into one again, and I fell in love with all the possible yous at once. Every possible past you, every possible future you — every single one. And I found the answer, "100 percent."

I can't not love you now. Experience might show up angry, sad, confused, happy, confident, shaky — but I can't not love you.

I didn't fall into love for that you, in that universe, in that moment of time. I met you in the Now, in the space of infinite possibilities.

And even these words don't quite do it justice. The perfect words elude me. The perfect words are not possible. Love is beyond the words.

Love you.

Be. You.

The simplest two words.
Seen for what they are in an instant.
And a lifetime of stripping away everything that isn't You.
For no reason than the Being of it.

Putting Myself Outside

Putting myself outside The thought I am this body Out in the world

Putting you outside The thought you are not me Separation

Feeling the thought of me Shake, crack, crumble to dust See no outside

No, It's Not OK

No, it's not OK When you speak to me like that.
No, it's not OK That you don't hear behind my words.
No, it's not OK To move the goalposts again.
No, it's not OK To refuse me space to change.
No, it's not OK To assume I'll understand.
No, it's not OK That you don't want to forgive.
No, it's not OK But I'm OK And you're OK And it's OK that we feel like this today.


They say how great it is we had the serious talk That we worked out our differences Put them behind us

What they don't see is there were no differences Nothing to work out

No investigation of right and wrong No full and frank exchange of hurts No redefining boundaries

Simply an eternity between two thoughts Where subject and object collapsed Knowing we were one


There are times when it all seems impossible.
When there's no way to a draw,
Or even to an honorable defeat.

And all there is to hold on to is the faint whisper,
  "You are Love" — to which the only reasonably polite
  answer is, "Go away."

But the faintest echo says, simply, "Love."
That seems possible.
Even from here.
To be open to love.
Knowing it is not the easy choice.
Knowing life this raw, this vulnerable, this real,
  does not offer any free passes.

From here, love is not perfect but possible.
Right now, possible is enough.

Live It

I am angry. He annoyed me.

I am happy. I feel connected to everyone and everything.

I lose myself. No need for connection,
because I am everything. The stuff it is all made of.

And repeat.

Misunderstanding, understanding, the disintegration of both.

And live it.


I can't forget that you are me That any harsh word Any something Belongs to me As much as you

When one of us knows That there are not two of us And one of us remembers Who we are

There is nothing To forgive Never was

There is everything To live Perfect


In learning that nothing exists outside of Consciousness,
nothing is lost.
Everything is just as it was.
But known.
Known in the full,
messy beauty of awareness.


You've heard it, right? "Look within"?
Did they point you to where "within" lies?

It's not found in the human brain, gut, heart or mind.
It's not found on a map.
It's not found through seeking.

"Within" reveals itself in experience.
At the core of experience is the source of experience.
Pure awareness.


I can't not love Even when something feels unkind

I can't not love Even when something Feels ...
No It is not despite the feeling But simply because

All Shall Be Well

"... all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."

— Julian of Norwich

This refrain has been echoing in my mind the last few days.

What does it mean?

It's not promising an easy life.

It's pointing to something more. A background OK-ness, even as the foreground erupts.

I am angry and hurting. And all shall be well.
I am scared and worrying. And all shall be well.
We will win or lose. And all shall be well.
We will age and die. And all shall be well.

All shall be well. All is well. Even when it isn't.

It can't not be.

I Am

I am angry.
I am happy.
I am insecure.
I am one hundred percent OK.

I am movement. I am stillness.
I am constantly changing thought.
I am constant Love.

I am that I am.

I Am.

Lose Your "Why"

Don't choose your "why"
Lose your "why"

You don't need a "why"
You are the "why"
Already Life living out perfectly One with you


Every day, I experience my body as though it were a solid thing.
Something existing beyond experience.
The human mind naturally looking to the body for answers,
Brilliantly forgetting that it and the body are perfect expressions of the same source.

Look again, and tell me how anything can exist beyond experience, beyond awareness, beyond source.

Then live it.

Meeting Point

I am the impossible meeting point

Where the impossibility of time dissolves into eternity

Where the impossibility of space dissolves into infinity

Where the impossibility of matter dissolves into pure unbounded nothing

Where the impossibility of ego dissolves into awareness

I am


If I thought anything,
I thought this understanding would smooth my edges,
polish me.

Turns out I'm not a rough gemstone,
but a flint.
A flint cracked open.
Jagged, raw.
A weapon.
A cutting Love.

Child of This Land

When I walk The streets of London My long-dead grandmother Walks with me The ghost of her city Overlaying mine

When I watch A Beatle singing
"Let it be" in Liverpool The Scouse grandfather I never met Sings too

When I climb the hills of Edinburgh The ghosts of past me Come too Memories At every corner

When I stroll The English lanes And leafy forests My childhood dog Runs with me Forever young

I used to say I was A child of this land And yearn for it When far away But now I know I can't not be Home



The Question Dissolves

Who am I?
There's no me That I can find Not tucked In the recesses Of what I call My mind Nor curled In my body Or hidden In the scribble Of my name

Who am I?
Freed From the confines Of mind And body And name That could never Contain Who we are

Seeing This mind This body This name

Are not Containers Or limitations But refractions Of who we are

Who am I?

There is no one To ask And no answers Needed

The question



Lost in a sea of words Lost in waves of complexity Lost in tides of description That can never be pinned down

Noticing I am the ocean Words dissolve Complexity untangles Descriptions soften and blur No longer lost Never lost

All In

Living it all in.

I say it so often.
What does it mean?

Is it:
Traveling the world?
Writing books?
Leading events?
Earning money?
Being a superstar?

Maybe "living it all in" isn't:
Sneaking onto the golf course,
Wearing a blanket,
Crying in the soft rain,
Walking barefoot in wet clover,
Drinking coffee under the oak.

But, right now, it feels like it.
All in, nothing on it.

Building Sandcastles

Building sandcastles Of angry words And hurt feelings

But sandcastles are only sand However well built

The incoming tide Can return them To what they were made of

Just sand

I Cried

I cried this morning for the child who thought it was all on her.
I cried this morning for the girl who tried so hard to be worthy.
I cried this morning for the young woman who felt all alone.
I cried this morning for the woman who saw without knowing.

I held each one in my heart.
I cried for each of them.
And let them go.

No Words

The stillness inside Sweeps the words away As a gentle tide sometimes Or now a raging tsunami Not just emptying the glass But ripping it from the hand Shattering into a million pieces

Shattered into a million pieces The idea of me Not empty But gone

No words.


At your essence You are the wave Experiencing itself

The Gift

A metaphor: "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man
  to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime."

A kind teacher helps a student see their story more clearly. It's a warm
  embrace. A relief.

But, it's a false relief. The student will be hungry again tomorrow.

A brave teacher creates a space for the student to realize they are not their
  story, and more, who they truly are does not know the story. From pure
  Consciousness, everything is beautiful and perfect, including the story.

A single insight, a shared experience of One Being — that will feed the
  student for a lifetime, whatever the story. And more, the student is no
  longer a student but a fellow explorer.

This is the greatest gift of a teacher. To know who we are already, and to
  wait there for us.

And to be a reminder of the truth we have always known, the truth that we

Soft (Dawn Walks at Sea 1)

The softening of the dawn sky Watching alone Briefly thought the whole show For me — but no I am here that the dawn Might be experienced I am, right here, right now The experience Of those smoky tendrils

Walking (Dawn Walks at Sea 2)

When a human walks, it shows up at the back of the pelvis as a beautiful,
constantly redrawn infinity symbol.

It follows, then, that at the heart of the movement is a point of perfect,
infinite stillness.

Sunrise (Dawn Walks at Sea 3)

At times, me walking, watching my second-chance sunrise break through the clouds.
  The very human desire to keep it tight, to bottle it and sip it slowly. Sadness at its

Then, a moment of what a wise man once called "paddling in the shallows
  of Consciousness" — a collapsing of subject and object, an experience of golden peace at
  the heart of the movement.

And then, walking, smiling, wrapped in the memory of being sunrise. And, more than
  that, the echo of the space in which sunrise is held but not known.

Raging (Dawn Walks at Sea 4)

Last night Ego raging The idea of me Raggedy and raw Feet stamping

This morning The softening of dawn A warm caress Movement flowing Not from the feet But from that infinite point Of perfect stillness

The rising sun Reflected in my veins As liquid gold A cleansing fire

Awareness (Dawn Walks at Sea 5)

Perfect Awareness

Joy unbounded Freedom unlimited Love unfettered

Awareness of running Joy, bounded Freedom, limited Love, fettered

Aware of me

Bounded — feeling judged Limited — pulling my stride Fettered — fearing not being enough

Turn into the wind Breath taken away Joy, Freedom, Love Found in the space between thoughts

All perfect

Pain (Dawn Walks at Sea 6)

Today, physical pain Pulling at my heels

First, old patterns Protecting, cosseting

Then, without prompting Moving to the heart of the pain

And finding not the sufferer But the sunrise

New (Dawn Walks at Sea 7)

New dawn New day New world

Redrawn every moment Always Now Always home

Felt (Dawn Walks at Sea 8)

Something felt No words

Being (Dawn Walks at Sea 9)

Being Awareness The space In which All this Happens

Not known But held The space Of infinite Possibilities Where everything Is Now



Thoughts and Storms

Thoughts and storms.
Thought storm.
Sand being whipped up, wrapping the air.
Creating the appearance Of a self To experience The storm.

And then.
Blown through.
Leaving the space That was always here.

Flint and Feather

As far as gravity is concerned, there is no difference between a flint stone and a feather.
In a vacuum, released together, they'd hit the ground together.
Which reminds me of some rainy afternoons in a student house,
with weights from the kitchen scales, a stopwatch and a very tall stairwell.
I digress.

As far as gravity is concerned, there is no difference between a flint stone and a feather.
Yet, sensation tells me otherwise.
In my hand, the flint is still warm from the sun.
Solidly here.
I feel it all. The rough, rounded side. The smooth sharp side.
The feather, though, rests in my hand so lightly,
I don't feel it.
I close my eyes; it may as well not be there.

As far as gravity is concerned, there is no difference between a flint stone and a feather.

The Present Moment

The constant hunt For the present moment A place to reach A nirvana within time

And yet The palest reflection Of the full power Of the single Moment Once and forever An undivided Now Outside of time

Gently cradling Every possible moment Every past Every future

One Being Holding every possible experience Like a grain of sand In the palm of the hand And that grain containing universes

Every possible moment Dissolving into Now

Midsummer Sun

Chasing the midsummer sun Suspended in a bubble of time The hands on the clock are stilled Drifting in a landscape of clouds

English Country Lanes

English country lanes Walking me home

There is nothing to be taught And no one to teach

I am the soft morning sky I am the birdsong

All of it, none of it Always home

Walk Gently in the Fields of Time

Walk gently in the fields of time, my dear Meander through the years Among the rows of hours and minutes Like neatly planted wheat

Feel the seconds ripple as grains Between your fingers

Rest in the long, soft grasses And dream of misty futures

Walk gently in the fields of time, my dear

Who Am I?

Who am I?
I am what is thought.
And who am I Between thoughts?


In imagination only But not my imagination For I am imagined

In sensation only But not my senses For I am felt

In Consciousness only But not my consciousness For I am experienced

In realization only Made real And recognized


Thought Ethereal Ephemeral Like a whispered word Or a kiss in the dark To be experienced Not held


A shift in perception is not a new way of looking at the same world.
A shift in perception is to see before the world.
To its source.
To see, for a moment outside of time, how flimsy is everything that looked so solid.
And to find, instead, something permanently reliable.
From there, we come back to a new world.


For the Briefest Of moments

I heard What is Before hearing

I saw What is Before sight

I felt What is Before touch

And I was all of it.

That single Undivided Glimpse

Is enough

More than Enough For All time

A life lived In the forgetting And the remembering

Imperfectly Perfectly So

What I Say

Here's what I say:
"He annoyed me"
"I am sad that she is sick"
"I worry about my job"

Here's what is real:
I am annoyed I am sad I am worried

Here's what is beyond:
I am Freedom I am Love I am Joy

A perpetual dance. I am all of it.


Excerpted from "Quintessence"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Sara Priestley.
Excerpted by permission of River Grove Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

A Love Letter to Myself,
Be. You.,
Putting Myself Outside,
No, It's Not OK,
Live It,
All Shall Be Well,
I Am,
Lose Your "Why",
Meeting Point,
Child of This Land,
The Question Dissolves,
All In,
Building Sandcastles,
I Cried,
No Words,
The Gift,
Soft (Dawn Walks at Sea),
Walking (Dawn Walks at Sea),
Sunrise (Dawn Walks at Sea),
Raging (Dawn Walks at Sea),
Awareness (Dawn Walks at Sea),
Pain (Dawn Walks at Sea),
New (Dawn Walks at Sea),
Felt (Dawn Walks at Sea),
Being (Dawn Walks at Sea),
Thoughts and Storms,
Flint and Feather,
The Present Moment,
Midsummer Sun,
English Country Lanes,
Walk Gently in the Fields of Time,
Who Am I?,
What I Say,
Creation Song,
Do You Pray?,
Between Two Thoughts,
It's the Most Natural Thing,
The Fire Burns,
Head to Heart,
Haiku: The Eternal Dance of Life,
Ego Rages,
Dancing with Shadows,
I Think,
I Lost Myself,
Lake Sunset,
Inside Out,
Where Do I End?,
So What?,
This Love,
Now What?,
Love Alone,
When You Know,
No Possessions,
Pure Knowing,
Speaking Love in the World,
When Time Stands Still,
One Infinite Being,
Come With Me,
The Search Stops Here,
About the Author,

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Quintessence: The Poetry of True Nature 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
HarmN 9 months ago
4.5/5 stars. This poetry collection was a nice, quick, and refreshing read. With several of the poems really making me think, and making me feel. It was nice to be able to just read, and read, without multiple things going on, on the pages. Overall a great read for those who are a fan of poerty.