Saturday, May 05, 2007

Two seagulls sat each on a piling just off the patio. Nothing was tossed to them from balcony. The former tosser has found another residing place. The seagulls went their way.

The damp dusk chilled to bone.
To My Mother

I was your rebellious son,
do you remember? Sometimes
I wonder if you do remember,
so complete has your forgiveness been.

So complete has your forgiveness been
I wonder sometimes if it did not
precede my wrong, and I erred,
safe found, within your love,

prepared ahead of me, the way home,
or my bed at night, so that almost
I should forgive you, who perhaps
foresaw the worst that I might do,

and forgave before I could act,
causing me to smile now, looking back,
to see how paltry was my worst,
compared to your forgiveness of it

already given. And this, then,
is the vision of that Heaven of which
we have heard, where those who love
each other have forgiven each other,

where, for that, the leaves are green,
the light a music in the air,
and all is unentangled,
and all is undismayed.

(Poem by Wendell Berry)
So much doesn't matter. We fret, we fuss, we escalate the smallest things. But, truth is, it doesn't matter.

What does matter is that however absurd we are, there are others who top our absurdity.

"Tolstoy died poor. " That's what Annie said tonight, after Lloyd read from one of Tolstoy's letters.
"In historical events great men - so-called - are but labels serving to give a name to the event, and like labels they have the least possible connection with the event itself. Every action of theirs, that seems to them an act of their own free will, is in an historical sense not free at all, but in bondage to the whole course of previous history, and predestined from all eternity."
(Leo Tolstoy, from War and Peace)




Is it.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Listening to the sound of what is taking place; looking at the sight of what is taking place. Engaging what is taking place with lovingkindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity -- we enter the vitality of May.

May I?

A woman remembers receiving chemo in a room with other women. She recalls feeling the love and care involved in the setting up and dispensing of the chemo. Sitting at Thursday Evening Conversation on lesson 123 of the Course in Miracles ( "I thank my Father for His gifts to me" ), she brings that experience to the circle in the bookstore.

We are looking at, perhaps even seeing, what is taking place.
As for me, I delight
in the everyday Way,
among mist-wrapped
vines and rocky caves.
Here in the wilderness
I am completely free,
with my friends,
the white clouds, idling forever.
There are roads,
but they do not reach the world;
since I am mindless,
who can rouse my thoughts?
On a bed of stone
I sit, alone in the night,
while the round moon
climbs up Cold Mountain.

- Han Shan
There's a variation of the Golden Rule taking place in her telling. It goes like this: Whatever is done to others is done to me.

There's both a chilling and heart-warming insight that comes with contemplation of interconnectiveness. It is this: We feel what we do to others; others feel what is done to us. It is all shared feeling, participatory experience. Such a communion of received reality seems, at first blush, wonderful. Then, frightening. Maybe, finally, just so.

The difficulty we experience in "receiving communion" is our unawareness of what is taking place.

We have grown used to thinking, analyzing, and interpreting. We have, correspondingly, forgotten much about feeling, presencing, and allowing/forgiving what is taking place.

The poet e.e.cummings wrote, "not to completely feel is thinking." We've grown so confused about matters of war, inequality, political deceit, and unkindness that we no longer know what to think. The configurations and complexities of contemporary economic, political, and moral considerations are making us numb. Not only do we not know what to think, we no longer feel what we feel. Our feelings about the chaos surrounding us have been referred to thinking, which has collapsed under the strain of absurdity, impotence, and fatalism.
Rest In Being --
Sitting quietly, feel what sits there. Explore the body you sit in. Observe the scintillating field of sensation we call the body.
Notice sensation's wordless quality.
Its sense of simply being humming through the body.
Go within sensation to that subtle presence by which the sensation is known. Feel the sensation within sensation.
Settle into that sense of being, of aliveness vibrating in each cell. Rest in being.
Just sit quietly and know. Let awareness sink into yourself. Know what knows. Experience directly that sense by which you imagine you exist. Enter it wholeheartedly. Sit in the center of that hum. Does it have a beginning? Does it have an ending? Or is there just a sense of endless being, unborn and undying? Don't ask the mind, which always limits itself with definitions, ask the heart, which cannot name it but always is it.
Rest in being.

(--Stephen Levine, from 365 Nirvana, Here and Now by Josh Baran)
This is how one/an/other is cured. Maybe there is no cure for cancer. Maybe there soon will be one. But in the meantime, instead of focusing attention on the disease of cancer, we might instead give our attention to the health of the individual person who perhaps is suffering the disease. We can help cure one another. With lovingkindness. With compassion. With appreciative or sympathetic joy. And with equanimity and balance.

What we give out, returns. What we receive, is given. We are an infinite going out and returning in -- a figure "8" of wandering away from center, then returning through center core enroute out around and back again.

If we feel the sound and feel the sight of what is taking place -- we have become what God longs to be -- presence, loving and simple presence.
since feeling is first

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a far better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
--the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for eachother: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

(--poem by e.e. cummings)
Birds eat. Sun shines. Dog snoozes.

It is May!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The koan is simple. It takes the form of a statement: "Listen to the sound of what is being said."
The monk asked, "What is Buddha?" The master said, "Who are you?"
(--Joshu, quoted in 365 Nirvana, Here and Now)
A wonderful question.


What is.



Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Full moon. Who would mistake the full moon for a hole in the night sky?
The Lost Necklace
...No special effort is necessary to realize the Self. All efforts are for eliminating the present obscuration of the Truth. A lady is wearing a necklace around her neck. She forgets it, imagines it to be lost and impulsively looks for it here, there and everywhere. Not finding it, she asks her friends if they found it anywhere, until one kind friend points to her neck and tells her to feel the necklace around her neck. The seeker does so and feels happy that the necklace is found. Again, when she meets other friends, they ask her if her lost necklace was found. She says, "yes" to them, as if it were lost and later recovered. Her happiness at re-discovering it round her neck is the same as if some lost property was recovered. In fact, she never lost it nor recovered it. And yet she was once miserable and now she is happy. So also with the Realization of the Self.

--Ramana Maharshi, 365 Nirvana, Here and Now
Do not seek, and you will not be found.

Anyone around my base is it.

Ready or not, there I go.

Home free!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

We light candle and burn incense for Joseph this 1st of May.
St Joseph the Worker
The feast of Saint Joseph the Worker is not a mere Catholic copying of the Communist First of May – any more than Christmas is a mere copy of the pagan feast of Saturnalia.
The Christian view of work is diametrically opposed to the materialist view. A worker such as St Joseph is not a mere lump of labour – “1.00 human work units”. He is a person. He is created in God’s own image, and just as creation is an activity of God, so creation is an activity of the worker. The work we do echoes the glorious work that God has done. It may not be wasted; or abused; or improperly paid; or directed to wrong or pointless ends. To do any of these things is not oppression, it is sacrilege. The glory of the present economic system is when it gives so many, of whatever class, the chance to build and create something worthwhile, whether from their own resources, or in collaboration with others, or by attracting investment from others. But its shame is when that does not happen: when people are coerced, by greed or by poverty, into being “lumps of labour”. Whether the labour is arduous or not makes no difference; whether it is richly paid or not makes no difference.

We work because we are alive. When hands get dirty, we wash them. When someone asks for something, we attempt to serve.
Daily activity is nothing
Other than harmony within.
When each thing I do is
Without taking or rejecting,
There is no contradiction anywhere.
For whom is the majesty
Of red and purple robes?
The summit of the inner being
Has never been defiled by the dust of the world.

- P’ang Yun
Cesco still enjoys walking the mountain -- although, the circle we take grows shorter. A Border Collie, he's always working. We're merely his co-workers.

What a delight to be within his supervision.

Work well.




Monday, April 30, 2007

The woman in the Bagel Shop said she was a non-participating member of a local small Christian church.

She was, however, interested in the cultivation of the Brahma Viharas, i.e., lovingkindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity.
The Brahma Viharas (Divine Abiding practices) are concentration practices that soften the heart and strengthen the mind. If we view the Buddha as a Doctor, the cultivations of metta (lovingkindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (appreciative joy), and upekkha (equanimity) were prescribed as medicines for that which ails us. We, who follow these wise directions, are the nurses administering the antidotes to suffering. With this perspective in mind:

Metta is the antidote to the poison of ill will.
Karuna counteracts symptoms associated with cruelty; the lack of mercy.
Mudita is the medicine for the pernicious symptoms of jealousy and envy.
Upekkha promotes homeostasis as it neutralizes clinging and craving and the insidious quality of indifference.

(--from the Brahma Vihara Foundation)
The coffee and conversation were helpful toward clarifying the Monday issues needing clearing conversation. Several people say hello and stop to settle lesser matters. The three of us are engaged in Spiritual Friendship Conversation in the public arena of coffee and bagels this rainy day.
It is pitiful that we are
living in a treasure mountain
but cannot see it.
If we develop an
enlightenment seeking mind,
everything becomes the
practice of enlightenment,
even if we are in the midst
of the various worlds of samsara.

- Dogen (1200-1253)
It is tempting to say: 'Life is not difficult, people are difficult.' Fact is, life is neither difficult nor easy. Life is unceasing surprise and incalculable grace placed before us. With our habits and conditioning, we, at times, behave in ways that are unskillful and troublesome. Hurts and disappointments result. So it is.

Life is life. I have no desire to make it other than what it is. I long only for what is source and sustenance of life. Prayer and meditation are doorway and window through which to look and pass into source and sustenance.
The Gardeners

In the spring she
drops the seeds, he
covers them. He
digs up the weeds.
She cuts the flowers.
She takes the blooms
and puts them in
every room. They soar
red from the tables, sprout
yellow from the shelves,
hang purple from
the ceiling, blue
from the edges of
lampshades. Clusters
of flowers sit in
tiny pots on every
windowsill, in open
cupboards, behind
the sink. He stands
beside her as she tosses
all the wilted leaves
into a rusty bucket.
This house is heaven's
door, the air gathering
the bashful smells of
blossoms, roots, cut
stems, wet dirt, new
and rotting leaves.

(--Poem, "The Gardeners" by Jack Ridl, from Broken Symmetry.)
It seems proportionate to say of ourselves (as of life) that we are "new / and rotting leaves."

This is as it is on hill behind feeder under fog through which rain falls where these eyes look on old brown leafy cloak on ground and light copper birthing bud on beech.

Air gathering.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bored with war, America turns to baseball. Multimillionaire athletes take the field and calculate how many tens of thousands they are making just standing in the outfield for one inning. At home millions of fans watch and cheer the pitcher and hitter going through paces unfolding the drama of battle and wit, strength and good fortune.

The former Giants center-fielder summed it up with simplicity:
They throw the ball, I hit it.
They hit the ball, I catch it.

— Willie Mays
Everything else is propaganda.

Propaganda is "The systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause or of information reflecting the views and interests of those advocating such a doctrine or cause."
Propagandist messages aim at influencing the opinions or behavior of people.

I look forward to a time when everything stands on its own and needs no propaganda, advertisement, explanation, or cheer-leading. Light will be what it is -- its own indication something is dwelling within. Something is, or will be, at home.
The Buddha's Last Instruction

"Make of yourself a light"
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal-a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
even green.
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.

And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire-
clearly I'm not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.

(--Poem by Mary Oliver)
We get frightened when we do not feel illumined by someone else's light. Our light within seems insufficient to us. But, truth is, all light is one light -- and that light is divine light. If we believe ourselves separate, we fall under the belief-cloak of shadow even while light-within radiates outward no shadow.

Reliving History

This must have been what it was like
the summer before the Great War,
quiet towns just like this, men and women
riding their bicycles through the streets
after dinner, no sound except their pedaling
and the squeaking of their seats under them,

the wet metal sound of grass being cut
always behind houses, out of sight,
all human voices murmuring or far away,
the pink and red zinnias blazing out at them
in that moment before dark,
the mix of the first woodsmoke
and the last apples so sharp
and sweet you could weep.

(--Poem: "Reliving History" by Francette Cerulli, from The Sprits Need to Eat.
No matter how absurd the salaries and brouhaha , I prefer baseball to war. I prefer a good backhand scoop by an agile third-baseman to the firing of semi-automatic and screaming obscenities of fear riddled with explosions thrown at those considered enemy in war zones throughout world.

Root for your team. Cheer a good play. Smile at a fan of the opposing team.

Pray for end of war. Work for an ending of any and all wars. Learn the terrifying demands of peace.

Love the game. It's life, and life is short -- no matter what anyone's opinion about what happens after death, it comes. As the narrative opening to "The Tibetan Book of the Dead -- A Way of Life" says:
Death is real. It comes without warning. And it cannot be escaped.
Play well.

Keep your head down for grounders. Don't rush your throw. Use the cut-off player.

Slide only when necessary.