It is late.
Rain ran through the day. Some lightning. Raw. At Rankin's Hardware we pick up stove pipe. Wrong size. Will try again tomorrow. Kept shop closed. Prison first thing: Protective Custody Unit; Buddhist Group; Regular Meetingbrook Education Group. In the hallway one of the men shares Yale Review poem with me. In room talk of Obama and primaries. In BG young man wants to know if once a drug dealer, then getting enlightenment, do you become an enlightened drug dealer? In PC, reading NYTimes Magazine's Lives They Lived, two soldiers who'd published account of Iraq seldom heard, died in IED blast. In RMEG, story of shy Harlem blogger who was fierce in print.
Where subject and object are realized
As a single sphere
Happiness and sorrow mingle as one
Whatever circumstances I encounter,
I am free in the blissful realm
Of self-awakening Wisdom.
At the shop Sunday, Hugh sat awhile as I started the fire in wood stove. I reminded him of his painting ustairs in the Harbor Room. "I know, I know," he growled, "I want it to stay here for now." We're delighted to have it. From Greece, a rudder from classic sailing vessel, he says it befits our place. "The most important part of a ship isn't its engine nor its guns," he says. "It's the rudder. That's why I left it here." After a bit he gets up to go. "I'm glad I stopped in," he says. "Me too," I say. As he leaves I think about how many people I've known in their eighties. I like them.
If we forget that in every criminal there is a potential saint, we are dishonoring all of the great spiritual traditions. Saul of Tarsus persecuted and killed Christians before becoming Saint Paul, author of much of the New Testament. Valmiki, the revealer of the Ramayana, was a highwayman, a robber, and a murderer. Milarepa, one of the greatest Tibetan Buddhist gurus, killed thirty- seven people before he became a saint. Moses, who led the Jews out of bondage in Egypt, began his spiritual career by killing an Egyptian. If we forget that Charles Manson is capable of transformation, that doesn't reveal our lack of confidence in Manson, it shows our lack of confidence in our own scriptures. We must remember that even the worst of us can change.
Over the past twenty years I've had the privilege of knowing thousands of people who did horrible things and yet were able to transform their lives. They may not have become saints, but I have seen murderous rage gradually humbled into compassion, lifelong racial bigotry replaced by true brotherhood, and chronic selfishness transformed into committed altruism. The promises of every great spiritual tradition are indeed true: Our deepest nature is good, not evil.
(--from, Seven Ways to Fix the Criminal Justice System, by Bo Lozoff, from Renaissance Universal, http://www.ru.org/artseven.html)
So much is the luck of the draw. So, let's not put much stock in how good we are, or how noble, or how we've managed to live an upstanding life. I'm amused by the theater of righteousness played out on the street. It's not that simple. There's something else at work. It might be called luck, or grace -- but spare us the innuendo of holier than thou. Bad news can happen to any one of us on any Tuesday following any Monday. That's when life jump-starts. When chair has been kicked out from under and we swing with the will of something we did not envision -- then?
We'll talk then.
In the meantime, how do you like them Patriots? Who'll take Michigan primary? Do ya think Roger Clemens didn't really get juiced? Will there be a recession?
When the time appears we really have to talk, let's pray we'll have the courage to show up.
It'll be a nice change.