Saturday, August 29, 2009


That's the mnemonic for 'Truth as I see it all through.' It could also stand for: Let it be itself, let itself be.
The water has no mind and just winds along
The mountain has a shape that circles all around
The seclusion never ends and only grows deeper
Sitting on a boulder I forget the way home

- Wang An-shih (1021-1086)
Don't be attached to form. Don't be attached to emptiness. Neither suffice. Both need the other to go on.
When the young man on State Street
approached as if to ask directions,
saying, ”Can you help me out a little here?”
and I, though I already knew, said,
“Help you out how, exactly?”
“A dollar or two if you can,”
he said, and I took a deep breath,
holding in what I might’ve held out,
hearing When someone asks, you
give what you can, from my bank
of training in the ways of compassion,
and though I didn’t want to,
opened my wallet, and
with the munificence of a toad,
pulled out a five and bought him off.

(--Poem by Dan Gerber)
All we can say is: This is what I see; this is how I see it.

Be modest. Even humble

Life is too big to claim it is yours.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Reading Tolle at conversation. Something about "consciousness without form."

I think about being an agnostic listening to the ways some participants describe what is meaningful to them. I don't know whether what they are emphasizing is merely a temporary metaphor to them or a fixed truth. Mostly I don't know what they mean. Which does not interfere with my appreciation of them in the process of revealing and discovering what is true for them.

It is, I think, just the way pure consciousness filters through individual forms that choose to hold a particular expression as meaningful. We call these expressions 'beliefs' or 'thoughts' or 'feelings.'

They are forming consciousness -- or, they are particularized presentations of consciousness.

Mostly, we try to do our best.
I have read your words and they are true
Indistinct from the deepest truths
At first we mistake this magic gem as rubble
Then suddenly we see it is a jewel
Ignorance and wisdom aren’t different
The ten thousand dharmas are simply so
But for those who cling to dualistic views
I take out my brush and write down these words
Don’t see yourself as anything but a Buddha
Why search for a place where nothing at all remains? (nirvana)
- Hui-ko’s response
Augustine said:
Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your guidance the innermost places of my being; but only because you had become my helper was I able to do so. I entered, then, and with the vision of my spirit, such as it was, I saw the incommutable light far above my spiritual ken and transcending my mind: not this common light which every carnal eye can see, nor any light of the same order; but greater, as though this common light were shining much more powerfully, far more brightly, and so extensively as to fill the universe. The light I saw was not the common light at all, but something different, utterly different, from all those things. Nor was it higher than my mind in the sense that oil floats on water or the sky is above the earth; it was exalted because this very light made me, and I was below it because by it I was made. Anyone who knows truth knows this light.
(--from The Confessions of Saint Augustine of Hippo, bishop, 354 - 430)
I've always enjoyed being informal.

Along with open.

And free.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Once I tried to write love letters. They came out like puzzles chasing evasion through a maze.

I no longer write these letters.
Our body creates a shadow, and our voice produces an echo. And yet people exhaust their body to chase their shadow without realizing that their shadow comes from their body. And people raise their voice to stop its echo unaware that the echo comes from their voice.

Getting rid of affliction to attain nirvana is like trying to find one’s shadow apart from one’s body. And abandoning one’s humanity to achieve Buddhahood is like stilling one’s voice and listening for its echo. Thus we know that delusion and awareness are the same and ignorance and wisdom aren’t different.

From what has no name, we make names. And once we have names, right and wrong appear. From what has no principle, we make principles. And once we have principles, arguments arise. Illusions aren’t real. So who is right and who is wrong? Delusions aren’t true. So are they empty or do they exist?

I would like to know how to gain what cannot be gained and how to lose what cannot be lost. Unable to pay you a visit, I send these thoughts and dare hope for a reply.

- Layman Hsiang to Hui-ko (550)
It's good to know there have been letters that are so true they make no sense.

Don't bother replying.

Simply dare hope.

Keep quiet.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Seeds and shotgun.

The man who stops by says he could go live in northern Maine with a pail of seeds to plant and a shotgun for whatever the need might be. It's that way when the world turns on the fire-hose, when the drip drip drip of faucet troubles turns into full ferocious nozzle blast.

So we talk about suffering. About the perfect loving embrace of God -- that blessing that says 'Lose it all, find me.' It's a little different from the 'Love God and get wealthy; Give yourself to Jesus and drive a Cadillac which is parked in front of the 10 bedroom mountain estate you will occupy if you send me money.'
May the sound of the bell and drum dispel afflictions
May it nourish the roots of wisdom
And give rise to the fruit of awareness
May it carry to the depths of Hell
And echo through the Three Realms
(Desire, Form, and Formlessness)
And may all who hear it become Buddhas
And vow to liberate others

- Evening song of offering from Wuhsiang Temple
We hang large cylindrical gong on cabin porch. It will be rung before and after sittings. The mountain will know. Neighbors will hear it. Trees and birds and earth itself will nod with affirmation. These humans, they will say, are learning to be still and know.

Tom speaks of his experience with a 'han.' We look it up. These words Tom finds:
A ‘han’ is a wooden board struck by a mallet with a particular rhythm to announce the beginning of a zazen period in a Zen monastery. It is also sometimes struck before the monks retire for bed.
Often, a variation of this verse of the Buddha’s is engraved on the han:

Let me respectfully remind you,
Life and death are of supreme importance.
Time passes by swiftly and opportunity is lost.
Each of us should strive to awaken.
Awaken! Take heed, do not squander your life.


Great is the matter of birth and death
Life flows quickly by
Time waits for no one
Wake up! Wake up!
Don't waste a moment!
We move wood, we cart brush and branches, we travel to dump. A site begins to be readied for a book shed.

Pink clouds over Bald Mountain.

Everything might just be perfect.

As it is.

We don't know.

So we are.

Saying this.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Emotions are emotions. But views change everything without changing anything.

Don't try to get rid of particular emotions; rather, see what is taking place with clarity.
Views, not emotion

As the Buddhist view has consistently demonstrated, it is the perspective of the sufferer that determines whether a given experience perpetuates suffering or is a vehicle for awakening. To work something through means to change one's view; if we try instead to change the emotion, we may achieve some short-term success, but we remain bound by forces of attachment and aversion to the very feelings from which we are struggling to be free.

(- Mark Epstein, from "Shattering the Ridgepole," Tricycle, Spring 1995, Daily Dharma, Learn how to change how you see, not how you feel)
Mice in my walls leave me less alone. Still, as the saying goes, I'm not lonely when I'm alone, I'm just alone.

I'm grateful that, today, I can experience silence and solitude. All my brothers and sisters that are burdened by voices and unwanted mental interruptions have my compassionate attention. Someone writes that she sees a young man we know "walking on the street, talking angrily to his voices." I have greeted him in passing. He generously ceases the argument for a spell to say hello through the weariness of the colloquy.
Ars Poetica #100: I Believe

Poetry, I tell my students,
is idiosyncratic. Poetry

is where we are ourselves,
(though Sterling Brown said

“Every ‘I’ is a dramatic ‘I’”)
digging in the clam flats

for the shell that snaps,
emptying the proverbial pocketbook.

Poetry is what you find
in the dirt in the corner,

overhear on the bus, God
in the details, the only way

to get from here to there.
Poetry (and now my voice is rising)

is not all love, love, love,
and I’m sorry the dog died.

Poetry (here I hear myself loudest)
is the human voice,

and are we not of interest to each other?

(--Poem by Elizabeth Alexander)
The young man sat in the back row, right side, third seat in for two courses at university college.

Sometimes I think we are a poem being written as we mutter and negotiate with voice and tone, context and revelation, echoing through the writing.

Some lines don't want to see the page of their presentation in public. We are crumpled paper of scratched-through phrases haunting our minds with no peace until snub-point pencil lead finds conciliation arrived at, jotted down, and passed over to resident critic's wary eye.

My mind is tortured by counter-terror experts steering armed drones from long distances at desert battlefields where wandering psyches face insurgent demons.

I cannot escape the world. It is not something I am in to escape. Rather, the world is what I am.

I can only wander endless warrens with every expression of me.

There I am! Where was I? Am I recognizable?

Can you see me?

Will you even look?

Is there any interest?

Monday, August 24, 2009

The hobo statuette smiles in tea candle glow cooking hot dog over campfire.

It is a metier specific to my interior template. It is my vocation and trade, an area of activity in which one excels.
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something,” said Upton Sinclair, “when his salary... depend[s] upon his not understanding it.”
(--from All the President’s Zombies, by Paul Krugman, OpEd, NYTimes, Published: August 23, 2009)
Sometimes cheats and liars make a great deal of money. Lobbyists and politicians are Alfonse and Gaston at the revolving door of the bank where they wash out their gotten goods.

My great disappointment is that I am not a successful cheat. We all cheat. Some of us are successful. Not me.

It is silly to say I am poor. Owning nothing is a double entendre.

Without saying anything, can you tell me the correct way to live?

I'll wait for you.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Heart Sutra says, "No attainment, with nothing to attain."

To attain means to compass, which means to bring about, accomplish. Nothing to accomplish. No bringing about.

What to do?
You should train yourself: Even though I may be sick in body, my
mind will be free of sickness. That's how you should train yourself....
And how is one sick in body but not sick in mind? There is the case
where an instructed noble disciple ... does not assume the body to be
the self, or the self as possessing the body, or the body as in the
self, or the self as in the body. He is not obsessed with the idea that
"I am the body" or "The body is mine." As he is not obsessed with these ideas, his body changes and alters, but he does not fall into sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair over its change and alteration. (Similarly with feeling, perception, mental processes, and consciousness.) This is how one is sick in body but not sick in mind.

- The Buddha
No hurricane hit Maine. It hit Nova Scotia.

Two dogs run barking into the yard.

The injured cat must surely take notice.