Saturday, October 24, 2009

Rain throughout day as huddles indoors at Camden Snowbowl brief speeches and homemade treats as letters and petitions are signed and sent. Then the photograph. Soaking happily.
The great way of the buddhas is profound, wondrous, inconceivable; how could its practice be easy? Have you not seen how the ancients gave up their bodies and lives, abandoned their countries, cities, and families, looking upon them as shards of tile?

After that they passed eons living alone in the mountains and forests, bodies and minds like dead trees; only then did they unite with the way. Then they could use the mountains and rivers for words, raise the wind and rain for a tongue, and explain the great void, turning the incomparable wheel.

- Dogen (1200-1253)
To unite with the way is to let rain fall to ground.

How hard it that?

It is time to come to earth.

As rain through itself.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

We are here for dialogue.

We speak through one another.

To that between us, spoken with heart open and mind open.

That is the spiritual life. That, the corporeal life. It is the whole of life lived in the middle.

Green waters and verdant mountains
are the places to walk in meditation;
by the streams or under the trees
are places to clear the mind.
Observe impermanence,
never forget it;
this urges on the will to seek enlightenment.

- Keizan Jokin (1264-1325)
Watching A Mighty Heart, the story by Mariane Pearl about her husband Daniel's kidnapping. And murder. And the process of unveiling.

This kind of violence is what occurs when we forget we are between one another in encounter and conversation. We are not objects to be spoken at. Not things to be used to settle unhappiness. We are not where we think we are, nor what we think we are.

What are we? And where are we?

Lean in. Between us, there is revealed something not heard before. Not seen before.

Just this: for this instant we are what is taking place between us.

We are not, nor is God, anywhere else but in this ever-present and ever-changing place emerging and disappearing between us.

Look there. And if you do not see it, look again.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Climate change. That's what the focus is on.

Good for the effort.
If you place your body in the realm
Of equanimity and noncontention,
And let your mind roam in the
Territory of evenness and nondisturbance,
And water them every day with
Fair words and fine deeds of sage worthies,
Then you are sure to progress.

- Wu Yubi (1391-1469)
It's something to think about.

And that's not nothing.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gone nowhere.

Some days solitude takes you.

A saturation takes place. All the personalities and opinions! The jostling in politics. The positions held and trumpeted. The wearying of words intended to carpet a flawed floor.
Throw away holiness and wisdom,
and people will be a hundred times happier.
Throw away morality and justice,
and people will do the right thing.
Throw away industry and profit,
and there won't be any thieves.

If these three aren't enough,
just stay at the center of the circle
and let all things take their course.

(--ch 19, Tao Te Ching, by Lao-tzu, from a translation by Stephen Mitchell)
There are days when you don't care. When the ordinary expectations fizzle into ash.

Kathleen Norris in her 2008 book Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life, writes:
At its Greek root, the word acedia means the absence of care. The person afflicted by acedia refuses to care or is incapable of doing so. When life becomes too challenging and engagement with others too demanding, acedia offers a kind of spiritual morphine: you know the pain is there, yet can't rouse yourself to give a damn. That it hurts to care is borne out in etymology, for care derives from an Indo-European word meaning "to cry out," as in a lament. Caring is not passive, but an assertion that no matter how strained and messy our relationships can be, it is worth something to be present, with others, doing our small part. Care is also required for the daily routines that acedia would have us suppress or deny as meaningless repetition or too much bother.
If care means 'to cry out,' and God is invocation, what is to be seen in an acedic lament? And what did the monk mean when he said to me: "Cheer up...things are only going to get worse!"?
A Buddhist Retreat Behind Broken-Mountain Temple

In the pure morning, near the old temple,
Where early sunlight points the tree-tops,
My path has wound, through a sheltered hollow
Of boughs and flowers, to a Buddhist retreat.
Here birds are alive with mountain-light,
And the mind touches peace in a pool,
And a thousand sounds are quieted
By the breathing of a temple-bell. - Ch'ang Chien
It seems everyone has a complaint. The left and the right, the orthodox and the heretics (hairesis, Greek for 'choice,' as in those with a different opinion), those in power and those without power.

Nowhere is there enough solitude.

Itself a poem. Itself as poem.

Amy Lowell wrote:
No one expects a man to make a chair without first learning how, but there is a popular impression that the poet is born, not made, and that his verses burst from his overflowing heart of themselves. As a matter of fact, the poet must learn his trade in the same manner, and with the same painstaking care, as the cabinet-maker. His heart may overflow with high thoughts and sparkling fancies, but if he cannot convey them to his reader by means of written word he has no claim to be considered a poet. A workman may be pardoned, therefore, for spending a few moments to explain and describe the technique of his trade. A work of beauty which cannot stand an intimate examination is a poor and jerry-built thing.

In the first place, I wish to state my firm belief that poetry should not try to teach, that it should exist simply because it is a created beauty, even if sometimes the beauty of a gothic grotesque. We do not ask the trees to teach us moral lessons, and only the Salvation Army feels it necessary to pin texts upon them. We know that these texts are ridiculous, but many of us do not yet see that to write an obvious moral all over a work of art, picture, statue, or poem, is not only ridiculous, but timid and vulgar. We distrust a beauty we only half understand, and rush in with our impertinent suggestions. How far are we from "admitting the Universe"! The Universe, which flings down its continents and seas, and leaves them without comment. Art is as much a function of the Universe as an Equinoctial gale, or the Law of Gravitation; and we insist upon considering it merely a little scroll-work, or no great importance unless it be studded with nails from which pretty and uplifting sentiments may be hung!
(--from The Poet's Trade, by Amy Lowell, at,
So it is today and yesterday both emit half understood beauty.

This jerry-built acausality.
Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist, was fascinated by what he termed the process of synchronicity - seemingly random events which have a personally significant meaning. For example, you may start to think of a friend whom you haven't seen for a long time, only to receive an unexpected phone call from that friend the same day. Or, you are looking unsuccessfully for the source of a quotation when, almost unthinkingly, you pick up a book from your library, open it randomly, and there it is ! These type of things happen quite often.

Jung termed this process 'synchronicity' and he said that it is an
acausal principle in that there seems to be no cause-effect process at work. However, I believe that this process is still based on the law of cause and effect, but on a level which we are not perceptive enough to realise. Synchronicity takes place in the hidden depths of the psychic - that is, at the transpersonal and quantum levels of existence.

This said, there is indeed a level of Being which is truly acausal, untouched by the law of cause and effect. It does not, however, occur or arise in the world of matter-energy, nor on the level of mind and psyche, but in the realm of Pure Consciousness. In the extraordinary Yogic text called the 'Yoga Vashishta', written several thousand years ago, the story is told of the crow and the coconut.......

A crow alights on a coconut tree and at the very same moment, by chance, a ripe coconut falls. These two unrelated events seem to be related in time and space, though in fact there is no causal relation. A man sitting under the tree would think 'it is because of the crow that I am now eating this wonderfully ripe coconut.'

The meaning of this parable is profound. It does not apply to the daily life of 'sticks and stones', where cause and effect is quite evident. Nor does it refer to the mental and psychic levels where, though less evident, cause and effect still function. It alludes to the relationship between Purusha (Pure Consciousness) and Prakriti (Matter-Energy-Mind) and the 'Transcendental Point' (Skt. 'bindu') where these two principles 'touch' each other. This is acausal.

In the story, there seems to be a cause-effect relationship between the crow and the falling of the coconut, but this is only how it appears and is due to our lack of understanding. If we could see the wider picture, we would see that there is no relationship between the crow and the falling coconut. In the same way, there is no cause-effect relationship between Pure Consciousness and the world of form, matter, energy and mind. This is a paradox which defies our normal logic.

The Bhagawat Gita declares: "All this world is pervaded by Me (the acausal Consciousness) in My unmanifest aspect; all beings exist in Me, but I do not dwell in them." (verse 9:4)

By jumping beyond the world of cause and effect, we may be blessed with the Vision and Realisation of the
Acausal. Yoga and deep Meditation allow us to plunge into this ineffable experience
(--from, From the Causal to Acausal, by Swami Nishchalananda Saraswati,
Nothing to flout. Nothing to flaunt.

A mere nothingness.

Ramana Maharshi looks at silence with different eyes:
A visitor asked: `What is mouna (silence)?'
Mouna is not closing the mouth. It is eternal speech.
D.: I do not understand.
M.: That state which transcends speech and thought is
D.: How to achieve it?
M.: Hold some concept firmly and trace it back. By such concentration silence results. When practice becomes natural it will end in silence.
Meditation without mental activity is silence. Subjugation of the mind is meditation. Deep meditation is eternal speech.

D.: How will worldly transaction go on if one observes silence?
M.: When women walk with water pots on their heads and chat with their companions they remain very careful, their thoughts concentrated on the loads on their heads. Similarly when a sage engages in activities, these do not disturb him because his mind abides in Brahman.

(20th July, 1936, Talk 231, from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi,
Some days you take solitude.

Going nowhere.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A single candle hangs in center of chapel zendo tonight.
On Going to see a Taoist Master

A dog barking and the sound of water;
Peach blossoms heavy with dew.
In these deep woods, deer can be seen;
At noon along the stream, I hear no bell.
Wild bamboo divides gray clouds;
Waterfalls hang from blue peaks.
No one knows where you've gone;
Disheartened, I lean against a second,
Now a third pine.

- Li Po
All things of the night remember in silence things of the day.

Only silence suffices these times.
Older Love

His wife has asthma
so he only smokes outdoors
or late at night with head
and shoulders well into
the fireplace, the mesquite and oak
heat bright against his face.
Does it replace the heat
that has wandered from love
back into the natural world?
But then the shadow passion casts
is much longer than passion,
stretching with effort from year to year.
Outside tonight hard wind and sleet
from three bald mountains,
and on the hearth before his face
the ashes we’ll all become,
soft as the back of a woman’s knee.

(-Poem by Jim Harrison)
That soft.

And as quiet.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Alan Watts called his book: Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown: A Mountain Journal. The production editorial writeup says: 'Watts suggests a way of contemplative meditation in which we temporarily stop naming and classifying all that we experience, and simply feel it as it is."

A good pointer.
Seeking But Not Finding the Recluse

Under the pine
I ask the boy;
He says: "My Mistress is gone
To gather herbs.
I only know
She's in those mountains,
In those deep clouds,
But I don't know where."

- Chia Tao (
Rain with snow. At table we read Chapter 2 of Tao Te Ching. How 'have' things and not feel you 'own' them? Do things without taking credit for their being done? Letting things come; letting things go?

Snow with rain.

This raw night
Following practice.