Nondual Highlights Issue #2482, Saturday, May 27, 2006
As Nagarjuna explains in the verse that Dromtonpa often recited:
"Acquiring material things or not acquiring them; happiness or unhappiness; interesting or uninteresting sounds; praise or criticism: these eight worldly dharmas are not objects of my mind. They are all the same to me."
It is easy to understand how it can be a problem not to acquire things, to be unhappy, to hear uninteresting sounds, to have a bad reputation, to be criticised. These are commonly recognised as problems. But you might not recognise acquiring things, having comfort and happiness, hearing interesting sounds, having a good reputation and being praised as problems. However, they are all the same; they are all problems.
But the object itself is not the problem. Having wealth is not the problem. So, what is the problem? The problem is the mind desiring and clinging to wealth - that is the problem. Having a friend is not the problem; the mind clinging to the friend makes having a friend a problem.
- Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Desire is the Source of all Problems, posted to DailyDharma
Dive into the Ocean. You're caught in your own pretentious beard like something you didn't eat. You're not garbage! Pearls want to be like you. You should be with them where waves and fish and pearls and seaweed and wind are all one. No linking, no hierarchy, no distinctions, no perplexed wondering, no speech. Beyond describing.
Either stay here and talk or go there and be silent. Or do both by turns. With those who see double, talk double talk. Make noise, beat a drum, think of metaphors! With Friends, say only mystery. Near roses, sing.
With deceptive people, cover the jar and shield it. But be calm with those in duality. Speak sweetly and reasonably Patience polishes and purifies.
-Rumi, Mathnawi VI, verses 2028-2041. version by Coleman Barks, from "Sheikh Kharranqani and His Wretched Wife", The Essential Rumi, posted to Sunlight
After Being In Love, The Next Responsibility
Turn me like a waterwheel turning a millstone. Plenty of water, a Living River. Keep me in one place and scatter the love. Leaf-moves in wind, straw drawn toward amber, all parts of the world are in love, but they do not tell their secrets. Cows grazing on a sacramental table, ants whispering in Solomon's ear. Mountains mumbling an echo. Sky, calm. If the sun were not in love, he would have no brightness, the side of the hill no grass on it. The ocean would come to rest somewhere.
Be a lover as they are, that you come to know you Beloved. Be faithful that you may know Faith. The other parts of the universe did not accept the next responsibility of love as you can. They were afraid they might make a mistake with it, the inspired knowing that springs from being in love
-Rumi, Furuzanfar #2674 translated by Coleman Barks, The Rumi Collection, posted to AlphWorld
Heron Rises from the Dark, Summer Pond So heavy is the long-necked,long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise when her smoke-colored wings open and she turns from the thick water,
from the black sticks of the summer pond, and slowly rises into the air and is gone.
Then, not for the first or the last time, I take the deep breath of happiness, and I think how unlikely it is
that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed back into itself -
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge, the turtle, the fallen gate.
And especially it is wonderful that the summers are long and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn't a miracle but the common thing, this decision, this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body into a new life:
see how the sudden gray-blue sheets of her wings strive toward the wind;
see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.
Mary Oliver, posted to Poetic_Mysticism
Once you have the View, although the delusory perceptions of samsara may arise in your mind, you will be like the sky; when a rainbow appears in front of it, it's not particularly flattered, and when the clouds appear, it's not particularly disappointed either. There is a deep sense of contentment. You chuckle from inside as you see the facade of samsara and nirvana; the View will keep you constantly amused, with a little inner smile bubbling away all the time.
- Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, quoted in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche, posted to DailyDharma
"Goddess of Small Things" by Helena Nelson-Reed, by kind permission
In the Words of the Artist: "Goddess of Small Things is about caring for seemingly insignificant creatures; mice, moles etc. There are so many worthy causes, but there are also less dramatic issues and situations we confront everyday and in our own lives, the one place where one can make a difference. On a deeper level its about compassion for all beings, including those right beneath our feet and that make us squeamish. Also, caring for oneself and the parts of oneself that feel 'unexceptional' or less than desirable."
In order to learn the nature of the myriad things,
you must know that although they may look round or square,
the other features of oceans and mountains
are infinite in variety;
whole worlds are there.
It is so not only around you,
but also directly beneath your feet, or in a drop of water.
--Genjo Koan From "Teachings of the Buddha," edited by Jack Kornfield, 1993
To Look at Any Thing
To look at any thing, If you would know that thing, You must look at it long: To look at this green and say, "I have seen spring in these Woods," will not do - you must Be the thing you see: You must be the dark snakes of Stems and ferny plumes of leaves, You must enter in To the small silences between The leaves, You must take your time And touch the very peace They issue from.
~ John Moffitt ~
(Teaching With Fire, edited by S. M. Intrator and M. Scribner)
When we trust with our open heart, whatever occurs, at the very moment that it occurs, can be perceived as fresh and unstained by the clouds of hope and fear. Chgyam Trungpa Rinpoche used the phrase "first thought, best thought" to refer to the first moment of fresh perception, before the colorful and coloring clouds of judgement and personal interpretation take over.
"First thought" is "best thought" because it has not yet got covered over by all our opinions and interpretations, our hopes and fears, our likes and dislikes. It is direct perception of the world as it is. Sometimes we discover "first thought, best thought" by relaxing into the present in a very simple way.
--Jeremy Hayward, in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol. IV, #3
My Chan teacher, who I met in southern China in 1978 was named Yen Why Shih. He was a Dharma heir of the Venerable Hsu Yun who died in 1959 at 119 years of age. Yen Why Shih was 84 in 1978.
Here is a wonderful Chan/Zen practice teaching from Hsu Yun:
"It is the unremitting turning of the light inwards on oneself, instant after instant and exclusive of all other things."
At another time he said :
"it is the turning of the light inward on that which is not born and does not die."
I would add: that the light that we turn inward to perceive with, is also that light as seen within...
posted to Dzogchen Practice
Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life. The only place where you can experience the flow of life is the Now, so to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation. It is to relinquish inner resistance to what is.
Everything is dependent on everything else, everything is connected, nothing is separate. Therefore everything is going in the only way it can go. If people were different everything would be different. They are what they are, so everything is as it is.
Mahamudra is beyond all words and symbols. But for you, Naropa, earnest and loyal, must this be said. The void needs no reliance; Mahamudra rests on naught. Not making any effort, but remaining loose and natural, one breaks the yoke thus gaining liberation.
I spent my days idly as a vine growing slowly in some holy place.
Then compassion came, and I saw the Absolute.
All the names are true, but I kept repeating that of my teacher, and OM.
And sometimes I sang Om Namah Shivaya, the greeting that gives peace to the world as well as to the spirit.
- Lalla 14th Century North Indian mystic
posted to Along the Way
Imagine yourself as a child lying on your back, gazing up into a cloudless sky, and blowing soap bubbles through a plastic ring. As a bubble drifts up into the sky, you watch it rise, and this brings your attention to the sky. While you are looking at the bubble, it pops, and you keep your attention right where the bubble had been. Your awareness now lies in empty space.
--B. Alan Wallace, "Tibetan Buddhism From the Ground Up"
Experiencing the Ground of Consciousness
People often confuse meditation with prayer, devotion, or vision. They are not the same. Meditation as a practice does not address itself to a deity or present itself as an opportunity for revelation. This is not to say that people who are meditating do not occasionally think they have received a revelation or experienced visions. They do. But to those for whom meditation is their central practice, a vision or a revelation is seen as just another phenomenon of consciousness and as such is not to be taken as exceptional.
The meditator simply experiences the ground of consciousness, and in doing so avoids excluding or excessively elevating any thought or feeling. To do this one must release all sense of the "I" as experiencer, even the "I" that might think it is privileged to communicate with the divine.
--Gary Snyder, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol.I, #1
The world is still full of divinity and strangeness, Mr. Shawnessy said. The scientist stops, where all men do, at the doors of birth and death. He knows no more than you and I why a seed remembers the oak of 20 million years ago, why dust acquires the form of a woman, why we behold the earth in space and time. He hasn’t yet solved the secret of a single name upon the earth. We may pluck the nymph from the river, but we won’t pluck the river from ourselves: this coiled divinity is still all murmurous and strange. There are sacred places everywhere. The world is still man’s druid grove, where he wanders hunting for the Tree of Life. --Ross Lockridge
If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves and of threatening ourselves with death.” --Pablo Neruda
photo by Sam Pasiencier, who just returned from Paris.
Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.
A certain businessman, renowned for his ruthlessness, once made a vow in Mark Twain's presence. "Before I die," he declared, "I mean to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I will climb Mount Sinai and read the Ten Commandments aloud at the top." "I have a better idea," Twain replied. "You could stay home in Boston and keep them."
We live at a time when man believes himself fabulously capable of creation, but he does not know what to create. Lord of all things, he is not lord of himself. He feels lost amid his own abundance. With more means at its disposal, more knowledge, more techniques than ever, it turns out that the world today goes the same way as the worst of worlds that have been: it simply drifts. --José Ortega y Gasset
For no reason I can explain, I began to discover how little it mattered where you are or what anyone does to you. I was sure that what I had done to get there [imprisoned for draft resistance] was right, and somehow the longer I was there, the better I felt. . . . I felt filled with love for everyone: everyone I knew and everyone I didn’t know; for plants, fish, animals; even bankers, generals, prison guards, and lying politicians — everything and everyone. Why did I feel so good? Was it God? Or approaching death? Or just the way life is supposed to be if we weren’t so busy trying to make it something else?
Nondual Highlights Issue #2486, Wednesday, May 31, 2006
You condemn yourself for being distracted. You notice the self condemnation. You return to the breathing.
- Bhanteji, posted to DailyDharma
The fire that iron or gold needs - would it be good for fresh quinces and apples? The apple and quince are just slightly raw; unlike iron, they need only a gentle heat. But gentle flames are not enough for iron; it eagerly draws to itself the fiery dragon's breath. That iron is the dervish who bears hardship: under the hammer and fire, he happily glows red.
-Rumi, Mathnawi II: 827-830, version by Camille and Kabir Helminski, from Rumi: Daylight, posted to Sunlight
Do not sit long with a sad friend. When you go to a garden, do you look at thorns or flowers? Spend more time with roses and jasmine.
- Rumi, version by Coleman Barks, from Open Secret, posted to AlongTheWay
Leave the familiar for a while. Let your senses and bodies stretch out
Like a welcomed season Onto the meadows and shores and hills... Open up to the Roof.
Like a blooming night flower, Bestow your vital fragrance of happiness And giving Upon our intimate assembly.
Change rooms in your mind for a day.
All the hemispheres in existence Lie beside an equator In your heart.
Greet Yourself In your thousand other forms As you mount the hidden tide and travel Back home.
All the hemispheres in heaven Are sitting around a fire Chatting
While stitching themselves together Into the Great Circle inside of You.
- Hafiz, translation Ladinsky, Hemispheres, posted to Poetic_Mysitcism
Little Summer Poem Touching the Subject of Faith
Every summer I listen and look under the sun's brass and even into the moonlight, but I can't hear
anything, I can't see anything - not the pale roots digging down, nor the green stalks muscling up, nor the leaves deepening their damp pleats,
nor the tassels making, nor the shucks, nor the cobs. And still, every day,
the leafy fields grow taller and thicker - green gowns lofting up in the night, showered with silk.
And so, every summer, I fail as a witness, seeing nothing - I am deaf too to the tick of the leaves,
the tapping of downwardness from the banyan feet - all of it happening beyond any seeable proof, or hearable hum.
And, therefore, let the immeasurable come. Let the unknowable touch the buckle of my spine. Let the wind turn in the trees, and the mystery hidden in the dirt
swing through the air. How could I look at anything in this world and tremble, and grip my hands over my heart? What should I fear?
One morning in the leafy green ocean the honeycomb of the corn's beautiful body is sure to be there.
- Mary Oliver, from West Wind: Poems and Prose Poems
"Twilight" by Helena Nelson-Reed, by kind permission.
Nondual Highlights Issue #2487, Thursday, June 1, 2006
Observe how the mind labels an unpleasant moment and how this labeling process, this continuous sitting in judgment, creates pain and unhappiness.
- Eckhart Tolle, from The Power of Now, posted to AlongTheWay
Listen to your heart, move according to your heart whatsoever the stake.
There is an inexpressible joy waiting for you deep within.
By resting and falling [in harmony with our own heart,]
we are able to connect and move into life
from a space of sweetness, playfulness, and intelligence.
Lau Tsu, posted to Poetic_Mysticism
Treading along in this dreamlike, illusory world, Without looking for the traces I may have left;
A cuckoo's song beckons me to return home - Hearing this, I tilt my head to see ...
Who has told me to run backwards; But do not ask me 'where' I am heading,
As I travel in this limitless world Where every step I take is my home.
- Kannshi verse, posted to Poetic_Mysticism
An instant realization 'sees' endless time ... Endless time is as one moment.
When one comprehends the endless moment He 'realizes' . . the 'person' who is 'seeing' it.
- Paul Reps, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, posted to Poetic_Mysticism
One night as I was sitting there under the full moon, I recognized that the rock that I was leaning on was me - "Oh, yeah, this is me; this rock is inside of me." Once I realized that about that rock, I saw the same was true of all the rocks in the huge field of boulders along the river’s edge. Then since the rocks were so obviously "me," the river was obviously "me" too, not just this stretch of the river but the entire Ganges from one end of India to the other. Very quickly, I saw that not just the river but the whole continent was "me." It struck me as obvious that it was all inside "me" - and then it was the whole world, and the whole solar system, the entire galaxy and universe. This kept going until the mind could not keep up. There was no longer any possibility of my mind containing all of this endless space, and yet it was all "me" in the same way that one of my limbs was "me."
Then there was a wonderful moment when "me" included not only infinity in terms of space but "popped" to include all time. It was obviously who I had always been, and it included all the past and all the future. Then I laughed and laughed and rolled around in the gravel because it was suddenly so silly that I had imagined myself to have suffered. I had always been so free that I was even free to have this illusion of not being free. That’s how complete the freedom is. So I just laughed and laughed.
The heron, unseen for weeks, came flying wide-winged toward me, settled just offshore on his post, took up his vigil. If you ask why this cleared a fog from my spirit, I have no answer. --Denise Levertov
Moses sees the bush as it actually is. . . . All that is living burns. This is the fundamental fact of nature. And Moses saw it with his own two eyes directly. That glimpse of the real world —of the world as it is known to God —is not a world of isolated things but of processes in concert. God tells Moses, "Take off your shoes, because the ground where you are standing is holy ground." He is asking Moses to experience in his own body what the burning bush experiences: a living connection between heaven and earth, the life that stretches out like taffy between our father the sun and our mother the earth. If you do not believe this, take off your shoes and stand in the grass or in the sand or in the dirt. --William Bryant Logan
I woke up in the middle of the night and climbed out of the tent to make coffee. There was no sound save the wind and, in all that space, not one light, just a scant new moon that hung in the sky like a fine silk thread. The twentieth century had vanished. I raised my cup in a toast. --Richard West
It is horrifying that we have to fight our government to save the environment. --Ansel Adams
I used to talk about running out of things and say, "No one believes we’re running out of anything. I think we’re running out of everything. We’re running out of out." Out is where my parents threw their garbage. You threw the garbage out. You can’t throw the garbage out anymore. Out is where your children are going to live, where your grandchildren are going to live. --Willard Gaylin
If I were to spit upon the revered black stone in Mecca during the height of the annual pilgrimage, I would be slain on the spot by enraged pilgrims for daring to profane the sacred symbol of Islam. An Israeli soldier’ bullet in the back would be my deserved fate for scrawling graffiti upon the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. . . . Life would not be pleasant for me if I took a hammer to the Pietà in the Vatican, for we humans hold our creations dear, and we deal harshly with those who fail to share our reverence for old stone walls, meteorites, marble statues, icons, and architecture. . . . Yet each and every day, humans enter the most sacred and reverential cathedrals of the natural world —the redwood forests of northern California or the rain forests of Amazonia —and each and every day we profanely rape these great mysteries with chain saws and bulldozers. --Paul Watson
Humankind —despite its artistic pretensions, its sophistication, and its many accomplishments —owes its existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains. --Source unknown
After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on —have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear —what remains? Nature remains. --William Wadsworth
Nondual Highlights Issue #2489, Saturday, June 3, 2006
May all the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and the MahaSattvas of all the great spiritual traditions, bless our Sangha and help us to:
protect all creatures, great and small; be a refuge for those who are hurting emotionally and physically; speak with a gentle tongue; give with a generous heart; listen with loving-kindness; see with the eyes of compassion; and hear the cries of those who ask for our help and the silent cries of those too afraid to ask.
With our sincere intentions and prayers, in whatever way we are able, may we bring: joy to those who are sad, wellness to those who are ill, peace to those in turmoil, and light to all who are in darkness.
And may we realize the Perfection of all beings' Buddha Nature, including our own.
With these intentions, our Sangha enters Practice Day!
- posted to DailyDharma
Wishing Prayer for the Attainment of the Ultimate Mahamudra
By The 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje
Namo Guru You Lamas, Yidams and Protectors of the power circles, You victorious Buddhas and your Bodhisattva sons of the ten directions and the three times, Think lovingly of us and give your blessings That our wishes may be fulfilled exactly as they are made.
Arising from the snow mountain of the perfectly pure thoughts and actions of ourselves and all beings, May the river of good deeds, unsullied by the concept of a separation into three, Flow into the ocean of the four Buddha-states.
Until that happens, may we, in all lifetimes, from one birth to the next, Never once hear the sound of pain or suffering, But instead experience oceans of radiant goodness and joy.
Having attained a free and fully endowed birth, A precious human life with confidence, diligence, and wisdom, Relying upon a spiritual teacher and receiving his Essential instructions, May we then practice the precious teachings without hindrance in this and all future lives.
Hearing the teachings frees us from the veils of ignorance. Contemplating the Oral instructions removes the darkness of doubt. The light arising from meditation makes clear the nature of mind, exactly as it is. May the light of these three wisdoms increase.
May we receive the flawless teachings, the foundation of which are the two truths Which are free from the extremes of eternalism and nihilism, And through the supreme path of the two accumulations, free from the extremes of negation and affirmation, May we obtain the fruit which is free from the extremes of either, Dwelling in the conditioned state or in the state of only peace.
The basis of purification is the mind itself in its union of clarity and emptiness. The method of purification is the great Mahamudra Diamond-practice. What is to be purified are the transitory illusory impurities. The fruit of the purification is the perfectly pure truth-state. May this become realized.
Overcoming doubts concerning the fundamental teaching gives trust in the view. Protecting this view without distraction is the essence of meditation. Correct meditation in itself is best behavior. May we trust the view, the meditation and the conduct.
All phenomena are projections of the mind. Mind is not a mind; the mind is empty in essence. Although empty, everything constantly arises in it. Through the deepest examination of the mind may we find its innermost root.
Self-manifestation, which has never existed as such, is erroneously seen as an object. Through ignorance, self-awareness is mistakenly experienced as an I. Through attachment to this duality we are caught in the conditioned world. May the root of confusion be found.
It is not existent for even the Buddhas do not see it. It is not non-existent, being the basis for both samsara and nirvana. It is not the opposites, nor both, nor something else, but rather their union - the middle way. May we realize the true nature of mind, which is beyond extremes.
It cannot be described by saying, It is. It cannot be denied by saying, It is not. The incomprehensible absolute reality is not composite. May we achieve certainty about the correctness of this ultimate meaning.
As long as this is not recognized, the wheel of existence turns. When this is understood, the state of Buddha is nothing other than that. There is nothing that can be described as either existing or not existing. May the nature of reality, the true nature of the Buddha mind, be recognized.
Appearance is only mind, emptiness is only mind, enlightenment is only mind, and confusion is only one's own mind. Arising is only mind; disappearance is only mind. May every doubt and hesitation that concerns the mind be overcome.
May we neither be sullied by forced intellectual meditation nor disturbed by the winds of everyday life. May we skillfully hold onto our practice concerning the nature of mind.
May the immovable ocean of meditative peace, Where the waves of subtle and gross thoughts come to rest through their own power, and Where the waters of the unmoving mind remain in themselves, Unspotted by laziness, sleepiness or unclarity, become stable.
If again and again we examine the mind, which cannot be examined, We see that which cannot be seen, with total clarity, just as it is. May the faultless mind, freed from all doubts about being and not being, recognize itself.
Through the examination of external objects we see the mind, not the objects. Through the examination of the mind we see its empty essence, but not the mind. Through the examination of both, attachment to duality disappears by itself. May the clear light, the true essence of mind, be recognized.
Being without intellectual concepts, it is called the Great Sign, or Mahamudra. Being without extremes, it is called the Great Middle Way, or Madhyamika. As it embraces everything, it is called the Great Perfection, or Maha-Ati. May we have the confidence that the experience of one is the experience of the meaning of all.
May we constantly and effortlessly experience the never-ending highest joy, which is without attachment, The clear light that is without categories or veils of obscuration, and The spontaneous, concept-free state that is beyond intellect.
Attachment to pleasant experiences vanishes of its own accord. Illusory and negative thoughts are in their essence pure, like space. In that simple state of mind there is nothing that must be given up or developed, avoided or attained. May the truth of the uncomplicated nature of reality be realized.
Although the true nature of beings is always the Buddha essence, Still we always wander in the ceaseless wheel of life, not understanding that. May infinite compassion arise for the limitless suffering of all beings.
Although this infinite compassion is strong and unceasing, The truth of its empty nature arises nakedly the very moment it appears. This union of emptiness and compassion is the highest faultless way. May we meditate inseparable from it, the whole time, day and night.
May we attain the state of Buddha through maturity, realization, and completion, And develop beings through divine eyes and clear sight arising through the power of meditation. May we realize the Buddha fields and fulfill the wishing prayer of the perfection of the Buddha qualities.
You Buddhas and Bodhisattvas from the ten directions, Through your compassion and through the power of all the pure and good that exists, May the pure wishing prayers of ourselves and all beings be fulfilled, Just as they were made.
This is what should be done By one who is skilled in goodness, And who knows the path of peace: Let them be able and upright, Straightforward and gentle in speech, Humble and not conceited, Contented and easily satisfied, Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways, Peaceful and calm, and wise and skilful, Not proud and demanding in nature. Let them not do the slightest thing That the wise would later reprove. Wishing: In gladness and in safety, May all beings be at ease. Whatever living beings there may be; Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none, The great or the mighty, medium, short or small, The seen and the unseen, Those living near and far away, Those born and to-be-born - May all beings be at ease!
Let none deceive another, Or despise any being in any state. Let none through anger or ill-will Wish harm upon another. Even as a mother protects with her life Her child, her only child, So with a boundless heart Should one cherish all living beings; Radiating kindness over the entire world: Spreading upwards to the skies, And downwards to the depths; Outwards and unbounded, Freed from hatred and ill-will. Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down Free from drowsiness, One should sustain this recollection. This is said to be the sublime abiding. By not holding to fixed views, The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision, Being freed from all sense desires, Is not born again into this world.
- The Buddha, Sutta-Nipata I, 8
"New Dove" by Helena Nelson-Reed, by kind permission
Everything is impermanent, except the love of God.
It's better to see God in everything than to try to figure it out.
-- Neem Karoli Baba
Xan posted on MillionPaths
When you dwell in stillness, the judging mind can come through like a foghorn. "I don't like the pain in my knee...This is boring...I like this feeling of stillness; I had a good meditation yesterday, but today I'm having a bad meditation...It's not working for me. I'm no good at this. I'm no good, period..." This type of thinking dominates the mind and weighs it down. It's like carrying around a suitcase full of rocks on your head. It feels good to put it down. Imagine how it might feel to suspend all your judging and instead to let each moment be just as it is, without attempting to evaluate it as "good" or "bad." This would be a true stillness, a true liberation. Meditation means cultivating a non-judging attitude toward what comes up in the mind, come what may.
--Jon Kabat-Zinn, from Wherever You Go, There You Are
Two Activities: One at the Beginning, One at the End
At the beginning of your day when you wake up, express your aspiration: "May I practice the three difficulties. May I see what I do. When it happens, may I do something different, and may that be a way of life for me." At the beginning of your day, using your own language, you could encourage yourself to keep your heart open, to remain curious no matter how difficult things get. Then at the end of the day when you're just about to go to sleep, review the day. Rather than using what happened as ammunition for feeling bad about yourself, about how the whole day went by and you never once remembered what you had aspired to do in the morning, you can simply use it as an opportunity to get to know yourself better and to see all the funny ways in which you trick yourself, all the ways in which you're so good at zoning out and shutting down. If you feel like you don't want to practice the three difficulties anymore because it's like setting yourself up for failure, generate a kind heart toward yourself. Reflecting over just one day's activities can be painful, but you may end up respecting yourself more, because you see that a lot happened; you weren't just one way.
As Carl Jung said at the end of his life, "I am astonished, disappointed, pleased with myself. I am distressed, depressed, rapturous. I am all these things at once and cannot add up the sum."
From Start Where You Are : A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chodron, Copyright 1994, Shambhala Publications.
To take refuge in the Buddha means acknowledging the seed of enlightenment that is within ourselves, the possibility of freedom. It also means taking refuge in those qualities which the Buddha embodies; qualities like fearlessness, wisdom, love and compassion.
Taking refuge in the Dharma means taking refuge in the law, in the way things are; it is acknowledging our surrender to the truth, allowing the Dharma to unfold within us.
Taking refuge in the Sangha means taking support in the community, in all of us helping one another towards enlightenment and freedom.
--Joseph Goldstein, in The Experience of Insight from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book
To take refuge in the Buddha is to take refuge in someone who let go of holding back just as you can do. To take refuge in the dharma is to take refuge in all the teachings that encourage you and nurture your inherent ability to let go of holding back. And to take refuge in the sangha is to take refuge in the community of people who share this longing to let go and open rather than shield themselves.
The support that we give each other as practitioners is not the usual kind of samsaric support in which we all join the same team and complain about someone else. It's more that you're on your own, completely alone, but it's helpful to know that there are forty other people who are also going through this all by themselves. That's very supportive and encouraging. Fundamentally, even though other people can give you support, you do it yourself, and that's how you grow up in this process, rather than becoming more dependent.
"The continual stream of new discovery, revelation and inspiration which arises at every moment is the manifestation of our clarity. We should learn to see everyday life as mandala - the luminous fringes of experience which radiate spontaneously from the empty nature of our being. The aspects of our mandala are the day-to-day objects of our life experience moving in the dance or play of the universe. By this symbolism, the inner teacher reveals the profound and ultimate significance of being. Therefore we should be natural and spontaneous, accepting and learning from everything.
...Simply plunging directly into meditation in the moment now, with our whole being, free from hesitation, boredom or excitement, is enlightenment."
The only reason a great many American families don’ t own an
elephant is that they have never been offered an elephant for
a dollar down and easy weekly payments.
A Brief Digression Into Nothing
In his book The Globalization of Nothing, sociologist George Ritzer argues that we live in a world increasingly shaped by "nothing," which he defines as "centrally conceived and controlled social forms that are comparatively devoid of distinctive substantive content." In other words,"nothing" is anything without a personality and life of its own -- a demented mirror image of the Zen concept of nothing, which is just as real and present as something. In Zen we turn nothing into something; in modern, corporate American life, we turn something into nothing. Ritzer describes four types of nothing: nonthings, nonpeople, nonservices, and nonplaces. Nonthings are Old Navy T-shirts, Arizona-brand bluejeans, and Nike athletic shoes. They are exactly the same no matter what mall you buy them in, in a red state or a blue, and you always pay the same price. (From a corporate perspective, that is about all there is to say about the red-blue difference.) Nonpeople are counter workers at Burger King, or telemarketers who call at dinnertime. These are real people who become nonpeople when they enact scripted encounters with customers (or potential customers), who in turn become nonpeople by participating in the script. Corporations created these nonpeople when they created the nonjobs they occupy. ATMs and websites are examples of nonservices. And finally there are nonplaces, best represented by shopping malls and Las Vegas casinos. Of them we can say, as Gertrude Stein said of her hometown of Oakland, California, "There's no there there." (No offense to Oakland, which is no more or less a nonplace than any other contemporary city.) Imagine a hypothetical casino built on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. This casino, if built, would have a real presence: It would be a building. It would sit atop dry sage grasslands at the foot of the Wind River Mountains, on land saturated with the history of the Arapaho and Shoshones, and later the bloody arrival of the Europeans and their drive to eradicate the native people. The ghosts of 60 million buffaloes paw at this earth, making the dust rise. In distant boarding schools, chalk dust hovers in the air above the desks where Indian children sit mute, forbidden to speak their own languages. Scraps of paper -- torn-up treaties or lost food-stamp coupons -- blow in the wind. A white rancher who owns a chunk of the reservation drives by the casino in a late-model pickup. In the distance a dust devil blows across the sun-dance site, where native men honor forces larger than themselves by swinging on the ends of tethers hooked into their chests until the hooks pull out, taking small chunks of flesh with them. Then there's the casino itself, which would be like any other casino in Las Vegas or Reno or Monte Carlo. Even if the cocktail waitresses were tribal members dressed in beaded moccasins with their hair braided into shining black strands, it would not be Indian. When casino workers punch out, do they return to being real people? Do we all live a portion of our lives as real people and another portion as nonpeople? Do we spend more time as nonpeople in 2006 than our ancestors did in 1906 or 1806? In our private lives, we spend relatively little time as nonpeople. Yet, even in private, I know what it means to have a scripted encounter with another person. I've caught myself playing a part -- saying and doing only what my institutional role allows. The nonthing is distant and abstract. It shies away from human feeling and connection. We live in a world where we are made into nonpeople so we can be manipulated by the advocates of global uniformity. In this nonworld we are apt to end up with our heads bowed in a church whose appearance is eerily similar to that of a corporate headquarters or a state prison. These are the universal features of the society in which we live, equally common in red and blue states. When I first started working with my father-in-law on his windmills, I'd often bring the wrong part for a repair, or forget an essential tool. We'd end up having to go back to the barn, or even into town, to get what we needed. My father-in-law, a lifelong Republican, would come with me, both because there was little work he could do on the mills alone and because he liked to talk. I loved listening to him tell the history of the ranch and the early Basque settlers in northern Wyoming. One day when we had to go to town, my father-in-law did something I'd seen him do many times before, though I'd never said anything about it: he parked his pickup and got out, leaving the doors unlocked, the windows down, and the keys in the ignition. This time I spoke up. "Don't you want to take the keys?" I asked. "No. What if somebody has an emergency and needs to get to the hospital or something? This way, they can take the pickup if they need to." I have thought many times of his answer:
What if somebody needed the pickup? This way, they could use it
in an emergency. The last car I bought was a Volkswagen Beetle with a diesel engine. For the first few months I had it, the battery kept going dead. The local mechanics couldn't find anything wrong and recharged the battery a number of times, but it kept dying. Finally I went back to the dealer, 165 miles away, where I learned that when you turn the car off, you have to lock it or the electrical system will keep running and the battery will go dead. No amount of explanation by the congenial VW service representatives could make me understand why it was to my advantage to have to lock my car whenever I got out of it. Every time I go to the garage to get something out of the car or put something in it, I forget to bring the keys, and back to the house I go. What kind of society won't allow the owner of a car to decide whether or not to lock it? (end of excerpt)
Wildness and silence disappeared from the countryside, sweetness fell from the air, not because anyone wished them to vanish or fall but because throughways had to floor the meadows with cement to carry the automobiles which advancing technology produced. . . . Tropical beaches turned into high-priced slums where thousand-room hotels elbowed each other for glimpses of once-famous surf not because those who loved the beaches wanted them there but because enormous jets could bring a million tourists every year — and therefore did. --Archibald MacLeish
It’s a popular fact that 90 percent of the brain is not used and, like most popular facts, it is wrong. . . . It is used. One of its functions is to make the miraculous seem ordinary, to turn the unusual into the usual. Otherwise, human beings, faced with the daily wondrousness of everything, would go around wearing a stupid grin, saying, “Wow,” a lot. Part of the brain exists to stop this from happening. It is very efficient, and can make people experience boredom in the middle of marvels. --Terry Pratchett
When seeing a new place, I often think: I am going to come back here later — when I am rich, or when I have more time, or when I have a purpose, or when I am with someone I love — and do this right. But it is a self-deception. More often than not, my feet lead me somewhere new rather than somewhere I have already been. And as I sat at that window watching the train bore through the heart of China, I had a different, more probable thought: I’d better remember what this place looks like. I will never be back. --Brad Newsham
Perhaps the most radical thing we can do is to stay home, so we can learn the names of the plants and animals around us; so that we can begin to know what tradition we’re part of. --Terry Tempest Williams
Will you ever bring a better gift for the world than the breathing respect that you carry wherever you go right now? --William Stafford
We still do not know one-thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us. --Albert Einstein
I am an orb of hail that has just hit the ocean having cast ripples on an evanescent wave or two softly floating on the salty surface due to melt back into its source unhurriedly
~ ~ ~
margo's metaphysical diet tips (depravation is unnecessary)
give up the comparing yourself to others game
make food choices around wanting to be healthy instead of because your butt is too wide, etc.
reject diet trends and newspaper advice on what to eat
each of us has different nutritonal needs there is no one "healthy diet" that will work for everyone figure out what natural foods make your unique body feel good
sit down, relax, chew slowly, and enjoy each bite with your full attention when you eat
stop thinking of your favourite "bad" foods as "junk food" and instead think of them as "treats" enjoy each bite do not feel guilty after (relax, Heaven says no dessert is actually "sinful")
and most importantly stop thinking about what's wrong with your body start loving it with an attitude of gratitude and watch it respond
Does Mind Over Body Healing Work?" http://www.mindpowernews.com/MindHealing.htm Diseases are burdens on biology. Human intellect and human body organs are integral parts of the human condition. To separate them, as Socrates lamented, is to negate the completeness of the human condition.
Our technology has rendered irrelevant the debate on the psychosomatic and somatopsychic nature of diseases. Advances in behavioural biology and experimental psychology have put these two disciplines on a collision course; a complete merger between the two is simply a matter of time.
i watched this movie tonight. it is now available on dvd. i recommend it. his blog as well as related links are quite worth exploring.
as i have been involved with activism around many of these issues for a long time, it was not as new as for some viewers, yet, it is a beautiful whole. and certainly there are many images and people i have never experienced in person nor have most humans on this planet.
i like a review that was written by a viewer called jay on october 2005. he wanted to pass on the message of the film. i put it at the end. he has an innocence and optimism gained from his experience watching that is heartwarming.
In a world teetering on the edge of self-destruction, award-winning filmmaker Velcrow Ripper sets out on a unique pilgrimage. Visiting the 'Ground Zeros' of the planet, he asks if it's possible to find hope in the darkest moments of human history.
ScaredSacred deftly weaves together stunning footage with haunting memories, inspirational stories, and an evocative soundscape. An exquisite portrait of a search for meaning in times of turmoil.
* * * * * "Remarkably moving, strikingly beautiful and surprisingly hopeful... Ripper's startling images of destruction and resiilience often arrive so unexpectedly that you're kept on the edge of your seat. The film looks at disputes without rhetoric, providing testimonials that will break your heart. But nothing that happens here will break the human spirit. Anyone who sees this movie will be the better for it." David Spaner, The Province
* * * * "Spectacular... an inspirational message of human compassion." Janis Cole, NOW Magazine
* * * * "Provocative... transcendent... mesmerizing... astonishing!" Bruce Kirkland, Toronto SUN
"An inspiring, beautiful film that left an indelible impact on me." -- Daryl Hannah, Actor/Activist
"ScaredSacred conveys a sense of spirit and longing, harnessed with a compassionate sense of urgency." -- Atom Egoyan
"One of the most cathartic and powerful films I have ever seen. It literally changed my life and sense of spirituality." -- Rene Broussard, Director, New Orleans International Human Rights Film Festiva
-Jay's review taken from blog entries at the site.
All I ask is that you take 2 minutes to read what I have to say. I know I've asked a lot of my friends and my family lately with my fundraiser, but I saw this documentary yesterday, and I really think you should see it as well. I know I already sent the trailer to some of you already, but the only way the message will be spread is if people go to watch this film in theatre. The better this film does in terms of box office numbers, than the more cinemas and cities it will be playing at. It is definitely worth the $10. Please read what I wrote:
On his five year expedition to the `Ground Zeros' around the world, Velcrow Ripper explores stories about the mid-1980s pesticide plant explosion in India; the minefields of Cambodia; the civil war in Bosnia; the A-Bomb explosion in Hiroshima; Tibetan's trapped in Pakistan; a women's rights protest in Afghanistan; the on-going Israeli-Palestine conflict; and ultimately and arguably the most shocking ground zero in New York City. Ripper's five year journey explores whether or not humanity can transform the `scared' into the `sacred.'
During the post screening Q&A at the Carlton Cinemas, I asked Velcrow what was his inspiration for taking up a challenge like this? He simply stated how he realized he could use the media as a tool to send a message. This film clearly does send a message, and cleverly opens our minds and our hearts as he uses the media as a tool for creating social change. This film puts a lot of things into perspective and makes us `westerners' realize how miniscule our problems really are. As I sat there and watched the film in disbelief, discomfort, and sorrow I thought to myself: Once this film is over, how can I do my part to help shape this world of ours? As the credits started playing everyone promptly started clapping and I realized: He didn't create this documentary to make us `westerners' feel sorry for living the lives we do, he simply created it to show us that we are the ones with the opportunity to create social change. The impression Velcrow leaves the audience is one of complete gratitude for taking five years of his life to uncover what is really happening in the world around us. As a lot of people in Canada and the US are unaware or perhaps uninterested in the problems going on around the world, this film will make even the most narrow-minded individuals realize how fortunate we really are.
One story in particular that really touched me was that of Aki Ra who, as a child soldier, was forced to lay landmines in the jungles of Cambodia. As a young boy he lost his family to murder, and was told that if he cried or questioned the military's authority, he would die as well. So he went about his business and in order to live his life he laid landmines. Today, Aki still walks the jungles he once did as a child, except his purpose now is to disarm the landmines he once laid as a kid. He walks around with a simple wooden stick and disarms about 15 to 100 landmines any given day. He sees himself as being lucky to be alive and is doing everything in his power to rid his land of these deadly devices.
I now look back and say to myself: Will I think twice the next time I walk out my door and onto the street, as those in Bosnia were afraid of doing for four years? Will I watch my step wondering if I will accidentally trigger a landmine, as the people in Cambodia do everyday? Will I be afraid to pull out my MP3 player and listen to the music I love? Of course not, because in Canada we have the luxury of living the life that a lot of people around the world could only dream of. Will I do my part to help create social change? I know I will try my best, and hopefully this is the message that everyone takes with them as they exit the theatres. I look forward to watching the sequels to this wonderfully crafted film, and I will start my bid to create social change by convincing my family and friends to go watch this documentary. I would like to thank Velcrow for putting this piece together and opening my mind even further than it already is.
If you like what I had to say, you can check out the listing times as well as the trailer on the website www.scaredsacred.org. If you don't agree with the purpose of the film, or are not interested, at least forward this to everyone on your list as perhaps someone else will be interested. Its' playing in Vancouver as well, so Crystal please spread the word as I know you will like this film.
Reviewed by Daniela Rommel
A Special Forces veteran and award-winning author has published a new book opposing the war on terrorism.
William T. Hathaway's SUMMER SNOW is a spiritual novel set in Central Asia as an American warrior falls in love with a Sufi mystic and learns from her an alternative to the military mentality.
The book's wisdom figure is an aged Sufi woman, the warrior's lover's teacher, who has survived by outsmarting male dominated political and religious hierarchies. "This bin Laden, this Bush, all these leading men, they have highjacked us all with their violence," she states. "They have turned the whole world into their suicide airplane. These men are too primitive to have such power. Too ignorant of the underlying reality. We must stop them. We must take the boys' toys away from them...these terrible weapons."
How she does that becomes the climax of the novel. Its theme is that higher consciousness is more effective than violence and that women may be more able than men to lead us there.
"I think that to prevent war we need to raise human consciousness," Hathaway says. "A look at the history of revolutions shows that switching economic and political systems isn't enough. The same aggressive personality types take over and start another army. We have to change the basic unit, the individual.
"I've found Eastern meditation to be the most effective way to change people. Unlike psychotherapy or prayer, it works on the physiological level, altering the brain waves and metabolism. It refines the nervous system and expands the awareness so that the unity of all human beings becomes a living reality, not just an idealistic concept.
"After a while of meditation people stop wanting to consume things that increase aggression, such as meat, alcohol, and violent entertainment. They become more peaceful.
"I think it's very true that peace begins within you. As Gandhi said, 'We have to become the change we want to see in the world.'"
In writing SUMMER SNOW, Hathaway drew on his experiences during a year and a half in Central Asia.
He now supports counter-recruitment work to persuade young people not to join the military. He is active in a group encouraging soldiers to refuse service in Iraq and Afghanistan. For those who want to desert, they have a sanctuary network that helps them build new lives. "Refusing or deserting the military takes great courage, and I'm full of admiration for the people who do it. If convicted, they're punished viciously because they're such a threat to the government's power. They're the real heroes," the combat-decorated Special Forces veteran states.
Hathaway's first anti-war novel, A WORLD OF HURT, won a Rinehart Foundation Award. Both it and SUMMER SNOW explore the attraction that war has for men and how they can be healed of the pathology of patriarchal machismo.
"Many men are psychologically draw to the military because of blocked libido and the need for paternal approval," says the ex-Green Beret. "In my writing I'm trying to uncover these inner roots of war, the forces that so persistently drive us to slaughter. Our culture has degraded masculinity into a deadly toxin. It's poisoned us all. Men have to confront this part of themselves before men and women together can heal it. I was lucky to have found a partner skilled at this.
"Understanding the effects that our culturally imposed gender roles have on us is crucial to understanding why we make war. One attraction of war is that it is a substitute for eroticism; it is the ultimate sexual perversion. It also reduces our ability to love."
Hathaway also wrote the introduction to AMERICA SPEAKS OUT: Collected Essays from Dissident Writers and has published numerous articles. His writing won him a Fulbright professorship at universities in Germany, where he currently lives.
Nondual Highlights Issue #2493, Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Didn't I Say?
Didn't I say, "Don't go there; I am your friend. In this mirage of existence, I am the fountain of life."
Even if your anger takes you a hundred thousand years away, in the end you will return, for I am your goal.
Didn't I say, "Don't be content with earthly forms; I am the designer of the intimate chamber of your contentment."
Didn't I say, "I am the sea, and you are a single fish; don't strand yourself on dry land; I am your clear sea."
Didn't I say, "Don't get caught in the trap like a helpless bird; I am the power of flight - your feet and your wings."
Didn't I say, "They will waylay you and make you cold; I am the fire and your warm desire."
Didn't I say, "They will implant their qualities in you until you forget that the best qualities are here."
Didn't I say, "You do not know from what direction your affairs are put in order."
I am the Creator beyond directions. If light is in your heart, find your way home. If you are of God, know your Benefactor.
- Rumi, Ghazal 1725, from the Diwan-e Shams, version by Kabir Edmund Helminski, Love is a Stranger, posted to Sunlight
In the morning when you wake up, visualize the Buddha on the crown of your head and think, "How fortunate I am that so far I have not died. Again today I have the opportunity to practice the Dharma.
I again have the opportunity to take the essence of this human rebirth which has so many freedoms and richnesses.
The great essence to be taken from this opportunity is to practice bodhicitta, the mind that is dedicated to attaining enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, by renouncing myself and cherishing others."
- Lama Zopa Rinpoche, posted to DailyDharma
There can be no Self-realized person because where Self-realization is, the difference between self and others has disappeared and along with it the doership and identity of the individual pseudo-personality.
- Ramesh S. Balsekar, A Net of Jewels, posted to AlongTheWay
You can't hide the sun with two fingers.
- Afghan proverb, posted to AlphaWorld
One is all - all are One.
When you 'realize' this What reason for 'holiness?' Or 'wisdom?'
The mind of absolute trust is 'beyond' all thought ... all striving .
And is perfectly at peace. For in it .. there is ...
no 'Yesterday' ... no 'Today' ... no 'Tomorrow' ...
- Sent-Ts'an, translation by Stephen Mitchell, from The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry, posted to Poetic_Mysticism
Embracing the oneness, you become embraced. Supple, breathing gently, you become reborn.
Clearing your vision, you become clear. Nurturing your people, you become impartial.
Opening your heart, you become accepted. Accepting the World, you embrace the oneness.
Bearing and nurturing, Creating but not owning, Giving without demanding, Managing without authority, This is love.
Three articles in this issue. One from the Buddhist perspective by Greg Goode on opening the curtain to the "natural, peaceful, in the manner of all things...."
That theme carries into the next article by Joe Bollig which is on the spiritual of farming from the Catholic viewpoint: "Farm spirituality begins with a deep appreciation for creation. The farmer does not create the land, or control the weather, or give life to the seeds he plants or the animals he raises - it’s all God, farmers say."
Finally, a selection from the travel blog of Chuck Hillig in which he doesn't say anything about God or nature but simply reports from Boracay, the Phillipines: "The water near the shore is a brilliant turquoise and it laps gently onto the spotless white beach that stretches for several miles."
(From Nondual Philosophy list (NDP), message 14979, 4/25/2006)
Q:How's about a bit of Madhyamikan analysis on "brain"? Or start with "body".
A:We can go right for the brain, since this seems to be brain and existence day at NDP!
In Madhyamika, suffering is a result of the conception of inherent existence.The stickiest thing we think exists inherently is the self.But trying to investigate its inherent existence is more subtle and emotionally charged than doing the investigation about other objects, such as teacups and chariots.So you begin by doing the other objects first.
So we can do the brain.
It's called ultimate analysis or analytical meditation.Its goal is to refute the object called inherent existence, thus eliminating the psychological notional/feeling complex of inherent existence.
So the purpose of the meditation is to reduce the conception of inherent existence of the brain.There are several steps
1.Try to get a really strong sense of the inherent existence of the brain.How it exists by itself.Existing by itself means (i) existing independently of all its components (ii) existing independently of all causes and conditions (iii) existing independently of all awareness
If we look into our naive sense of existence, this is just how we think things do exist.In the West, this kind of thinking was inherited from Plato via Judeo-Christian culture and Kant, Locke, and more recently, science.We think that aspects in (i)-(iii) are tangential to the real brain.These are relations to the brain but not the brain in and of itself.
This kind of inherent existence is the opposite of dependent arising.
2.Try to get a sense of the entailment.That is, see how if it exists like we think, then it should be findable, identifiable.If it is not findable, then it doesn't exist in the way we think.
3.Look very hard for the brain apart from all the aspects in (i)- (iii).In other words, we look for the brain, not the frontal lobe. We look for the brain, not the blood vessels leading in and out of the brain.We look for the brain, not the sight/feeling/idea/concept of the brain.There are very thoroughgoing methods of doing this, like Chandrikirti's Chariot meditation.
4. We fail to find the brain untouched by anything in (i)-(iii).
5. Our sense of inherent existence of the brain, which depended upon the notion that the brain truly existed apart from (i)-(iii), is shattered.We see that there is nothing to the brain *other than* dependent arisings.When we see this about the self, then its coming and going, birth, old age and death, will not seem like a violation of the order of the universe.Comings and goings won't be an outrage or unfair or a suffering thing.But rather natural, peaceful, in the manner of all things....
Farm spirituality: One in purpose with the Creator
By Joe Bollig 6/6/2006
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (The Leaven) - Prayer comes easily to Maurice Buessing when he’s alone, out on his land, farming.
The parishioner of St. Michael Parish in Axtell said that he can’t help but see the hand of God in his work and when he follows God’s will by taking care of his crops and the soil. Farming, he said, is good for feeling close to God. Annette Burton, a member of St. Malachy Parish at Beattie, feels much the same way.
“The special thing we have is that we’re out on the land, and we can see [God] in every aspect - the animals around us, the crops growing, the birds and the flowers, and the rain,” said Burton, who operates a family farm with her husband, Ron.
And when Burton prays, “The Lord is my shepherd,” she understands, from firsthand experience, exactly what that means.
“We had a man who lived near us who owned a flock of sheep, so one day I went over there to see how the shepherd relates to sheep, how it compared with the Scriptures,” she said. “It was awesome to see how his little sheep raised their heads when he called them in. It went exactly along with the parables.”
Farm spirituality begins with a deep appreciation for creation. The farmer does not create the land, or control the weather, or give life to the seeds he plants or the animals he raises - it’s all God, farmers say.
This is not to imply that other spheres of life - the school, the factory, and the office - lack spirituality.
In fact, said Buessing, “I think your relationship with God doesn’t have a whole lot to do with your occupation.”
Still, the nature and purpose of farming creates opportunities and an awareness of creation that might not be present in other circumstances.
In fact, it puts nature - and its vagaries - at the very center of your working life. That has the result of making one aware of one’s dependence on God in a way that sometimes others can forget for months or years at a time.
It also has a way of building community - making you rely on and appreciate your neighbors to an extent that was more common in Gospel times than it is today. Farming creates a natural community of interdependent souls, whose responsibility to their crops, their animals, their neighbors and the land itself is the very expression of their faith and is lived out in the ethos of good stewardship. Farming produces a fundamental human good - food, without which no one could live.
The National Catholic Rural Life Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, recently conducted a series of listening sessions entitled “Women, Land and Legacy.” These sessions, directed to women who own and farm land, discovered a deep spirituality.
“When we asked women about their connections to the land, a series of values came up,” said Carol Richardson Smith, director of the Direction Rural Community Support Program. “God, prayer and stewardship were very high ranking values of all the items, the most often mentioned.”
Further down the list were the related ones of hope, love, healing, and wisdom.
Father Richard McDonald, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Sabetha, Kan., St. Augustine in Fidelity, Kan., and St. James at Wetmore, Kan.,has noticed the deep spirituality of his farming families.
“I think there is a real awareness of the need for dependence on God that you don’t see so easily in the city or suburbs, when your lives depend on how God directs the seasons and weather,” said Father McDonald.
He can see this deeply held belief in God and his bountifulness through the people’s Mass attendance, their prayer life, and eucharistic devotion. His parishioners also exhibit strong feelings of community through their pride in their parishes and the way they help their neighbors. He also sees a eucharistic subtext: Without the wheat they grow, there could be no bread for the Eucharist.
Parables that Christ told, as recorded in the Gospels, often use images taken from agriculture.
“It all goes back to God,” said Father McDonald. “It all has to do with nature, which is not man-made, but [which is] divinely established, divinely ordained.”
Through farming, one can gain an awareness that God directs creation not only to produce the bounty of the earth for the physical life of humans, but also as a way to teach his love and goodness.
Rural spirituality is grounded in practicality and reality, added Father Owen Purcell, a longtime rural pastor, now sacramental minister to St. Mary Parish in St. Benedict.
“I was giving marriage instruction to a young engaged couple and asked what they would be doing early Saturday night after the instruction,” he said. “They said that while there was still daylight, they were going to build another lamb pen!”
Like the eucharistic subtext noted by Father McDonald, Father Owen sees many spiritual connections between rural life and the Catholic faith.
“Farmers work together for self and neighbor in an atmosphere that encourages, respects and depends on community,” he said. “Of course, our Christian and so, Trinitarian, spirituality is based on the loving community of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The rural approach is very concretely so.”
The planting, growing and harvesting seasons blend with the liturgical seasons. The realities of life and death - those of crops, animals, and even family members - touch upon the truths taught about death and resurrection. A rain that falls on the just and unjust is never refused, but accepted. The sacraments of baptism, confirmation, Eucharist and matrimony are grand occasions of celebration for families and the whole parish.
“A farmer has to trust,” said Father Thomas Dolezal, a former rural pastor, now pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa, Kan. “They go out there and invest their whole lives in their crops, and they trust God to bring that crop to its fulfillment. I see a farmer as really being able to touch God in a way no one else can through that trust and creativeness they share with the Lord.”
Early Monday morning, I flew south from Manila down to Boracay, about 90 minutes by plane. I had first learned about this place from Gino and, when I checked it out further, it seemed like it would be an ideal place to kick back for a few days before flying off to Hong Kong. You first fly to a town called Caticlan and then you have to take a tuk-tuk to the docks to catch an outrigger for the 20-minute boat ride over to Boracay Island. Since the boat has to anchor a bit offshore, they have local guys who, quite literally, carry you and your luggage on their shoulders through the water and then deposit you safely on the sand. (All for a price, of course.) The island is famous for its pristine beaches and, indeed it truly lives up to its reputation. The main part of the island (appropriately called White Beach) is well-known for all kinds of water sports: sailing, scuba diving, snorkling, parasailing, swimming and, especially extreme wind surfing. There is an ongoing balmy breeze that flows onshore and, I understand, they have international competition for windsurfers held here every year. The water near the shore is a brilliant turquoise and it laps gently onto the spotless white beach that stretches for several miles. The beach itself is between 50 and 100 feet in width. After that, it's lined with an long section of palm trees and other tropical vegetation that's about 20 feet deep and is often surrounded with foot-high bamboo fences. Right next to this green area is a 25-foot wide walkway of white sand that stretches for miles in both directions to handle the steady pedestrian traffic. On the side that's away from the water, this walkway is lined with shops, picturesque hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, etc. that cater to the many tourists. Among the vegetation, enterprising sellers have erected makeshift stands and are hawking necklaces, postcards, sunglasses, massages, etc. There are also little pedal-driven bicycles with passenger sidecars that transport the weary walkers from one end of the beach to the other...all for about 7 pesos. At night, I imagine that this walkway will become a fairyland of colorful lights, music, and enticing smells coming from the wide variety of restaurants. More later as it unfolds....
Archived issues of the NDHighlights are available online:
Nondual Highlights Issue #2495, Saturday, June 10, 2006
...the source of true happiness lies in our mind and heart, not in
possessions, others' actions, praise, reputation, and so forth. But
we must examine this for ourselves, so the Buddha asked us to
observe our own experiences to see what causes happiness and what
For example, we have all had the experience of waking up on the
wrong side of the bed. Nothing in particular happened to cause us to
be in a bad mood; we simply feel lousy. But, interestingly, just on
those days we feel grumpy, we encounter so many uncooperative and
Just on the day we want to be left alone, so many obnoxious people
descend upon us! Suddenly, the way our spouse smiles appears
sarcastic, and our colleague's "Good morning" seems manipulative.
Even our pet dog no longer seems to love us! When our boss remarks
on our work, we take offense. When our friend reminds us to do
something, we accuse him of being controlling. When someone turns in
front of us on the road, it feels they are deliberately provoking us.
On the other hand, when we are in a good mood, even if our colleague
gives us some negative criticism on a project, we can put it in
perspective. When our professor asks us to redo a paper, we
understand her reasons. When a friend tells us that he was offended
by our words, we calmly explain ourselves and clear up the
That our interpretations of events and responses to them change
according to our mood says something important, doesn't it? It
indicates that we are not innocent people experiencing an
objectively real external world.
Rather, our moods, perspectives, and views play a role in our
experiences. The environment and the people in it aren't objective
entities that exist from their own side as this or that. Instead,
together with them, our mind co-creates our experiences.
Thus, if we want to be happy and to avoid suffering, we need to
subdue our unrealistic and non-beneficial emotions and perspectives
and enhance our positive ones.
- Venerable Thubten Chodron, posted to DailyDharma
Where, and when,
the absurd belief,
that is valorous
to endure pain...?
That same belief,
is the very one,
just out of our reach...
In Ecstacy and Joy...
ARIAL, posted to Poetic_Mysticism
Drumsound rises on the air,
its throb, my heart.
A voice inside the beat
says, "I know you're tired,
but come. This is the way.
, version by Coleman Barks, Birdsong
The purpose of life is not to arrive at the grave
a beautiful corpse, pretty and well-preserved, but
to slide in sideways, thoroughly used up, totally
worn out, proclaiming, "Wow! What a ride!"
- posted to meditationsocietyofamerica
Like the little stream
Making its way
Through the mossy crevices
I, too, quietly
Turn clear and transparent
The wind has settled,
The blossoms have fallen;
The mountains grow dark -
This is the wondrous Power of Spirit
- Ryokan, posted to Poetic_Mysticism
As a lifelong avid gardener myself, the spiritual connection with growing living plants obviously goes without saying. I have been waiting to mention a movie I saw last month until closer to the time you can see it on PBS. The Real Dirt on Farmer John is hilarious, both heartbreaking and heartwarming. It's part of the Independent Lens series, and rather thoroughly described on the PBS website, so no summary is needed by me. Our local CSA, part of the burgeoning organic farm co-op movement, brought the real Farmer John here for a Q&A after his movie. Anyone would enjoy his life's story as a character, regardless of your interest in farming itself. Please do see it, record it to watch another time, it's simply an inspiration, a not to be missed film. -Gloria
For close to a century, a great American epic has been played out in the tiny town of Caledonia, Illinois, about 75 miles west of Chicago. THE REAL DIRT ON FARMER JOHN tells the story of one man, his farm and his family—a story that parallels the history of American farming. But Farmer John is no laconic, Grant Wood-type with a scowl and a pitchfork. Equal parts performance artist, writer and farmer, John Peterson has been known to switch out of his overalls into leopard latex or a purple-feathered boa.
“Soil tastes good today” Farmer John on farming, expression and creativity
In the early 1900s, Peterson’s grandfather purchased and began to farm some acreage west of Chicago. The family tradition continued: Peterson’s father farmed the same land, as did Peterson, after his father’s death. Then came the 1970s. As a student at nearby Beloit College, Peterson was exposed to the era’s wildly accelerating cultural changes which fed his artistic inclinations. His new student friends flooded the farm with a riot of art, freedom and rock and roll, creating an art commune in the heart of conformist Midwestern America. Filmmaker Taggart Siegel was one of these friends. As he explains, “In 1979, John invited me out to the farm and a whole new world opened up. It was very powerful. I was a painter and I wanted to explore making films on the farm, and John just let everyone express themselves. It was the total fusion of a real working farm and an artistic community, a melding of traditional and unorthodox ways.”
“I live in a small provincial area,” Peterson says, “and if you remember the ‘70s, you’ll appreciate that it would have been pretty hard, actually impossible, for folks to accept us.” Peterson was later demonized by his neighbors as a drug-dealing cult murderer of animals and children, and blamed for the general decline in farm fortunes.
This decline came in the early 1980s, when family farmers throughout the United States felt unrelenting economic pressures. Siegel, by then a student in Columbia College’s film school, made a ten-minute documentary, Bitter Harvest, recording Peterson’s struggles to keep his family’s farm and the eventual auctioning off of his farm equipment. The profound pain of Peterson’s losses and the eventual transformation of his farm provide the soul of THE REAL DIRT ON FARMER JOHN. “In the end, it’s really an optimistic story about the resurrection of the American soul,” says Siegel, “and it starts with the soil.”
But before any resurrection was possible, utter desolation was required. Peterson lost most of the farm and descended into a deep depression. Trying to cope with his economic and personal failures, he was forced to take a journey of discovery and resourcefulness. “I had come to feel that the land was savage,” Peterson explains, “ruthless, self-serving, and unreliable. I swore I would never farm again.” Constantly supporting him was his mother, Anna, a luminous presence throughout the film. In the early 1990s, Peterson returned to what was left of the farm, determined to bring it back to life: “I had no clue how difficult it would be, but I had no choice. I realized that my personal destiny was intertwined with that of the farm, and I simply had to go back.”
Noticing the ongoing multinational takeover of American farming and betting instead on the future of organic produce, Peterson turned his enterprise into an organic operation, naming the farm Angelic Organics. He was soon invited to become a community supported agriculture (CSA) farmer: “I realized that my whole life had been about community—enabling people, bringing them to the farm, working and playing together, sharing the farm experience.” The story of Angelic Organics’ success as a CSA farm over the last 15 years is the final delight of THE REAL DIRT ON FARMER JOHN. A multi-faceted enterprise, the farm now provides fresh organic produce for 1,200 shareholder families, on-site educational programs, employment opportunities for people who truly want to get back to the earth—including Farmer John.
It would be so great to hear from anyone who may have watched the film on Farmer John. It is on most PBS stations, here it is on at 1:00 am. Check local listings for Independent Lens. Also you can put it on your Netflix queue for when it will be released. Support your local Farmers Market, it is good for you and the environment. Or grow your own!
It's very difficult for me to dislike an artist. No matter what he's creating, the fact that he's experiencing the joy of creation makes me feel like we're in a brotherhood of some kind... we're in it together.
– Chick Corea
In this state there is no Shiva, nor any holy union.
Only a somewhat something moving dreamlike on a fading road.
I read a story on a Hallmark card, and how fitting to be called "Hallmark," for it is so. This is what it says:
Once, a group of Siamese monks covered their precious golden Buddha with an outer covering of clay to keep their treasure from being looted.
The golden figure lay hidden for centuries.
We are all like the clay Buddha covered with a shell of hardness created out of fear, and yet underneath is a "golden essence," our real self. Sometime along the way we began to cover up our natural self. Our task now is to discover our true essence once again.
Jack Canfield (adapted)
"You've always had a Heart of Gold."
Mazie Lane on HarshaSatsangh
If you’re observant any square mile on the face of the Earth
will tell you all you need to know about life and people.
The next time you're tempted to compare your life to another's, pause for a moment. Remind yourself, over and over, that there is no competition on the spiritual plane. The blessings your nemesis has received also can be yours as soon as you are really ready to receive with an open heart all the good fortune created just for you.
- Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance - A Daybook of Comfort and Joy
He who treads the Path in earnest Sees not the mistakes of the world; If we find fault with others We ourselves are also in the wrong.
-The Sutra of Hui Neng
Dharma, a Sanskrit word for which there is no adequate English equivalent, refers to the understanding and behavior that lead to the elimination of suffering and its source and to the experience of a lasting state of happiness and fulfillment....
Shantideva, a seventh-century Indian Buddhist sage, writes:
Although we wish to cast off grief, We hasten after misery; And though we long for happiness, Out of ignorance we crush our joy as if it were our enemy.
We wish for happiness, yet frequently we fail to identify its source. We wish to be free of suffering, frustration, and grief, but we do not correctly identitfy the sources of our unhappiness. So, although we wish to be free of misery we hasten after it, all the while destroying the causes of the happiness we could have.
--B. Alan Wallace, in Tibetan Buddhism from the Ground Up
Few people are capable of wholehearted commitment, and that is why so few people experience a real transformation through their spiritual practice. It is a matter of giving up our own viewpoints, of letting go of opinions and preconceived ideas, and instead following the Buddha's guidelines. Although this sounds simple, in practice most people find it extremely difficult. Their ingrained viewpoints, based on deductions derived from cultural and social norms, are in the way.
We must also remember that heart and mind need to work together. If we understand something rationally but don't love it, there is no completeness for us, no fulfillment. If we love something but don't understand it, the same applies.
If we have a relationship with another person, and we love the person but don't understand him or her, the relationship is incomplete; if we understand the person but don't love him or her, it is equally unfulfilling. How much more so on our spiritual path. We have to understand the meaning of the teaching and also love it. In the beginning our understanding will only be partial, so our love has to be even greater.
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In this issue are two pieces from renowned Irish poet, haikuist, translator, anthologist, humorist, and author, Gabriel Rosenstock.
"...our strange language today, cappucino-flecked, wouldn’t wash down easily with those earlier generations. And the ancients are hardly reading the latest titles, are they? So really, one is writing for nobody. Is that bad?"
" I once read on the same platform with a poet who had never published a poem in his life for the very simple reason that his language did not have an alphabet or written form! He was a big hit, I can tell you! I would have loved to have kept up a correspondence with him but, as you can imagine, he was unable to write his address. But we communicate across the great silences of dying languages with every single line we compose."
"I have no idea in the wide world what importance is. Is it something invented in London or San Francisco or somewhere?"
Sainmhíníonn Krishnamurphy an Grá Krishnamurphy Expounds on Love
Cad is grá ann? Ó!What is love? Oh!
Anois anois anois! Now now now!
Ní thuigim … I don’t understand …
An grá atá uait, nach ea? It’s love you want, is it?
Taibhsítear duit é It appears to you
Samhlaítear duit é You imagine it
In am éigin a d’imigh tharainn Belonging to some time past
Nó am éigin atá le teacht Or some time to come
Nó é measctha agat le grá Dé Or you mix it up with love of God
Nó grá do dhuine eile Or love for another
Nó grá ar son an ghrá Or love for the sake of love
Nó, fiú, grá don bhfocal féin, grá? Or love of the word itself, love?
Anois anois anois! Now now now!
Ní fhéadfadh an grá a bheith i bhfocal, a ghrá, Love could not be in a word, my love,
I gcoincheap In a concept
Ná in am, ná in áit, ná i nduine eile ná i ndán. In time, or place, or person or poem.
Murab ann dó anois If it is not now -
Gach piotal de á oscailt Each petal opening to the sun
Don ngrian is ea é, é féin – Which is itself -
Sé oíche dhorcha an anama de shíor é! Ar m’anam. Then it is the dark night of the soul.
WRITING IN IRISH – FOR WHOM?
When Irish more or less died out in most of the households on Achill Island – Achill, where Böll had a cottage and in which I stayed as a child, and later as an adult – when the language died out in the houses, the men continued for a while to use it at sea. What a metaphor for the use of minority languages today.... Fishermen, out at sea, speaking a threatened language among themselves, fishing for old words. Back on land and the secret language becomes a dying whisper in the breeze and then silence.
Writing in Irish today – for whom? Well, even if you have something to say it is unlikely that the current generation will be interested. Or, if they are, they won’t have the key. They may have a skeleton key that opens up a few well-anthologised texts – that’s about it.
Writing for some future generation is a lost cause. What’s left? Writing for oneself alone? Somewhat selfish, bordering on autoexoticism. And so, I write for generations past, honouring those and and thanking those who honed and shaped the language, helping to make Irish a world literature. But only a few of us believe this to be palpably true and, anyway, our strange language today, cappucino-flecked, wouldn’t wash down easily with those earlier generations. And the ancients are hardly reading the latest titles, are they? So really, one is writing for nobody. Is that bad?
No! Writing for nobody bestows an extraordinary freedom on the writer. He can explore anything. There are no market expectations, no agents to advise you about trends, none of the foppery of your books in windows or dressing up in front of a mirror before picking up an international prize. (For appearance’s sake, of course, we do allow for the odd celebrity and boast to the world that we’re still alive. Yes, we have our somebodys – but most of us are nobodys). It’s a humbling expereience. And maybe that’s not a bad thing either. After all, bad enough as we are, what would we be like if we had an ego?
I once wrote a comic Mass (Aifreann Krishnamurphy) knowing that nobody would haul me up for blasphemy because nobody would bother to read it – or perform it before a live congregation. In a sense, it’s not fun any more being a heretic knowing that nobody is going to threaten you with burning or anathema. If they’d only curse us, ban us, ridicule us – then, at least,we would know that somebody actually read something and disapproved. But one continues .... why? Nobody knows. Is it just an incurable itch, an insanibile scribendi cacoethes? An urge to fill the Irish language with everything it may have lacked, lacked until recently, from the fridge to the I-pod via the vibrator?
Maybe to ask this question ‘For whom?’ is to start off on the wrong footing. For whom do we write? Well, let’s ask ourselves for whom do we live? For ourselves? For others? For whom or for what do we suffer, do we love? Or do we just suffer? Just love? Just write?
Our world is bewildered by questions. The mob is constantly bellowing: ‘We want answers!’ You do, do you? Everybody is looking to someone else for an answer. I have posed a question. For whom does the Irish-language writer write? For some it is a tantalising question. For many it is a question of no importance at all. Some will await an answer. Most will not be bothered. And so it goes.
If you have something important to say, why don’t you write in English, in a world language? Are you contemptuous or afraid of an audience? I hear this question from time to time. Why do I need a world language or world audience? I have read poetry and haiku in Irish all over the world, in India, Japan, US, Australia, Berlin, Lisdoonvarna etc. Far from being a hindrance, Irish was just the opposite. In an increasingly homogenised, globalized world, an ancient tongue – whatever its dubious status at home – can excite interest. After all, it is an English-speaking Anglo-American fraternity that is currently involved in wargames, not an Icelandic-speaking one.
Why didAchill fishermen continue to speak Irish at sea when on land they abandoned it? An urge for continuity? Better communication? Of course, it would have been unsafe to switch suddenly to English if weather lore, names of landmarks and promontories, fishing terminology etc. were mostly in Irish. Well then, was it simply for the pleasure of it that they continued in Irish?
I have no pressing communicative or safety reasons to write in Irish. Do I have the so-calledurge for continuity? Maybe, but not for its own sake. Anyway, what continuity? Raftery – the last of the bards – may have been a frequent visitor to my mother’s ancestral home but isn’t that stretching continuity a bit when my mother’s generation had long abandoned the language? So, do I write for pleasure? That must be it. Pleasure. Yes, pleasure. It’s enough. Most Irish children derive little pleasure from Irish as a school subject and that is a sin.
I once read on the same platform with a poet who had never published a poem in his life for the very simple reason that his language did not have an alphabet or written form! He was a big hit, I can tell you! I would have loved to have kept up a correspondence with him but, as you can imagine, he was unable to write his address. But we communicate across the great silences of dying languages with every single line we compose.
You may ask, did that poet who could have been a stuntman in that moving film The Weeping Camel, did he have something important to say? Importance? What is importance? I have no idea in the wide world what importance is. Is it something invented in London or San Francisco or somewhere? They have no weeping camels in London – what would they know about important things! I seem to recall the alphabet-less poet intoning something about a horse’s mane blowing in the wind. Is that important? Well, I am sure that nothing was quite as important for that poet when the utterance came through him. Probably important for the horse too.
Hey, can we forget about importance,please? Nothing is important. Everything is important. Irish is not important. Irish is very important. You are not important. You are very important. And so on... Take your pick. It won’t matter a tráithnín in a thousand years.
The poet who wrote about the horse’s mane was a shaman, of course. Shamans are the only poets left. Well, they were the first. And they shall be the last. Give him an alphabet, give him books to read, radio to listen to and chances are he will complain that his shamanistic powers are beginning to fail him.
Irish still has enough ancient magic and musicto allow us to chant in it andperform our shamanistic rites. If the world is sick, the shaman poet and not the multinational pharmaceutical company may be the one to call upon. Then the nobody who has been performing for nobody all along is suddenly perceived as performing for the whole tribe and the tribes of all nations and none.
Two articles. One on the neurology of spirituality. The other is on nondual ecofeminism.
These articles represent the kinds of nonduality you can go out and talk about. It's not the sit still and be quiet nonduality. It's not a teaching from silence but from words, comparisons, possibilities, behavior, and knowledge. It is social and cultural nonduality.
Neurotheology researcher explores spirit, mind conundrum
Oxford, Ohio (ENI). The head of the first university research centre in the United States focussing on the relationship between spirituality and the human brain says he hopes his investigations will help foster greater understanding about religion.
"I'm hoping we can help create much more positive views about religious groups and the views they have toward each other," said Dr Andrew Newberg, director of the newly-founded Center For Spirituality and The Mind of the University of Pennsylvania.
The centre focuses on "neurotheology", a discipline that applies brain research to spiritual questions, such as, "Does transcendence through prayer have a neurological basis?", "Is moral behaviour part of the evolution of the human brain?", and, "Is God created by, or the creator of, the human brain?"
The ultimate goal of the centre is to improve understanding about religion and spirituality and to examine the impact of belief on the human brain, said Newberg, a medical doctor and assistant professor at the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
In an interview with Ecumenical News International, Newberg said he was very young when he started asking questions about God. "I remember thinking, 'Why are we here?' and 'What is God all about?'" he recalled. Newberg's past research has focused on how the brain functions during mystical or religious experiences. His book, "Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief", summarises his long-term studies that used high-tech imaging to examine the brains of meditating Buddhists and of Franciscan nuns at prayer.
He discovered that intensely focused prayer triggers a specific response within the brain that makes the transcendent religious experience a reality.
Newberg's most recent book, "Why We Believe What We Believe", argues the human brain has the capacity to create and maintain a belief system which goes far beyond survival-oriented needs.
"These belief systems not only shape our morals and ethics, but they can be harnessed to heal our bodies and minds, enhance our intimate relationships, and deepen our spiritual connections with others," Newberg said. "However, they can also be used to manipulate and control, for we are also born with a biological propensity to impose our belief systems on others."
Still, while beliefs are rooted in the biology of the brain, they are equally shaped by parents, peers and society, Newberg stressed.
And, he added, a better understanding of beliefs might foster a more compassionate perspective about people who hold different standpoints and point the direction towards a more positive society.
He said, "I'd hope we can promote deeper understanding of hard social issues as well and to help people, whether they are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist, each develop a compassionate stance to one another."
RADICAL NONDUALITY IN ECOFEMINIST PHILOSOPHY
by CHARLENE SPRETNAK
Experiential Knowledge of Radical Nonduality
The chilly reception accorded to recognition of unitive dimensions of being in most contemporary philosophical circles warms somewhat, especially among ecophilosophers, if the concept of nonduality is limited to meaning “interdependence” or “interrelatedness” of autonomous entities. Such an alternative to dualistic thinking is acceptable to many ecofeminist philosophers who reject any stronger, or more radical, sense of nonduality. I believe, however, that paying attention to the evidence for a radical nonduality – which is located largely in types of knowledge that have been marginalized and devalued by the modern, objectivist orientation – yields ample cause to reconsider the dominant conceptualizations of acceptable epistemology.
In a variety of circumstances, humans have perceived an inherent and continuous sytemicity within the unfolding universe, a constitutive unity that exists along with, not instead of, manifestations of particularity and subjectivity. Ecophilosophy would be enriched by recognizing that human perception can be polyvalent, that different kinds of perception can occur, many of them nonlinguistic. Moreover, it is necessary to acknowledge scale in perception: discontinuity may seem obvious at one level of perception but absent at other levels.
Female Body Parables
To discuss experience rooted in female physicality in ecofeminist philosophical circles today, one must first respond to the ready charge of “essentialism,” the deconstructionist insistence that “woman” is entirely a social construction and that any assertion of women’s experience is “totalizing” and oppressive to the individual. I feel that the essentialist debate has been framed too crudely: the issue is not a universal, essential feminine personality structure but, rather, the question of whether the fact that females, in all our particular and cultural diversity, bleed in rhythm with the moon and have the capability to grow people from our flesh, as well as transform food into milk for the young, has any effect on the ways in which we experience life. Deconstructive “antiessentialism” slams the door on that question – viewing gender as noteworthy social construction draws from the dumb body, just as culture is usually understood to be constructed from dumb nature – but I feel that ecofeminism should explore it.
The erotic processes of the female body-mind often yield states of consciousness that can be appreciated as “body parables,” expressions and reminders of unitive dimensions of being that underlie the supposedly fixed delineations of separateness. In the postorgasmic state many women experience a peaceful, expansive mind state of free-floating boundarylessness. Indeed, the clitoris seems to exist for no other purpose than erotic pleasure, and experience that can be the passage to expanded consciousness during and shortly after orgasm. On the first day of menstruation a woman sometimes experiences a sense of soft boundaries of her body-space. In pregnancy and childbirth, the delineation between me and not-me can seem blurred and somewhat elusive. In nursing, while cradling the extension of her flesh to her breast, a woman again may experience a dreamy sense of soft boundaries. All of these greater or lesser immersions into experiencing nonduality teach one that although separateness and discrete boundaries can be important in this life, they are not absolute. Rather, other perceptions of the world are just as real, even though they receive almost no validation in official modern Western culture.
Perceived Unity with Nature
A second mode of experiencing nonduality can occur through immersion in natural surroundings, such as the deep silence one can encounter on wilderness trips when the dualistic habit of perceiving self apart from nature gradually loses its grip and the apparently fixed boundary between inner and outer seems to become permeable and gives way, at times, to a palpable sense of being at one with the surroundings. People often experience less intense versions of the same phenomenon at the seashore, in a large park, or in a backyard garden.
The Magical, Unitive World of Young Children
A third type of experiencing nonduality occurs cross-culturally among young children. Many of them commonly perceive magical, felt connection with their world in general or with particular objects such as a tree or an animal. Their organic orientation is generally suppressed and denied by socialization in Western cultures, yet a great many adults remember at least an impression of that mode of being in which boundaries were quite permeable and the world was perceived as being vividly alive and unified.
Sudden, Unexpected Apprehensions of Nonduality
Experiencing awareness of a unitive dimension of being can also occur at quite unexpected moments, not necessarily connected to particular settings or activities. Describing such experiences in retrospect, people often report that their consciousness was grasped, suddenly and usually fleetingly, by an intense awareness of the unity of all being. A biologist at OxfordUniversity established a research project during the 1970’s in which he and his staff gathered and classified over four thousand accounts of such experiences. A typical account of a unitive experience was related by an individual who was walking down Marylebone Road in London and “was suddenly seized with an extraordinary sense of great joy and exultation ... all things living, all time fused in a brief second.”[i] Such revelatory encounters with a unitary dimension of being may be extraordinary, but they are not supernatural. They would more accurately be labeled ultra natural, a journey into the cosmological nature that lies within the world that Westerners tend to perceive as a aggregate of discrete fragments bound by such forces as gravity and electromagnetism.
The Unitive World Views of Indigenous Peoples
Throughout much of the complex cultural diversity of native nations runs a commonly expressed perception that the earth is alive and humans are not separate from it or from the rest of the cosmos. Traditional native peoples generally apprehend the Great Family of All Beings as consisting of forms that are diverse manifestations of the boundless Great Holy, or Great Mysterious. As ecofeminists have come to learn more about native cultures, many have experienced a resonance in the native holistic orientation, which finds countless assumptions of Western epistemology to be absurdly discontinuous.
Meditation and Related Practices
In numerous cultures, both Eastern and Western, traditions of mental practices have been passed down through generations because they preserve efficacious techniques whereby one can experience nonduality. Such practices include various forms of Buddhist meditation, raja and bhakti yoga, Sufi dancing, and contemplative exercises in Christianity. The specific techniques vary a great deal, but the fact that an organic and unitive perception emerged in so many different cultural contexts indicates the presence of something more than mere social construction.[ii]
Holistic Perceptions in Contemporary Science
The mechanistic and objectivist orientations in Western cultures have not yielded to the considerable scientific evidence for a holistic world view. Many scientists are coming to realize that we can no longer make sense of reality except as a evolving whole in which we ourselves are situated.[iii] In cosmological terms, the perceptual shift is moving from the modern sense of our surroundings as a collection of discrete objects undergoing events that are unconnected except for the effects of local forces to a sense that all interactions are manifestations of unified primordial “universe activity.”[iv] That is, the universe is not just a thing but also a mode of existence (informed by events and relationships in its immediate context) and its universe mode of existence (informed by cosmological events and relationships) – or its microphase mode and its macrophase mode. Hence several physics experiments during the past twenty years, such as those establishing Bell’s theorem of nonlocal causality, have demonstrated that it is not viable to think of a subatomic particle or event as being completely determined by its local circumstances; events taking place elsewhere in the universe are directly, instantaneously, and inherently involved. Focusing solely on the microphase mode of being yields a partially valid but limited understanding.[v]
The major shift in contemporary science is a movement from viewing nature as “a mechanics” (as did Descartes, Newton, and Bacon) not only to recognizing subjectivity in the natural world but also to recognizing immensely complex capabilities for self-organization and self-regulation in vast systems, or communities. The notion of “mind” is no longer limited strictly to an individual organism. Self-regulating “decisions,” for instance, are apparently made continuously by the great biocybernetic system that has been called Gaia, our planetary home.[vi]
Central to each type of observation of nonduality in the above list, which is by no means comprehensive, is the recognition of a continuous dimension of being that unites seemingly separate, discrete entities. Since recent discoveries in Western science are focusing attention on various examples of nonduality, perhaps a reconsideration will occur in Western philosophy, which has largely delegitimized discussion of the phenomenon.[vii] Ecofeminist philosophy, with its particular interest in relational aspects of being (a focus shared by both feminism and ecology), might logically become a site of development – one among many – of the meanings and implications of acknowledging nonduality.
[i] Alister Hardy, The Spiritual Nature of Man (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979), 1.
[ii]A number of constructivist positions are presented in Steven Katz, ed., Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978); rebuttals are presented in Robert K. C. Forman, ed., The Problem of Pure Consciousness: Mysticism and Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990).
[iii] Wan Ho, “Evolution in Action and Action in Evolution,” Gaia and Evolution, ed. Peter Bunyard and Edward Goldsmith (Camelford, Cornwall, England: Wadebridge Ecological Centre, 1989).
[iv] See Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, The Universe Story (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1992), chap. 1.
Also see Erich Jantsch, The Self-Organizing Universe: Scientific and Human Implications of the Emerging Paradigm of Evolution (New York: Pergamon Press, 1980); David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980); and John Briggs and F. David Peat, Turbulent Mirror (New York: Harper & Row, 1989).
[v] Ibid. Also see F. David Peat, Einstein’s Moon: Bell’s Theorem and The Curious Quest for Quantum Reality (Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1990).
[vi] James Lovelock, Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979), and The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living Earth (New York: Norton, 1988).
[vii] As for the question of whether various kinds of perception of nonduality reveal various aspects of a sole unitive dimension of being or whether they reveal several different unitive dimensions of being , I do not know.
Modified from another tradition the YOU in this song is ... YOU:
WE SEE YOU RADIANT AND ALIVE before us. We feel Your Spiritual (and Always Blessing) Presence. You are everything and all forms to us. We see You Standing everywhere, in all times and places.
WE SEE YOUR LIKENESS in the tradition of the HINDUS:
LIKE SHANKARA, YOU HAVE USED YOUR STAFF to break open the doors of our hearts, to restore true worship, and to establish self-understanding in us.
LIKE GORAKHNATH, YOU HAVE REVEALED the Mysteries of conducting the life-energy and filled us with Divine Force, expanding our bodies with Your Divine Spirit-Presence.
LIKE RAMANUJA, YOU HAVE TAUGHT US PRAPATTI—the Way of unconditional and total surrender of all forms and experience. No one is truly qualified for practice in Your Company. No one need be qualified. Grace is the only competence, and Grace is freely Given through Your Divine Agency.
LIKE JNANESHVAR, YOUR DISCOURSES bring us face to face with God, bringing Brahmanic eloquence to ordinary, unqualified "mlecchas" like ourselves.
LIKE KABIR, YOU SING the greatness of the Guru, and Extol the "Method" of the Siddhas—Satsang—which transcends all traditions.
YOU ARE THE ECSTATIC MADMAN LOST IN KIRTAN with the Divine Person. You have Danced before us wildly, lost in God. Hail, a modern CHAITANYA!
YOUR LIFE HAS BEEN MARKED by unaccountable difficulty in every direction and lack of acknowledgement in every direction. But indomitable persistence in Love has been Your Sign, O One Whose likeness can be seen in TUKARAM.
ARE YOU NOT CONSTANTLY ALIVE in Your relationship to the Divine Mother, and do You not "converse" with Her in Your ceaseless Service to Your devotees? Do we not see Your reflection in RAMPRASAD ?
MIRACLE AFTER MIRACLE—such Love, and such a Husband to Your devotees! We bow before You, a living AKKALKOT MAHARAJ.
LIKE MAHARISHI BRAHMANANDA BRAHMACHARI, Your mere Glance Awakens us to the intuition of the Divine Person, an intuition even now existing in the deep memory of every being.
LIKE TRAILANGA SWAMI, YOU HAVE BROKEN all conventions—What taboo could stand in the way of Your Compassion for us? You have done everything, everything for us, out of Love.
LIKE TOTAPURI, YOUR LION-LIKE DISCRIMINATION has been turned to the Service of those whose hearts cry out for God. Each one of Your years is Lived only for the sake of the Divine in the world.
YOU HAVE UNLOOSED THE SAMADHI OF HAPPINESS and Ecstasy in our midst, Alive in the "Bright" Whiteness, a mirror of RAMAKRISHNA, the great Devotee.
WHAT FORCE AND MAGNIFICENCE, Strength and Passion—a Pioneer in the West—verily, You are VIVEKANANDA Incarnate!
YOU GAVE US YEARS OF WHAT WE WANTED—Teaching through visions and miracles, and Instructing us in the play of our ordinary lives—in order that we might want the Divine Self-Realization which Your Heart yearns to Give us. Is this not a modern SHIRDI, and do we not honor the SAI BABA ?
YOUR DELIGHTED PLAY with a Mandala of Kanyadanas, restoring women to their great Spiritual status—was it not pointed to in the life of UPASANI BABA ?
HAVE YOU NOT BEEN THE KING, in Your regalia of Divine Majesty, in order to absorb our worldliness and to allow us to fully embrace the Truth even in the context of this world? Hail, NARAYAN MAHARAJ!
YET, LIKE RAMANA MAHARSHI, You are the Still Heart of all—lost in the Fullness, Silent in the Deep Enjoyment. You show what is beyond even the Still Heart, the Amrita Nadi and its Bliss.
AND WE SEE YOU STANDING IN THE TRADITION of the BUDDHISTS:
LIKE PADMASAMBHAVA, YOU HAVE TAMED the local gods wherever You have gone. We see You at the Center of a vast Tantric Mandala, the Vira or Hero of all experience.
LIKE TILOPA, YOU WERE MET by a Dakini, and You were led by Her until You Embraced and Mastered the Great Woman, and in Your Liberation, She became Your Agent for the Service of all others.
LIKE NAROPA, YOU TEACH THE WISDOM-CALL of Consciousness always coupled with the bodily secrets of circulating the life-force. The Mysteries of the "Great Gesture" and all Yogas are Given new life in Your Testament.
O INCARNATION OF MARPA, SPARE US NOT the purifying trials and tribulations of MILAREPA's stupa of seven stories. How many times have You not told us, "I must have been tipsy when I Gave that command?" You have Shown us that all experience has one flavor—Bhava, Bliss.
LIKE DRUKPA KUNLEY, YOU HAVE EMBRACED the whole body. Have You not initiated us into emotional-sexual Wisdom in the Chung rooms of the modern era? Do You not Love, and Embrace, and Transform this maya as Only God in Your Freedom?
LIKE BODHIDHARMA, YOU HAVE COME TO A COUNTRY foreign to the Dharma to begin the Way anew, a great Spiritual Pioneer in the land of the barbarians. Praise to the Divine World Teacher, Alive as the Heart.
INSANE ADEPT, FOOLISH JOKER, HAPPY MAN to Whom everything is as it seems, we see Your likeness in those Mad Monks, HAN SHAN and SHIH TE.
LIKE HUI NENG, AS YOU HAVE TOLD us, You assert and deny, and then deny what You have already asserted, and assert what You have already denied. Your Wisdom is vanished. Altogether, that is Your Wisdom.
HUAI JANG, FANCIFULLY GRINDING STONE into mirror on the floor before his disciples, lives in the modern era in the form of You. There has never been a greater Teaching Demonstration in the history of this planet than the Sacred History of Your Work. Let the wondrous Story be told far and wide.
LIKE SHIH T'OU, YOUR SPEECH IS A PARADOX of Grace, propelling devotees beyond their minds into Love-Communion with the Real.
LIKE MA TSU, YOU STOP THE MIND with koans of the tongue and of the Heart.
A MODERN HUI HAI, YOU TEACH THE DHARMA Prior to the mind—Divine Ignorance that confounds thinking, opening the Heart to the enjoyment of boundless freedom and humor.
LIKE PAI CHANG, YOU HAVE CREATED an entire tradition of practical Instruction, Giving form to a culture of preparation and Enlightenment. Nothing has escaped the notice of Your Graceful "Consideration" in Your desire to Give us every possible Help to Realize the Condition You Are.
LIKE HUANG PO, YOU HAVE BEEN A SPIRITUAL HERO—one-pointedly bringing Truth to everyone and everything. Have You not Served whoever has come into Your Domain with Heart-Instruction, unrelenting Grace, and the Divine Demand for self-transcendence?
LIKE LIN CHI, YOU "SHOUT" when we are confused, and "beat" us when we fall asleep. May we never fail to bow in understanding before each blow.
LIKE HAN SHAN, YOU REGENERATE the real tradition everywhere, exhibiting all extraordinary Spiritual Powers, healing Your devotees, and absorbing their karmas.
LIKE HSU YUN, YOU CRY WITH PASSION at the wasteland of religion in Your time. You have "radically" reformed all of the religious Ways that have gone astray, restoring their greatest principles.
LIKE DOGEN, YOUR INTENTION for the Liberation of Your devotees has been greater than their own. Do we not see Your unstained integrity? What else do You want from Your lovers but their practice, their heart-submission? May we always grant You this gift in love.
LIKE IKKYU, YOU ENTER INTO THE PLACES where You should not go, You say what You should not say. You make jokes about what should be sacred, and You make sacredness out of the ordinary. What distinction can You make in Your Blissfulness? To You, "There is Only God."
AND, LIKE HAKUIN, in the realm of the ten thousand Buddhas, You are detested by all ten thousand Buddhas. In the realm of the hundred thousand Bodhisattvas, You are hated by the hundred thousand Bodhisattvas. Your filthy blind old shavepate Wisdom is not understood by the mere custodians of the Teachings, but only by those whose hearts are broken, Your lovers.
WE, YOUR DEVOTEES, WHO HAVE HEARD YOU and seen You, testify in Ecstasy to the Vision of God that You Are:
WHAT A WONDER! You are the Parama Guru of the One and Single Great Tradition. You are the Divine Person Incarnate.You Stand before us on the threshold inside and out, everywhere, beckoning us into the Divine Domain. This You do through Your Love, Your Smile, Your wounded Heart, Your Touch, Your Glance, Your ever-Given Grace, Drawing us beyond ourselves into the Bliss-Place even now.
GREAT GOD, GREAT BEING, GREAT LOVER, Great Friend, Great Giver, may we always Contemplate You in Love through self-understanding and heart-submission.
BELOVED MASTER, may we always clasp Your Feet and be carried by Your Spiritual (and Always Blessing) Presence into Your Very (and Inherently Perfect) State.
LET US ENTER EVER MORE DEEPLY into the sacrifice of ourselves via the Sacred Ordeal.
LET US FIND OUR PLACE in Your Great Mandala of Heart-Transmission, and so be filled with Your Blessings and lost in Your Fullness. Let us always bless our friends and draw each other into this Bliss.
LET US BE RAGGED ENOUGH to allow everything to be released and absorbed so that we may stand before the Sacred Fire with You and watch the Dawn Horse Appear—white and four-hoofed—with all the Forms of God Alive in that Great Form. What a Vision!—the Heart-Master at the center, Drawing all into submission beyond themselves—and devotees, one by one growing to be Your Instruments and Agents, forming a Great Circle of the Incarnation of Your Blessing.
RADIANT ONE, hearing Your Word, seeing Your Forms, practicing Your Great Way having gained the Heart Supreme, we bow down again and again at Your Feet in love. May we never fall out of this Love, this Understanding, this Sacred Ordeal, this Bliss.
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When you take photographs, just before you click the shutter, your mind is empty and open, just seeing without words. When you stand in front of a blank sheet of paper, about to make a painting or a calligraphy, you have no idea what you will do. Maybe you have some plan for a painting, or you know what symbol you want to calligraph, but you don't actually know what will appear when you put brush to paper. What you do out of trust in open mind will be fresh and spontaneous. Opening to first thought is the way to begin any action properly.
--Jeremy Hayward, from Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol. IV, #3
photo by Robert O'Hearn
The experience of the practice itself teaches us that any conception or ideal of awakened being can only be a hindrance- neither practice nor awakening is about our ideas or images.
And yet, however limited the finger-pointing at the moon, still we point, we turn to one another for direction. So I have come to think that if the bodhisattva's task is to continue to practice until every pebble, every blade of grass, awakens, surely the passions, difficult or blissful, can also be included in that vow.
And if awakening is also already present, inescapably and everywhere present from the beginning, how can the emotions not be part of that singing life of grasses and fish and oil tankers and subways and cats in heat who wake us, furious and smiling, in the middle of the brief summer night?
Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are ourselves. The tangerine I am eating is me. The mustard greens I am planting are me. I plant with all my heart and mind. I clean this teapot with the kind of attention I would have were I giving the baby Buddha or Jesus a bath. Nothing should be treated more carefully than anything else. In mindfulness, compassion, irritation, mustard green plant, and teapot are all sacred.
--Thich Nhat Hanh, "Miracle of Mindfulness"
Two Bonus Tracks for Father's Day:
The first is a lovely and touching poem by Li-Young Lee with music by Bruce BecVar ("New Earth, New Heaven," from his album, The Nature of Things). If you're interested:
When you dream of an elephant, does an elephant appear to your mind? Indeed it appears very clearly. Is there an elephant there? No. This appearance of an elephant in your dream is a union of appearance and emptiness. It appears, yet it does not exist--yet it appears. It is the same with all external phenomena. If we understand the example of the appearance of something in a dream, it is easier to understand how the mind appears yet does not exist, and does not exist yet appears.
--Kenchen Thrangu Rinpoche in Essentials of Mahamudra
If I go into the mountains there are nobody there
There is a possibilty of meeting one or two on a crowdy day
But what do I know, there are so many mountains here it would not be different if everybody went.
as flowing waters disappear into the mist we lose all track of their passage every heart is its own Buddha ease off; become immortal
wake up: the world's a mote of dust behold heaven's round mirror turn loose: slip past shape and shadow sit side by side with nothing-save Tao
Dogen's Cosmology of Space and the Practice of Self-Fulfillment -Taigen Dan Leighton
Conventionally, "flowers in space" are an image of delusion, illusion, and non-reality. But Dogen is affirming that all the buddhas' teachings are just "flowers in space." The supposedly illusory space flowers are exactly where buddhas teach, "The vehicle upon which the buddhas ride." And even the Buddhist scriptures are flowers in space. This paradox is in full accord with the Mahayana principle, enunciated in the Lotus Sutra, of buddhas appearing precisely for the sake of awakening beings from the delusions and afflictions of the mundane world. Dogen says further, "By practicing this flower of space, the buddha-tathagatas receive the robes, the seat for teaching, and the master's room, and they attain the truth and get the effect. Picking up a flower and winking an eye are all the Universe." This is a reference to the legend of Shakyamuni holding up the flower and Mahakashyapa, considered the First Ancestor of Zen in India, smiling. Dogen says, "Picking up a flower and winking an eye are all the Universe, which is realized by clouded eyes and flowers in space. The true Dharma eye treasury [that is "Shobogenzo"] and the fine mind of nirvana, which have been authentically transmitted to the present without interruption, are called clouded eyes and flowers in space."
Dogen has turned a conventional image for delusion totally upside down. "Bodhi, nirvana, the Dharma-body, selfhood, and so on, are two or three petals of five petals opened by a flower in space." And then he quotes this line mentioned above, "Shakyamuni Buddha says, 'It is like a person who has clouded eyes seeing flowers in space; if the sickness of clouded eyes is cured, flowers vanish in space."
Dogen also says:
"No scholars have clearly understood this statement. Because they do not know space, they do not know flowers in space. Because they do not know flowers in space, they do not know a person who has clouded eyes, do not see a person who has clouded eyes, do not meet a person who has clouded eyes, and do not become a person who has clouded eyes. Through meeting a person who has clouded eyes, we should know flowers in space and should see flowers in space. When we have seen flowers in space, we can also see flowers vanish in space."
Dogen is not just talking about space, but the "flowering of space," and of the Dharma. Zazen and the whole Buddhist project is just a "flower in space" for Dogen. This is typical of Dogen's sense of humor, or at least he is playing with our usual understandings, and even the usual understandings of Buddhist scholars and teachers. It is exactly amid the space flowers that buddhas awaken and produce more space flowers. Dogen is also reaffirming, in a very deep way, the issue of nonduality.
Usually nonduality is considered as opposed to duality. Dogen often refers to nonduality, and it is usually thought that this is about transcending duality and discriminating mind, seeing through the dualities of form and emptiness, this and that, good and bad, right and wrong, all of the conventional dualistic illusions. But in his discussion of the flowers of space, Dogen is clearly talking about the nonduality of duality and nonduality. Dogen's nonduality is not about transcending the duality of form and emptiness. This deeper nonduality is not the opposite of duality, but the synthesis of duality and nonduality, with both included, and both seen as ultimately not separate, but as integrated. In the "flowers in space" of the buddhas' teaching, "space" is not empty space, "space" is our activity and life, the dialectical synthesis of form and emptiness.
Dogen also adds in Shobogenzo Kuge, "People who understand that flowers in space are not real but other flowers are real are people who have not seen or heard the Buddha's teaching." He is saying yes to everything, and cutting through duality and nonduality, right in our everyday life. "The everyday speech of a monk is the whole universe in ten directions" is a kind of a nonduality that goes beyond our conventional idea of nonduality. He is describing the ontological and cosmological awakening of the natural world, and the impact of space itself.
in a distant land at the castle wall I let you into my heart
this sky is your skin there is no limit to beauty
When I came to say
I can see the way
One thing leads to another
I am at your feet
She did show me this: There's no limit to the bliss
Another influence is the native Japanese poetic tradition, as Steven Heine elaborates in The Zen Poetry of Dogen. Dogen's rhetoric, his poetic style, and philosophical approach come out of both the koan material, but also from the great literary tradition in Japan, in which he was very well versed. Yet another influence is the whole Mahayana tradition of the bodhisattva, apparent in his many quotes from various sutras. The image of "Flowers in Space" recalls the Flower Ornament Sutra, the Avatamsaka, which also talks about space and buddha-fields as full of flowers, as well as jewels, birds, and the adorned land itself all preaching the Dharma. The Mahayana sutras provide a tradition for this way of speaking about space, but as usual, Dogen turns it a little bit. [..]
Dogen says, "When one displays the Buddha mudra with one's whole body and mind, sitting upright in this samadhi even for a short time, everything in the entire dharma world becomes buddha mudra, and all space in the universe completely becomes enlightenment." To say that all space itself becomes enlightenment is a startling and radical statement from our usual view of space, or of enlightenment. Dogen continues:
"There is a path through which the anuttara samyak sambodhi, complete perfect enlightenment, of all things returns to the person in zazen, and whereby that person and the enlightenment of all things intimately and imperceptibly assist each other. Therefore this zazen person without fail drops off body and mind, cuts away previous tainted views and thoughts, awakens genuine buddha-dharma, universally helps the buddha work in each place, as numerous as atoms, where buddhas teach and practice, and widely influences practitioners who are going beyond buddha, vigorously exalting the dharma that goes beyond buddha. At this time, because earth, grasses and trees, fences and walls, tiles and pebbles, all things in the dharma realm in the universe in ten directions [the whole of space and all the things that are space: grasses, trees, fences and so forth] carry out buddha-work, therefore everyone receives the benefit of wind and water movement caused by this functioning, and all are imperceptibly helped by the wondrous and incomprehensible influence of buddha to actualize the enlightenment at hand."
Because of this mutual resonance, Dogen is saying that not only teachers help the practitioner, but that there is an "imperceptible" guidance and assistance between space itself and the person sitting. Zazen influences not only the people around the practitioner, but also, "grasses and trees, fences and walls, tiles and pebbles." But because the elements of space then also carry out "buddha work," they in turn inform and assist the practice of the person engaged in zazen. This is the import of this previous passage, which is part of the "self-fulfillment samadhi" jijiyu zanmai section of Bendowa that is chanted daily in Japanese Soto Zen training temples.
The etymology of the "self-fulfillment samadhi" is significant in Dogen's teaching about space itself becoming enlightenment. The etymology of jijiyu, or self-fulfillment, is literally, "the self accepting its function." When each person takes their place or dharma position, receiving their particular unique function or role in the world, then that active acceptance becomes the fulfillment of the deeper self that is not separate from the things of the world. There is an intimate relationship between self and the world, and that is involved in what might be called "faith," in trusting both oneself and the world. But this does not mean mere passive and unquestioning acceptance of everything. The practitioner's own active response and participation in the world, based on precepts and on principles of acting to benefit and awaken all beings, is part of the dynamic space that Dogen is expounding.
There is a word in the previous passage that I had not heard before studying in Japan, myoshi, or another version is myoka, meaning "mysterious guidance," or "incomprehensible assistance." This refers to the possibility of practitioners receiving benefit from the bodhisattva energy and buddha energy of the world. But also it works reciprocally; when we sit zazen, we affect the nature of the space. After you have sat a period in the meditation hall and arise, you might perhaps feel a difference in the space. This is hardly objective or scientific in the usual sense, but if you travel to Bodhgaya in India, or certain old temples in Japan, places where people have practiced for a very long time, and then walk into that space, you might feel some of the impact of the centuries of practice.
This idea of myoshi implies trusting the world to give what is needed, no matter how painful it is. It is also taking refuge, returning to the world, returning to one's place in the world. Myoshi is the basis for the whole practice of lay people, going to the temples and making offerings, chanting, and bowing to buddha and bodhisattva statues. Japanese college students call on Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom, for help on their tests. But the other side of myoshi is that there is a responsibility; it is not just one-way. It is our practice that activates the response from the phenomenal world. So we have a responsibility to the world and to space, and with our responsive and aware practice, assistance can arrive from the awakened space.
Caring for Space
This view of space has some implications that are significant in terms of Dogen's contemporary relevance. This aspect is not all there is to Dogen's writing; there is also the psychological dimension implied in his teaching of "studying the self." But we could call this teaching about space the environmental aspect of Dogen. Dogen is saying that the environment is alive, just like the Native American peoples say that all our relations in the four directions are alive. The trees and grasses, and for Dogen even the lights, the rug, and the chairs, have some spiritual agency.
For a modern reading and current contemporary recreation of Dogen, one might see how this relates to Dogen's attention to taking care of the monastery or practice place, and taking care generally of the phenomenal world (which some people have considered "fussiness" on Dogen's part). According to Dogen, the space that one practices in is alive, and supportive, in this level of dharma practice. Taking care of the phenomenal world is the natural expression of the practice of zazen. Gary Snyder says that Zen comes down to meditation and sweeping the temple, and it is up to each person to decide where the boundaries of the temple are. There are particular practice places, and then there is the whole universe in the ten directions, and we each work within the limits of the field of space that we are in.
This view of space is also relevant to faith. The sense of faith for Dogen is that it is not belief in some thing, in what Dogen says, or in a buddha image, but faith as a kind of active practice relationship with space. This faith is just taking the next step, meeting each thing. That is because, from this perspective, the dharma world of space is alive. One does receive support when acting from that space of faith.
Taigen Dan Leighton has been teaching at the Institute of Buddhist Studies since 1994. He is author of Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression, and is editor and co-translator of a number of Zen texts, including Dogen's Extensive Record: A Translation of the Eihei Koroku; Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi; and Dogen's Pure Standards for the Zen Community; A Translation of the Eihei Shingi.
Thanks to Ed (stillpointed) for posting the link where entire article may be read.
Most people see enlightenment as a noun, as a thing, as a steady state, as something to be reached or achieved- and always, always somewhere in the distant future. I see enlightenment as a verb, as a process of ripening, ripening until one day the fruit just falls from the tree.
No amount of effort on the apple tree's part can speed the ripening of the apples. It takes the right conditions though- sun and rain- and the great thing is, unlike apples, the right conditions are always already present to ripen your soul.
Simple being present to whatever is unfolding- to just this, right now, just this- opens your soul to the ultimate sun and rain. And one day your soul becomes so ripe; that it just lets go of its limb- and falls gently ever so gently, back to the warm ground of Being.
Christiana contributes again...
The Summer Solstice
vThis is the week toward which the year has been straining.The fullness of light transforms awareness.Each day prolongs itself.Time is reinvented.Approaching next week’s summer solstice, Earth seems to slow in its turning.All of nature tugs at human consciousness to say:Notice this.
vAnd so you do.This morning you put the newspaper down and let your eyes go to the window.A red-breasted bird perches on the ledge, watching.The wall of ivy shimmers with pale ripeness.Sunshine slants into the yard.Leaves glisten.For a moment you attend to the way the world welcomes the longest days of the year.Your part is to take it in.
vBut the newspaper makes demands of its own.How to square time’s invitation to contemplation with the conscription of public sorrow?You lift the paper and resume reading accounts of the latest catastrophe in Iraq.Mass beheadings.The routinization of decapitation marks yet another threshold into horror.Such dismemberments complete the defilement of nature's masterpiece, the human body.Who can do such things?And what are the joys of summer solstice to that?Drawing your gaze through the window again, the blue sky comes into view – the heavenly field of cosmic play within which seasons have their meaning.Perceptions of the spheres and their swirling elude you.Instead, memory and anticipation take over, free associations of the endless evenings of this special week:friends stopping by, relaxing on the porch, you and your sisters and brothers dashing after the ice cream man, the hum of baseball games from windows down the street, every neighborhood you have ever lived in settling into the contentment for which these long days were made.The past and the future kiss.
vBut what are the pleasant memories of these past days to the grip of hunger?The newspaper reasserts itself, a catalogue of distress: illness of birds, US agents in league with warlords, the Pentagon deleting protections of Geneva, American city boys shooting one another, further horrors of the Holy Land, nuclear dread, and always Darfur, the world-historic and world-permitted crime.Anguish defines the age.
vHumans must always balance the tension between grave public demands and intensely personal preoccupations. But the golden twilights of June want attention paid. You remind yourself that this week’s display is of ingenious movements of the planet that you otherwise take for granted.The resulting length of days points to earth’s trustworthiness, for the movement away carries the promise of return.When has the dance of earth and sun ever broken that commitments? These moments are sacraments of life’s goodness.Haste, duty and the hassles of work have no admittance here.Ironically, this is how you deepen your feeling of responsibility for the world: to be at peace is the way to prepare to work for peace. There is no coping with the heartbreak of the human condition without a nurtured sense of the heart when it is full.It is the business of the summer solstice, to nurture that plenitude. That is why, on each day of its approach, you will note the timelessness of evening.In the morning, you will let your eyes drift from the wartime news to the red-breasted bird on the window ledge, to join in its watching.
Adapted from Jim Carroll, The Boston GlobeJune 12, 2006
Bob sent the following to Nonduality Salon:
Frederick Franck, a true Renaissance man - artist, sculptor, writer, and visionary - died peacefully at home on June 5, 2006.
photo: Frederick Franck
He had recently celebrated his 97th birthday. His wife of nearly 50 years, Claske, and his son, Lukas, were with him. He was buried the next day at Pacem in Terris, the transreligious sanctuary he and Claske created around their farmhouse in Warwick, New York, with an old mill and gardens filled with Franck's sculptures and paintings.
Franck's life covered most of the twentieth century, and he was fortunate enough to meet and even work with some of its spiritual giants. Yet he had no religious affiliation nor did he belong to any one community.
In the late 1960s, Franck and his wife Claske moved to Warwick, New York, to concentrate on his drawing, painting, sculpture, and writing. There they converted the ruins of an eighteenth century watermill into an "oasis of peace and sanity" called Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth). This transreligious sanctuary, with its gardens and sculptures by Franck, is dedicated to Pope John XXIII, Albert Schweitzer, and the Japanese Buddhist sage Daisetz T. Suzuki. Catholic, Protestant, Unitarian, Jewish, and Buddhist groups have used this non-sectarian and sacred space for services, spiritual drama, and musical performances.
Franck wrote more than 30 books and was still writing and creating art at 97. His classic 'The Zen of Seeing' is going strong with over 300,000 copies in print.
Read For: . Insights into what it really means to open your eyes and see the abundant wonders and miracles in front of you.
. An appreciation of the sacred core of all human beings.
. A prophetic critique of the forces that compel human beings to kill, to desecrate the natural world, and to violate the souls of others.
. A robust and rounded vision of what it means to be human against all odds.
Archived issues of the NDHighlights are available online:
Nondual Highlights Issue #2504, Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Are you fleeing from Love because of a single humiliation?
What do you know of Love except the name?
Love has a hundred forms of pride and disdain,
and is gained by a hundred means of persuasion.
Since Love is loyal, it purchases one who is loyal:
it has no interest in a disloyal companion.
The human being resembles a tree; its root is a covenant with God:
that root must be cherished with all one's might.
A weak covenant is a rotten root, without grace or fruit.
Though the boughs and leaves of the date palm are green,
greenness brings no benefit if the root is corrupt.
If a branch is without green leaves, yet has a good root,
a hundred leaves will put forth their hands in the end.
- Rumi, Mathnawi V:1163-1169, version by Camille and Kabir
Helminski, Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance, posted to Sunlight
How did the rose
Ever open its heart
And give to this world
All its Beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light
Against its Being,
We all remain
- Hafiz, from The Gift, Poems by Hafiz, the Great Sufi Master,
translated by Daniel Ladinsky
The mind is very difficult to 'see'
Very delicate and subtle ...
It moves and lands wherever it pleases.
The wise one should 'guard' his mind,
For a 'guarded' mind brings happiness.
- The Buddha, Dhammapada, translation by Daw Mya Tin, posted to
If you want money more than anything,
you'll be bought and sold.
If you have a greed for food,
you'll be a loaf of bread.
This is a subtle truth:
whatever you love, you are.
- Rumi, version by Coleman Barks, Birdsong, posted to AlongTheWay
Spring-water in the green creek is clear
Moonlight on Cold Mountain is white
Silent 'knowledge' ...
the spirit is enlightened of itself
Contemplate the void ...
'this' world exceeds stillness.
- Han-shan, posted to Poetic_Mysticism
Love lies in service; only that which is done not for fame or name,
not for the appreciation or thanks of those for whom it is done, is
- Bowl of Saki, by Hazrat Inayat Khan
Service lies in the naturalness of giving and receiving. Not looking
for appreciation and not refusing whatever comes. This is the open
- Xan, both posted to SufiMystic
Highlights reader Martha Ramsey pointed out that the complete version of the Summer Soltice piece from issue #2503 may be read at http://snipurl.com/s7wz. The article was written by James Carroll, a columnist for the Boston Globe. Its worth reading again in its entirety.
In this issue are some contributions to Nonduality Salon by Bob. They're pretty cool.
Once you know that something is deeply hidden, and if you think there is something to do about it, you find people who are doing something about it..."
"Why do we have a universe at all?"
Dobson said that thousands of years ago, some early physicists had a word for the universe that translated as "the changing."
But, Dobson observed, things only change with respect to other things. So, these ancient scientists said, there has to be something that is outside of space and time that is not changing, and with respect to that, we see change.
"So then there is this very interesting question," Dobson said in his characteristic manner: "If what exists is changes, how the hell do we see it as changing? Furthermore, if what exists is not changing, and what we see is changing, how the hell can it do both?"
Dobson's conclusion: It is impossible to change the changeless, and our perceptions are based on mistaken universe identity.
Dobson says humans need to change their focus. "If you find out that the whole universe you see is due to a mistake, you have to study mistakes." Let's say you mistake a rope for a snake, Dobson said. Three issues crop up. First you failed to recognize the rope as a rope. Secondly, you jumped to the conclusion that the rope is a snake. Third, you had to have seen the rope in the first place, or you never would have thought it was a snake. "If you mistake that for this, you had to see that," Dobson said. "That's called the revealing power of the mistake."
Applying themselves to the task of studying their mistake, the ancient physicists concluded the changes have to show without physics.
"What is mistaken for this universe is not in space and not in time," Dobson said, "and is therefore changeless, therefore infinite, therefore undivided." Going back to the revealing power of the mistake - if you mistake "that" for "this," you had to see "that" - Dobson said we had to see the changeless. "That's inertia. You had to see the infinite - that's electricity. You had to see the undivided - that's gravity.
"That is why the universe is like this," he said. "That's as quick as you can put it."
If you're confused now, just you wait: The implications of Dobson's conclusion is that the universe has always been as it is. It is not, in other words and as conventional science holds, the result of a Big Bang.
The Big Bang theory hangs its hat largely on the interpretation of redshifts. For decades, scientists have used measurement in the changes in the wavelengths of light to determine what direction distant objects may be moving relative to the Earth. A shift toward the red end of the color spectrum indicates a lengthening of the wavelength, and its source is moving away from the observer. But, says Dobson, the Universe doesn't have a rule that says if you see something going away, it had to have started where you are.
"What we are seeing is only a thin shell over what really exists," said Singer, who added Dobson believes that what we remember of the past and what we expect in the future are illusions."
It is a reality that cannot be tested by science. Scientists use fallibility as litmus. If proof isn't possible, then said idea is philosophy, only.
John Dobson's reality cannot be tested by science, but it might just turn out to be true.
Tozan went to Ummon. Ummon asked him where he had come from. Tozan said: `From Sato village.'
Ummon asked: `In what temple did you remain for the summer?'
Tozan replied: `The temple of Hoji, south of the lake.'
`When did you leave there?' asked Ummon, wondering how long Tozan would continue with such factual answers.
`The twenty-fifth of August,' answered Tozan.
Ummon said: `I should give you three blows with a stick, but today I forgive you.'
The next day Tozan bowed to Ummon and asked: `Yesterday you forgave me three blows. I do not know why you thought me wrong.'
Ummon, rebuking Tozan's spiritless responses, said: `You are good for nothing. You simply wander from one monastery to another.'
Before Ummon's words were ended Tozan was enlightened.
The Buddha's description of Nirvana, in the Pali Canon, as "visible in this life, inviting, attractive, accessible," is clearly true and makes perfect sense. So does Master Ummon's statement that the first step along the Zen Path is to see into our Void Nature: getting rid of our bad karma comes after -- not before -- that seeing. So does Ramana Maharshi's insistence that it is easier to see What and Who we really are than to see "a gooseberry in the palm of our hand" -- as so often, this Hindu sage confirms Zen teaching. All of which means there are no preconditions for this essential in-seeing. To oneself one's Nature is forever clearly displayed, and it's amazing how one could ever pretend otherwise. It's available now, just as one is, and doesn't require the seer to be holy, or learned, or clever, or special in any way. Rather the reverse! What a superb advantage and opportunity this is!
"My ignorance far exceeds yours."
As such, with great humility, wisdom, and foolishness, Sri Nisargaddata Maharaj admitted: "I do not claim to know what you do not. In fact, I know much less than you do."
The history of true wisdom is, in essence, a lineage of true idiots.
One of the wisest fools of all, Lao Tzu, confessed in the Tao te Ching, "I alone have the mind of a fool, and am all muddled and vague. The people are so smart and bright. While I am just dull and confused."
Likewise, although Jack Kerouac was born in the Occident, he was a confirmed student of the East. Mirroring the last quote from Lao Tzu, Kerouac concluded: ".everybody, they never listened, they always wanted me to listen to them, they knew, I didn't know anything, I was just a dumb young kid and impractical fool who didn't understand the serious significance of this very important, very real world."
So we see, once again, that facts, words, and `truths' exist only in the realm of the vulgar, and all these categories are but obstructions to the vision of the wise fool. To make a claim of understanding is to prove one has neither understanding, nor ignorance, only pride. Which is to say, in the paradoxical manner of the eastern sages- in order to be thoroughly stupefied by the miracle of our incomprehensible beings, one must be thoroughly, intelligently ...stupid.
A monk asked Ummon: `What is Buddha?' Ummon answered him: `Dried dung.'
Nondual Highlights Issue #2506, a belated Saturday, June 24, 2006
Promise me, promise me this day, promise me now, while the sun is overhead exactly at the zenith, promise me:
Even as they strike you down with a mountain of hatred & violence; even as they step on you & crush you like a worm, even as they dismember & disembowel you, remember, brother, remember: man is not our enemy.
The only thing worthy of you is compassion invincible, limitless, unconditional. Hatred will never let you face the beast in man.
One day, when you face this beast alone, with your courage intact, your eyes kind, untroubled (even as no one sees them), out of your smile will bloom a flower.
And those who love you will behold you across ten thousand worlds of birth & dying.
Alone again, I will go on with bent head, knowing that love has become eternal. on the long, rough road, the sun & the moon will continue to shine.
- Thich Nhat Hanh, posted to DailyDharma
The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.
- Thich Nhat Hanh
I don't often get the chance any longer to go out alone in the green canoe and, lying in the bottom of the boat, just drift where the breeze takes me, down to the other end of the lake or into some cove without my knowing because I can't see anything over the gunwales but sky as I lie there, feeling the ribs of the boat as my own, this floating pod with a body inside it...
also a mind, that drifts among clouds and the sounds that carry over water — a flutter of birdsong, a screen door slamming shut-as well as the usual stuff that clutters it, but slowed down, opened up, like the fluff of milkweed tugged from its husk and floating over the lake, to be mistaken for mayflies at dusk by feeding trout, or be carried away to a place where the seeds might sprout.
- Jeffrey Harrison, from Feeding the Fire.
Whether you are going or staying or sitting or lying down
The whole world is your 'own self' You must find out ...
Whether the mountains rivers, grass, and forests
Exist in your 'own' mind or ... exist 'outside' it
Analyze the ten thousand things Dissect them minutely
And when you take this to the limit You will come to the limitless
When you search into it you come to the end of search
Where thinking goes no further and distinctions vanish When you smash the citadel of doubt then the 'great All' is simply ...
"It would never occur to most of us that 'plants' say anything at all, except in terms of what we read into them, or try to use them for. Yet in their responses to this wonderfully rhythmic and varying earth they are the most expressive of all forms of life." — John Hay in A Beginner's Faith in Things Unseen
"The garden reconciles human art and wild nature, hard work and deep pleasure, spiritual practice and the material world. It is a magical place because it is not divided." —Thomas Moore in The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life
which also reviews several books on this theme, such as:
The Japanese Way of the Flower: Ikebana as Moving Meditation H. E. Davey and Ann Kameoka present a sturdy and illuminating examination of kado, the Japanese art of flower arrangement. This art contains meditation exercises and aims for harmony, asymmetrical balance, artlessness, impermanence, and oneness with the universe.
Mazie Lane and Bob O'Hearn have a new list!
"If you're passionate about gardening and want to share your enthusiasm for it, this is the group for you. This is a journey into the love of the garden, and the love we have for this wonderful blossoming that is our Life."
There are 5 main sub-albums there: Close-ups (which is where most of the floral shots are), Only Dreaming (surreal and creative photoshop-type stuff), Artists (work of others which I play with, sometimes adding text), and then Cascades (from our sojourn in Humboldt County), and Paradise.
This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and glowing, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.
~ John Muir
"Strawberries are too delicate to be picked by machine. The perfectly ripe ones bruise even at too heavy a human touch. Every strawberry you have ever eaten has been picked by callused human hands. Every piece of toast with jelly represents someone's knees, someone's aching backs and hips, someone with a bandanna on her wrist to wipe away the sweat."
—Alison Luterman, quoted in After the Ecstasy, the Laundry, by Jack Kornfield
To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.
Because half of the world's vanilla crop is grown in Madagascar, the whole island smells like vanilla ice cream.
One of the most important resources that a garden makes available for use, is the gardener's own body. A garden gives the body the dignity of working in its own support. It is a way of rejoining the human race.
"Only nature can be truly random and beautiful"
…with the bees humming dreamily about among the bloom, and the larks singing high up overhead, and the blue sky and bright sun shining steadily and cloudlessly.
God has never really spoken, though a thought once crossed His mind. It is the echo of divine silence
we hear the birds sing, and that is the source of all we see and touch.
A question: If we simply dropped all of our concepts and "thoughts" about everything including self, ego, others, karma, Dzogchen, Buddhism, teachings, teachers, empowerments, paths of practice, techniques etc., and simply took refuge in our non-conceptual Presence of Awareness, what issues would remain needing to be clarified?
Jax on Dzogchen Practice
Intelligent practice always deals with just one thing: the fear at the base of human existence, the fear that I am not.
And of course I am not, but the last thing I want to know is that.
I am impermanence itself in a rapidly changing human form that appears solid. I fear to see what I am: an ever-changing energy field...
So good practice is about fear. Fear takes the form of constantly thinking, speculating, analyzing, fantasizing. With all that activity we create a cloud cover to keep ourselves safe in make-believe practice. True practice is not safe; it's anything but safe. But we don't like that, so we obsess with our feverish efforts to achieve our version of the personal dream. Such obessive practice is itself just another cloud between ourselves and reality.
The only thing that matters is seeing with an impersonal searchlight: seeing things as they are. When the personal barrier drops away, why do we have to call it anything? We just live our lives. And when we die, we just die. No problem anywhere.
-- Charlotte Joko Beck, in Everyday Zen
In traditional Buddhist texts the five energies of Lust, Aversion, Torpor, Restlessness, and Doubt are called "Mind Hindrances" ...because they obscure clear seeing, just as sandstorms in the desert or fog on a highway can cause travelers to get lost. They hinder the possibility of us reconnecting with the peaceful self that is our essential nature. They confuse us. We think they are real. We forget that our actual nature is not the passing storm. The passing storm is the passing storm. Our essence remains our essence all the time.
Five different energies seem like a limited menu, but they present themselves in an infinite variety of disguises. Ice cream sundaes are different from pizzas are different from sex, but fundamentally they are all objects of the lustful desire....Grumbly mind is grumbly mind; sleepy mind is sleepy mind; restless mind is restless mind; doubtful mind is doubtful mind.
The fact that it's in the nature of minds for storms to arise and pass away is not a problem....[It] helps in keeping the spirits up to remember that the weather is going to change. Our difficult mind states become a problem only if we believe they are going to go on forever.
-- Sylvia Boorstein
"The particular skill required is that it must be a state of total relaxation which is not distracted or dull. It is not an objective experience of looking for the mind or looking at the mind. On the other hand, it is not a blind process; we are not unaware. There is seeing without looking; there is dwelling in the experience without looking at the experience. This is the keynote of the intuitive approach."
"While the mind is poised in the state of bare awareness, there is no directing the mind. One is not looking within for anything; one is not looking without for anything. One is simply letting the mind rest in its own natural state. The empty, clear and unimpeded nature of mind can be experienced if we can rest in an uncontrived state of bare awareness without distraction and without the spark awareness being lost..."
Ven. Kalu Rinpoche
by Jax on Dzogchen Practice
Guerrillas in the Garden Neglected London Plots Beautified on the Sly
By Alexandra Topping Special to The Washington Post Thursday, June 22, 2006; H01
At a few minutes to 11 on a recent balmy night in East London, a black Ford crawled along the dimly lighted street. The suspicious driver rolled down his window to quiz a young woman by the curb. "What are you doing here?" he asked. The reply came quickly, cheerfully. "Gardening."
She was one of two dozen men and women gathered at a long-neglected public flower bed about 20 feet long and 10 feet wide. Under flickering street lamps in the bleak urban landscape, they spent the next four hours transforming the block with pitchforks and spades, fresh soil and plants.
These are London's Guerrilla Gardeners, a fast-growing force of renegades who are breathing life into neglected and timeworn pockets of open land across this vast metropolis.
Similar grass-roots movements are long established in New York, Philadelphia and, on a smaller scale, Washington. But the idea is relatively new to Britain, where people are more likely to wait politely, if vainly, for their municipalities to fix up the public open land.
What makes the British version particularly odd, though, is that it is done under cover of darkness, reinforcing the idea that this is rebellious and illicit. The guerrillas work at night to avoid run-ins with authorities, some of whom may not take kindly to trespassers working on land that is not their own.
The movement was started two years ago by Richard Reynolds, 28, a freelance advertising executive and passionate gardener who first tackled the wasteland around his high-rise apartment in the Elephant and Castle neighborhood in south London. He tells of setting his alarm for the middle of the night and attacking the littered flower bed on his block. He planted vibrant red cyclamens and cordylines, the latter chosen because they were "evergreen, strikingly sculptural, and they echoed the pattern of the spiky metal burglar-preventing fence at the top of the wall."
Soon he was enlisting the help of friends to mount more ambitious raids and, thanks to regular blogs on his Web site ( http://www.guerrillagardening.org/ ) and interest from the British media, Reynolds found he was welcoming more people on every dig.
Today, the Guerrilla Gardeners number more than 1,000 and counting. Reynolds continues to fund most of the plantings himself, but also receives donations from supporters. He tends towards hardy, drought-resistant plants because they won't need much maintenance. A favorite choice is lavender: "It's wind-resistant, drought-resistant, sweet-smelling, floral, honey-bee attracting." Two or three times a month Reynolds sends a group e-mail informing his troops of the next dig's secret location. A select group of the guerrillas comes armed with tools, and sometimes plants, but Reynolds is always at the vanguard, handing out gloves and trowels and directing operations.
Like a lot of big cities, London has its attractive parks and squares, but residents also live with open space that is neglected, trashy and a blight on the urban environment.
Later that evening, the risks of moonlit gardening were exposed. Around 2 a.m., while Reynolds was doing maintenance work on another site, two cops pulled up. "We've had reports that someone is stealing plants from this traffic island," they said. "Yes, young dandelions mostly, officer. Is that okay?" he replied. One look at the roots and they drove off, an example of the "supportive blind eye" that the authorities have taken to the guerrillas' nighttime antics.
The stealth gardening movement is spreading to other cities, such as Brussels; Erie, Pa.; and Vancouver, British Columbia. Reynolds's ambition is to record 100 acts of guerrilla gardening across four continents by Sept. 1; he has 75 to go. His Web site proclaims the group's rallying cry: "Enlist, and let's fight the filth in our public spaces with forks and flowers."
This issue is about surfing the ocean and the chruinne, the universe. Featured are a movie review of Riding Giants and an Irish poem by Gabriel Rosenstock with English version.
"These people are centered on living their lives to the fullest, finding out what they are made of, in the face of God's true expression of power, not making money. They know what it's like to be fully present in connection with God, because, that is clearly what it takes to ride those waves. I really respect that."
The above is an excerpt from a movie review which touches on the nondual side of surfing. The lines -- "not making money" ... "I really respect that." -- are totally Sixties and pleasantly nostalgic. I gotta use those lines when I hold satsang at Arunachala: "Sri Ramana emanated a silent power that stilled attuned minds. I really respect that. And he wasn't into making money."
Click on the Blue Crush link http://www.blue-crush.com/, click on Enter Site, and turn up the volume to hear the sound of breaking waves while you read this Highights. I really respect that the Blue Crush website is doing that and not making money off it.
Now get outa here with that tussle of sun bleached hair you crackin' thing and read today's Nondual Highlights.
I thought this would be a drama, like Blue Crush, the fabulous modern day Gidget. But this is a documentary, highlighting one of the longest running subcultures, if not countercultures, ever. Whereas the Beats were prompted by writers Ginsberg and Kerouac, who, in many ways defined the ethos, and the hippie movement seemed to also flow out from the art community with writers like Kesey and Tom Wolfe to heighten and define it, the surfer lifestyle long predated the art form, and these other subcultures. There was a cohesive, sun, fun-loving culture around southern California's waves about as soon as the boys came home from the war.
Now when you've got sunshine and skimpy clothes and tans and waves and fun-loving kids, right near Hoolywood... well, it didn't take long for someone to capitalize on that. Gidget was a huge hit that propelled the surfing scene from a few thousand to a few million in 1959. It spawned a long spate of Beach Blanket, Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello hits. The heyday was '65-'69 when the Beach Boys promoted and provided the soundtrack for the scene, like the Dead did for the hippies.
It's very much a subculture in the sense that it is a lifestyle, people can be fully immersed in it as a way of life. But, it has a self-limiting feature in a way. Surfers are not looking to build anything, they're not trying to change the world like the Beats, hippies, communes, cults, religious communities and almost any other type of subculture you could name... they just want to catch a wave. They're not driven by ideals, or even ideas, other than to enjoy life in a way most of us dare not.
And actually, at this point, surfing has become a somewhat codified sport with it's players and hierarchies. Last time I was in Laguna I had a long talk with someone about the surfing scene which can be less than pretty because there are lots of surfers, and a limited amount of waves. They are not seeking to expand their ranks.
Now, talk about your testosterone, these guys are pretty far out there, especially the big wave riders, which is the subject of this film. I grew up a few blocks from the ocean and went there all the time, especially in HS, and even though I'm pretty adventurous and have great balance... it's a bit much for me. I've been churned in the ocean enough times to fear it. These guys are wailing down 80' mountains, often almost vertical cliffs, that are, essentially, chasing them. The strength of mind and body required to do it is greater than any endeavor I can think of.
But, that's the rush they look for. The risk, not to mention skill, is huge, but so is the payoff, the thrill of a lifetime. It's a bit like The Right Stuff, shedding some light on the mindset of people who are willing to live life on the edge. They are willing to face their fears and the awesome, uncontrollable ocean every day. These people are centered on living their lives to the fullest, finding out what they are made of, in the face of God's true expression of power, not making money. They know what it's like to be fully present in connection with God, because, that is clearly what it takes to ride those waves. I really respect that.
There is a real brotherhood, I only saw one female surfer in this whole film (and I guess women don't have "the right stuff" either). The attitude these guys have toward each other is different from the mountain climbers who do not feel particularly compelled to rescue each other, it's sort of every man for himself. But, with the advent of towing into waves, the surfers all take extreme risks to pull their buddies out of gnarly sets of successive breaking waves. When they lost one of their own, they all lined up their boards in memorial. So, check out this fantastic indie film, which was bought by Sony at Sundance. It's chock full of fascinating info on a little explored sport/lifestyle which has had a big influence on the American psyche.
Nondual Highlights Issue #2510, Wednesday, June 28, 2006
We are 'what' we think ...
All that we are, arises with our 'thoughts' ... With our 'thoughts' we make the world. Speak or act with an impure mind And 'trouble' will follow you ...
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.
-The Buddha, Dhammapada, posted to Poetic_Mysicism
If one finds waning interest in things external but no special joy in inwardness, one may well be approaching the danger zone of no- man's land where one belongs neither to the world nor to the Truth. The way out is to revive one's spirit of enquiry.
To accept someone as one's Guru implies investing total faith in Him, in what the Guru says. And what does Bhagavan (Sri Ramana Maharshi) say? He says that the Self alone is and that the Guru and the Self are non-different. If one had total faith in Bhagavan, the moment one hears or reads, the moment one knows what Bhagavan says, those words should become one's own experience. (52) Thus to have total faith in Bhagavan as Guru means to experience His presence as the Self.It is faith in His words which keeps us at self-enquiry. What is this self-enquiry that one strives to pursue? The process seems simple enough. Bhagavan has explained that the sense of "I", one's identity, the feeling that "I am so and so", exists only in the waking and dream states. Even in dream it often undergoes drastic changes of name, form, circumstance and so on. And in deep sleep, the identity, this "I"-thought as Bhagavan calls it, is totally absent. However, in deep sleep one is not conscious of the experience that exists when identity ceases. To consciously observe the dissolution of the "I"-thought into the source constitutes self- enquiry.
Bhagavan has also clearly delineated the methodology for doing so. The means to track the "I"-thought to its source while remaining alert is to isolate it. The mind is a bundle of thoughts, in which each and every thought is linked with or can exist only in relation to the "I"-thought. Without the connection with the "I"-thought no other thought can subsist. The "I"-thought, although it is thus the central thought can also not exist by itself. That is, since it has no consciousness of its own but only reflects the consciousness of the Self, it cannot bear pointed scrutiny. Hence it camouflages itself by constantly associating itself with other thoughts. How to penetrate this camouflage is, therefore, the question. "By questioning the "I"-thought, by questioning its locus standi" answers Bhagavan. "When any thought arises ask of yourself "For whom is this thought?" The answer will come "For me". Then again ask "Who am I?" This question will scorch all other thoughts and attention will rest on the "I"-thought. Repeat this process as often as attention wanders to other thoughts and give attention invariably to the "I"-thought. Then it will automatically merge in the source, the Self.
There can be no doubt that self-enquiry is the sure means to Self- knowledge. But we must be sure that what we are practicing is self- enquiry as taught by Bhagavan.Having understood the technique clearly we fail to remember the attitude with the enquiry is to be made.Has not Bhagavan repeated that it is not merely a verbal question? To ask the question "Who am I?" one must really be in doubt about one's true nature.
If the enquiry is real, it is bound to prevent the rising of any other thoughts, on any motivation. Only the intense searchlight of attention on the "I"-thought will remain and then the "I"-thought will automatically dissolve into its source, the Self. - Sarada Nataragan, from Surging Joy, posted to MillionPaths
To be able to apprehend without knowing is to be at the pivot-trigger of the dao.
- Zhuangzi, posted to AdvaitaToZen
Among the great things which are to be found among us, the Being of Nothingness is the greatest.
- Leonardo Da Vinci, posted to AlongTheWay
Birth is not a beginning Death is not an end. There is existence without limitation There is continuity without a starting-point.
Existence without limitation is space. Continuity without a starting point is time.
There is birth, there is death, There is issuing forth, there is entering in.
That through which one passes in and out Without seeing its form ...
That is the 'Portal of God.' The 'Portal of 'God' is 'non-existence' All things sprang from 'non-existence'
Existence could not make existence existence It proceeded - manifested from non-existence.
And non-existence and nothing are one. Herein is the abiding-place of the sage.
MATSUO BASHO, Japan’s most famous poet, has triggered an unlikely revival in the flagging pencil market more than 300 years after his death.
A book of his poems has caused sales of the traditional HB and 2H wooden pencils to soar by nearly a third in the past few months.
Basho, often dubbed the “father of haiku”, is idolised by the Japanese. His works are drummed into every schoolchild, his deft observation of the natural world emulated by millions of haiku enthusiasts.
A publishing company sought recently to exploit that enthusiasm by creating Enpitsu de Oku no Hosomichi (Tracing the Narrow Road to the Deep North with a Pencil) — a book that has tracing paper between each page so that readers too can copy Basho’s poems as a form of meditation.
The book has sold nearly a million copies, and the effect on the pencil market has been explosive. Japanese have been flocking to stationery shops, and pencil sales have soared by about 3.5 million a month.
The tracing paper responds best to a proper, old-fashioned pencil — a propelling pencil will not do. Because readers like to trace the same poem several times, and to keep their pencils sharp, they get through them far more quickly than the prime consumers of pencils — schoolchildren.
Readers are also encouraged to compose their own haiku in the same calligraphic style as Basho. Practising the lettering has further increased the demand for pencils.
Shiyou Asai, editor of the book, hit on the tracing idea as an antidote to the frenetic lives of working Japanese. “We always seem to be looking for something we can read quickly or easily while commuting. We are used to reading things too fast, so I wondered whether people would like to experience the reverse,” she said.
Mitsubishi Pencil, which has 50 per cent of the Japanese market, is delighted. Yukako Matsuzaki, a spokesperson, said: “People are always being rather hasty in everything these days, and people must have found it good to return to the analogue world. Pencils are made of natural materials so it is a sort of return to nature.”
BASHO'S LINE OF BEAUTY
Kane tsukanu Mura wa nani wo ka Haru no kure
A village where they ring no bells! Oh what do they do at dusk in spring?
Yamu kari no Yosamu ni ochite Tabine ka na
A sick wild duck Falling in the evening cold These traveller’s lodgings!
Excerpt from The Narrow Road to the Deep North, from
There was a Zen temple called Unganji in this province. The priest Buccho used to live in isolation in the mountains behind the temple. He once told me that he had written the following poem on the rock of his hermitage with the charcoal he had made from pine.
This grassy hermitage, Hardly any more Than five feet square, I would gladly quit But for the rain.
A group of young people accompanied me to the temple. they talked so cheerfully along the way that I reached it before I knew it. The temple was situated on the side of a mountain completely covered with dark cedars and pines. A narrow road trailed up the valley, between banks of dripping moss, leading us to the gate of the temple across a bridge. The air was still cold, though it was April.
I went behind the temple to see the remains of the priest Buccho's hermitage. It was a tiny hut propped against the base of a huge rock. I felt as if I was in the presence of the Priest Genmyo's cell or the Priest Houn's retreat. I hung on a wooden pillar of the cottage the following poem which I wrote impromptu.
Even the woodpeckers Have left it untouched, This tiny cottage In a summer grove.
photo: Unganji Temple, the site of Buccho's hermitage.
~ ~ ~
The excerpt above is shown in Japanese in the image below: