drip drip flow…

We apparently are all going through a time of uncertainty, according to the various info-media I choose to encounter. A lot of that blather is about why we are uncertain, how we experience it, how much we don’t like it and what the prospects are of it changing through time and various conditions. My observation and experience so far is that the ‘going through’ is extending and we are seeing that this may never substantially revert back into the dream we’ve been having. The former Normal.

We may be waking up a little from some of those expectations and starting to see the possibility of settling into a world where nothing is guaranteed. Nothing can be promised that is of any real value. Which is what the former “Normal” was, we just haven’t had  an all-inclusive wake-up call like Covid/Climate change since WWII…So, this time around we may be able to achieve various things that seem to be stubbornly elusive.

Kingdom of Heaven? Pursuit of Happiness? Freedom from Hunger? Equality of Races, of Sexes, of Genders, of Opportunities? A Fair Trial? Good Education for all? A Roof Over our Heads? Safety?  Freedom from Fear?  Of disease? Of dying before ‘our time’?…Freedom from Suffering and Discomfort? 

I’m not holding my breath on any of the above becoming a general reality in any foreseeable future that I can envision, although the arena of ‘Freedom from Suffering and Discomfort’ is kind of an encapsulation of all of the others and I believe that is achievable and possible for us individually.

The problem with the solution is it involves letting go of our most cherished beliefs, ideas and concepts. Those are the very things that define us. Raise us above…My beliefs, ideas and concepts define me. They make me real. So, this Me has to change.

Not us, not you. Me! I’m the only thing I can change. I can influence a lot of things and some people and I’d rather do that than change me

If you have a few minutes, hours, days, weeks months years, aeons, I’ll tell you all about how real I am by telling you about my ideas, beliefs and concepts. All that stuff is like a giant block of granite. its taken ages to form and now, it seems, I’m stuck with me.

Self-awareness is like a constant dripping of water on a block of granite. It changes it by diminishing it. Slowly.

Like all metaphor, the granite only works for the first iteration, so I’ll jump on to awareness. (The granite slinks away:)

By stopping for a few moments throughout my waking time and assessing what’s going on around me and what’s going through me (thinking/feeling), I can begin to take a position of being at a remove from my Self as a sometime unattached observer. I find that very interesting and sense that it may have huge possibilities and implications. Drip.

To be aware of what’s going through my mind in thinking and feeling and allowing it to just pass through (drip drip), and not worry where it’s going or came from (drip drip) takes a lot of effort and time (drip drip). Yet, at some point I can see this is a more Natural state (drip drip drip), than believing every little thing that my mind and feelings latch on too.

So, the solution to my problems seems to be becoming familiar and at ease with my own thought and feeling processes by just being still and allowing; quietly observing the mind as it goes on with its chatter and, after some time, it Naturally quiets down. Flow…

Seems like an opportunity for something and I still have to go about the daily business of living and helping myself and others. There seems to be plenty of time for all of it if I just allow things to be, to develop.

After some time there seems to be less worry and stress and fear and more sense of gratitude and a sort of ease. The key words being; After some time (and effort).

 

Interrupting the flow

Through curves and rocks

Creates the sound of

Life and chatter of an

Eternity. Murmurs of

Contentment follow.

 

12 years ago…

Going through old files, I found three years worth of a daily blog I did in ’09. ’10’ and ’11

MONDAY, MAY 18, 2009

Education (T.S. Elliot?)

I read somewhere that T.S. Elliot said/wrote something to the effect that, a truly educated person is someone who learned things they didn’t want to. Presumably this refers to folks churning through Latin or Greek grammar classes thinking they’d rather be at a pub. It certainly points to a quandary for the autodidact of my type.

I was never disciplined enough to follow the regimen of classes, schools and teachers, but I was curious and blessed with an ability to see connections that were more intuitive than intellectual. This is a reasonably good method to get an education if you keep at it for a long time, read continuously, and have a variety of things you find interesting and take the time to pursue them.

Sometimes though, I sort of wish that I had followed directions a little better.

Then again, I’m glad I didn’t, and gotten bent and stuffed into a niche that left me “productive” and “contributing” and facile in the ways of “going along to get along”.

Of course that could also be a good description of a fool (the nail that sticks out gets hammered down).

I find it ironic that today, by choice, and the absolute result of my contrary ways, I follow a path that asks me to discipline myself. As I go along this path I find more real freedom and openness than I ever could have imagined possible left to my own devices.

It seems that it is good to learn in structured settings and it is also good learn by jumping into the deep end.

Today I had a short conversation with a college student between freshman and sophomore years and was happy to hear his enthusiasm for college, but sort of uneasy when he described the reading program he had for the Summer. I thought , “That’s it? For a whole Summer? Three books? Yikes!”

To this young person I would suggest that he goes to two people he respects and two people he doesn’t, and ask each one to recommend three books to read. Get those books and read them this Summer.

I would recommend a book by Louis L’Amour titled “Education of Wandering Man”. I’ve never read any of his westerns but this memoir of his self-education as a itinerant worker and wanderer is a inspiring look at an independent thinkers approach.

We are truly fortunate to live in a time and place when literally all of the worlds written/gathered knowledge is accessible to anyone with a library card. WoW!!

…therefore I am.

A morning at California DMV and I am officially back in California. License plates and a new driver’s license. When the new license came in the mail I first thought, “Oh no! Wrong picture. That’s some old coot!” Then I remembered. It was a picture of an old coot.

So, I have slowly come to ease with my new (to me) status, Californian and Old Coot. And I like it just fine. When I first got here in 1970 it was to get relief from problems back in D.C. and Virginia where I got involved in a lot of stuff and things which were just the natural result (karma) of all the stuff I had been doing and become. In San Francisco they hardened into a personality and a life and a way of seeing the world that would be difficult to overcome. Nevertheless, at some point around age 35 I started to change. Not because I wanted too but needed to, if I wanted to live.

So, here I am in Bay area again, and again no plan and also not a getaway. I’m not running. I’m meandering because that is, it turns out, part of my path. Not seeking, not looking; more allowing and trusting that this life, the one I’m in, is sufficient and adequate to the purpose that I’ve assigned to it.

To reach out, yet not stretch. To yearn and not crave, to touch and not grasp, to release and not discard, to understand rather than insist. Participating in the inevitability of change in a way that right intentions tend toward the good.

To give my passions and indifference a rest, to let my knowing become love.

All those good folk at the DMV showing up for work every day to face a series of people who are anxious and needy and want to hit the road ASAP, and some of them will in ways they hadn’t anticipated. The confluence of everyday people going about the basics of modern life and doing the best they can within the parameters of their lives (karma) and their ideas, wishes, dreams, plans and designs; fears doubts and worries. In that DMV office every individual was related to all the others in basic hopes, dreams and worries. Some worked there, others came to get the service provided and all moved in and out of awareness and the wishes and actualities that came to their minds.

And, then its was lunchtime for some but not yet for others. This was all of humanity in one building at 5300 Claremont, Oakland, CA

A wonderful day. Some nice short conversations with neighbors and then on-line-paying toll-charges from my “Lap Around the US” almost 10,000 miles in six weeks last Fall. Pictures of my truck in some unremembered stretch of Highway in North Texas and a bridge in California taken by a camera along a road and now sending me a bill for $7.53

Life life life. It goes on until it doesn’t anymore. What beauty and grace there can be in not knowing and yet still caring.

The past and the present a

Seed on the ground next to a

Broken dried old twig. Which

Came first, yesterday or a

Hundred years ago? I can’t really say.

‘Cause I just don’t know.

…drive us mad

It’s not other peoples opinions that drive us mad, its our own. The ones we dwell on, cherish, nurture, groom, pet and take to the doctor when they get weak. We take our opinions to the hospital(ity) of our like-minded friends and family and build up their strength, ’til we can feel assurance, once again, of our rightness and insight.

We treat our opinions like our favorite dog. We take them to the public park (let’s call it the Agora just for fun), and we see lots of other dogs and wonder sometimes how people can love a dog like that; we wish they were kept chained up, or at least not brought out in public. Many opportunities for WTF moments. Oddly, that often actually makes us feel better. It’s good to have a well behaved dog that’s clean and friendly yet barks when there is danger or worry of upset nearby, like a different opinion.

I’ve been investigating my opinions in general and more specifically this weekend as an aspect of a “retreat” mind, for a few days. There’s lots of good Buddhist Dharma in regard to that general topic especially as it relates to meditation and actual mindfulness.

One can see meditation as a way to gain peace and comfort and ease for the mind, and that is a major side effect yet it is kind of not the purpose at all. The purpose, as I see it today (around noon), is much larger than that. It’s so large it contains all the dogs in the universe and lets us know that dogs will always be dogs and to expect them to be something else is a waste of time and effort, and the “training” of them has to be scrutinized as to why are we training a creature to behave the way that makes us comfortable with them, but often goes against their own true nature. (As the Dog simile starts to crumble like a stale cookie in an earthquake?:)

Anyway, I was connected to a new medical provider which is really a helpful resource. They’ve done loads of tests and co-incidentally also arranged for a Covid Vax appointment. The place for the appointment was in east Oakland in a small shopping center with a spot tucked into the back part of a parking lot and it was raining and the two tiny little tent-like structures were sufficient to handle three people at a time. A staff of about four people checked me in and moved me over to the other tent, thirty feet away, all the time holding umbrellas for all us folks, coming and going, because of the drizzle that started up. The whole process took less than ten minutes and it seemed like all low-income folks. After the injection the lady told me that I would have to wait for 15 minutes to see if there was any adverse reaction and could I please do that in my vehicle if I came in one, and if there was a problem to honk my horn and they would come and check on me.

I sat in my vehicle and just watched their operation from about twenty-five yards away.

My heart opened up and I was filled with gratitude for this effort of so many people in a tiny little corner of this Universe to help others with courtesy and dignity. Then a larger UPS van pulled up and the driver ran around to the back of the truck and lifted 3x3x3 box out and rushed into the clinic, and I like to think he was bringing more Vaccine but it could just as well have been any box of stuff that a clinic would use in their daily activity.

Around all of that reality there could be clouds of opinion, yapping, barking and whoofing, what with the times and all; yet all I saw was humanity at its actual purpose.

Caring, helping, giving, respecting and offering help.

One could weep at the wonderfulness of it all.

The great and wonderful

Things we dream when

Internally empty are

Nothing to what we can

See within gratitude for

Life as a human being

Willing to help,

Rain or shine.

There we sat…

Six or seven laypeople and the monk who is the teacher at the Temple we were attending this morning, sitting scattered around a bit of yard and the garage parking area where a simple and beautiful altar had been set up in front of the garage door. Because of Covid regulation in California we could not meet inside, so we sat in the chilly overcast for two periods of meditation and then a Dharma talk (better attended because of Zoom link-ups).

Its a back yard I’ve been used to for about 30 years now and have spent a lot of hours enjoying and working on. It has changed, as have I and so has the monk and the people who attended today.

One thing that was interesting to me was the Ivy “wall’ I was facing instead of the usual walls of a temple or monastery or in the places I’ve lived. The ivy was lively.

Busy squirrels and birds and from the street busy cars and motorcycles and the rush of BART trains in the near distance and jet planes not too far above, as I asked “What is listening and hearing these sounds?” the wonderful reality of the history of humanity encompasses the actual development of the human brain as our ancient ancestors heard rustling of leaves and the noise of other lives in a quite different way and adjusted their responses to the world as the sounds changed with days and nights and years and millennia and then Ages. We developed into a being that is unique in the history of the world (as far we can ascertain), in that we have adapted to have a range of about 20,000 feet, some of it underwater when necessary , and we can roam across the whole globe with a little preparation within those 20,000 feet.

But to choose to sit still, not to hunt, nor set a trap or to watch or observe comings and goings of other creatures; rather for the purpose of allowing something to appear to us that we cannot see, even when we strain to see it. When we don’t strain it may show up or just skitter through the branches above us or zoom along a track or in the sky or just be always available should we wish to be still and nod hello, without moving our heads rather our hearts.

A good day in an old world.

By a thread I cannot see, a bit of bark

Is suspended and twirls, clock-wise

Then counter, slowly then quickly then

Stops and swings and is Still just for

Some time and there I was privileged to

See it act like a mighty ocean, yet

Way way smaller. More like a drop in

One.

Happy Tomorrow, today…

New Year. Sheesh! I’m just glad the days are getting longer.

I left Walla Walla with my last load of stuff to cart to Alameda, CA where, as far as I can tell, I may be at my last address, or there’ll be more. When I got near the end stretch of my drive around the perimeter of the U.S. last Fall, I stopped to visit with the Abbott of the Berkeley Buddhist Priory since I spent quite a few years in attending at that Temple and he has been a strong influence on my Buddhist (Zen) training; and told him that I had kept my eyes open for a place where I might settle for good since Old-Age is becoming more real for me. So he made a suggestion about a place that would be affordable for me and I thought, “elegant solution” (Which is an engineering term for fixing a problem so that the mechanism is optimized beyond its original design and expectations). I was looking for a setting with good public transportation, walk-ability and a major airport nearby. Alameda has all that and some of our Sangha members live next-door and I’m 15 minutes from our Temple in Berkeley.

The doing of the move and the details and all the help from friends in Walla Walla to get going before Winter became the ongoing obstacle was quite draining, so the day I decided to go into motion was the 21st of December. My favorite day of the year because the days start to get longer about then, a brightening that continues until June 21st and then suddenly a pall is cast over my favorite time of year (early Summer) by my liking the 21st of December so much, because the days then get shorter, at the beginning of Summer. It ain’t fair, somehow.

Which brings me to Happy New Year!

Most of us have have not enjoyed 2020 very much even though those four numbers are very pleasing in their appearance and order. And, many people, myself included, hope that this coming year is better than the previous; within which there is a hint of hope that a lot of stuff will be in “turnaround ” and consequently 2022 will be really great (Be aware) because those numbers are pleasing also.

The problem lies in trying to get a grasp on what the heck was going on today. Where was I? Did I try to see where I stand or was being physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually in relation to myself in all those categories?

Yeah, I know! Big Hairy-Question. And then, where is all that in relation to all those other Beings and the World, and Life in general?

One may ask who’s got time for that kind of stuff when I can’t pay rent, don’t have a job and my kids and spouse and friends and neighbors are all turning into concepts that have to be set aside while We All have to prepare for a world that may not be amenable to any of our Wills and Ways anymore

Yeah. I know! lots of Extra-Capitalization going on in this here rumination.

I suspect we are being given a chance as a society, a culture and individually, to see how we respond when massive and real dire problems face all of us. All of us. If all this keeps up for the next 30-40 years; not even Billions of Dollars, or Whatever, will make you feel comfortable about you and your’s or anybody else’s future.

Given the opportunity to change

Will I look at changing me, or will

I look at changing you, or your

Mind and how you act and think.

Maybe its better to work with the

Material that’s at hand and accessible.

Fish need water





Daniel Boone said, “I’ve never been lost

but I have been bewildered a few times.”

An arrow flying past a window is how

Fast time flies, a drop of dew on morning

Grass is quickly gone. We breathe because

The air pressure of the world is higher

than that of our lungs. The air naturally

Forces its way into us and we think

We are the ones breathing it, when it

Is the world breathing us. Air, and its’

Pressure, came before mammals,

We evolved into It.

The Way was, the way Was;

Before we appeared and

Here is “I”…What a gift?

What are the odds of us Being,

Just in relation to other known

Life forms? Astronomical? Yes.

I don’t want the Wisdom

I can imagine. I don’t want

The Peace I can feel. I want to

Not differentiate between

Wisdom and everything else

And, I want a Peace that is

As water and I’m the fish.

Nothing special, just life.

I was asked to write something, anything that came to mind, during a retreat exercise. That was it. Just re-arranged a little and typed, I’m losing my handwriting skills. Old age and disuse, another old-coot baying at the moon.

Ahhh, Helmut…the moon is thataway.

I knew that! Harumphhhh!!

Truth, facts, observations

And opinion

Random Thanksgiving thoughts. A holiday created to celebrate the beginning of two centuries of extermination of the North American natives by an Empire that has done more murder, violence, theft and damage to the world than any other in human history and left a legacy of strife in almost all former colonies that still costs thousands of lives to this day.

The world as constituted, is violent, greedy, unforgiving and molded by passions that seems insurmountable. 10,000,000 to 17,000,000 minks “culled” in a country the size of Massachusetts. Those mink were destined to die anyway for coats and ‘accessories’ that cater to barbaric fashion habits and the common delusion that the world is purposed for our personal whims and desires. The numbers are actually doubly depressing.

Slowly and surely we are becoming more humane on the side of compassion and understanding. The world is a better and safer place than it has ever been (for people), and since our violent and greedy natures are often driven by ideologies and commerce we will all pay a steep price for being ignorant and sometimes deliberately blind when it suits us. It is too late to mitigate certain ecological upheavals that are imminent and neither the Moon nor Mars, will be of much help.

My opinion in regard to the above intertwining categories is that there actually is much to be thankful for which can hold all of the above. Chiefly, my gratitude is for the basic human quandary that since we can and have gotten up to all sorts of mistaken, unhelpful, greed-driven and destructive behaviors; there is an other side of that ‘coin’ which is our inherent love, caring, helping, building and creating an actual tenderness towards others and our-selves, which can embrace, and hold, all of those contradictions.

We can look up and see that there is more. A softer human aspect that can listen to the Quiet that shapes the music of life, and love; and quietly know what we are ultimately about.

We may not clearly see all

Ways we all gain clarity

Seeing-Listening quietly,

Rather than looking-hearing in

That acquisitive fashion.

Interesting times, now…

There is supposed to be a Chinese saying that is described as a type of curse one may utter, probably more so than yell, which translates as “…may you live in interesting times…”. The implication being that ‘interesting times’ are usually fraught with all sorts of potential downsides that make life uncertain which can be uncomfortable. Sounds like every day, at any time, anywhere.

Certainly our times are interesting right now, and my observations of myself and people I have regular conversations with, seem to have a similar sense in that, even though there’s a lot of stuff going on with extra noise, fear, doubt and worry thats more pervasive; I notice that I’m much more in tune with my response to the extra that’s going on, and I have a strong sense that this is an opportunity for many of us to look at our own inner lives and responses now that there’s a bit of an edge to everyday life in social and cultural interactions.

To believe the media is to think that we are all in a major crisis of great variety and complexity and the best thing we can do is somehow get back to our comfortable and normal ways of the past. I don’t remember those days. Maybe if I took a stack of newspapers from the last 100 years and just randomly selected 200 headlines they would paint a picture of normal and a “good old days” that sadly is no longer within our reach. Probably not.

Life has always been difficult and messy and scary and painful and confusing; were it not so, there would be no ease and order and comfort and joy and understanding.

Somewhere between these seemingly opposing ideas or possibilities is where we all have to live. The best we may be able to do is to be aware when those different aspects arise and then try not to make too big a deal about any of them; knowing that stuff happens and stuff changes is actually a huge wisdom that encompasses everything.

As in every Thing, real or not.

The more I change the

More I remain the

Same, seeing only

Aging and opinions.

There’s way more

Going On if I’m

Participating in

Reality. As in

Being part of.

Not merely viewing,

Comparing

Contrasting, which

Are bondage,

Not release

Or ease.

Wind and me…

The Chinese word for Emptiness is not easier to deal with when exploring the mind, than it is in English. All words are maps, some more precise than others. Even with maps lots of explorations have gotten lost and wandered until they found something new to the explorer, then the wandering was suddenly ‘successful’. What we discover is not new to the beings/things that live/abide there, or to others that have passed through, even once.

We are stuck with words and languages. Things get lost in translation, or so it seems. I wonder if they don’t get lost in exploration.

How many things in this world were discovered when explorers, scientists, investigators, curious and wondering folks set out to see what’s over that range of mountains, or over that range of science or thought. Often the wondering turned into wandering and the unexpected appeared as something new. There’s nothing ‘new’ as such, there’s Hoped For, WTF? and Interesting! and Wow! In most instances things are discovered when we wander of the path that we had intended to keep and then came to an unexpected cliff, or bear.

My mind goes off the path a lot from what I intend for it, more so and differently now that Age is a real thing. Nevertheless, I set out to explore my mind some time ago when I wanted to change Me. I didn’t have any idea of what I was doing or very clear on why, it just felt urgent.

So, I’m here on a computer, noodling.

And, its been very interesting and the longer I travel in that vast field, of meadows and mountains and forests and rivers and lakes and oceans of this little mind; I often find I’ve gone around some sort of circle because things seem familiar and known, yet different and knowable.

As I go on and my dreams change and gratitude just appears and my fears always become my teachers not friends, yet familiar.

In meantime, I also have to learn my new cell phone, sew a button on a favorite shirt, reheat some food so I can watch The News and realize everything is not comfortable for most, but that’s part of any journey or exploration whether we know we are on one or not.

Often I see that I’m an oarsman on some vessel of discovery and exploration and am grateful for the wind, and the wind has nothing to do with Me.

wandering lost I find my way

lost in the way I find the

ordinary. Looking for my glasses.