There’s a small Buddha statue in the front garden of the temple. The Buddha is golden and there is a small cup of water and a pot of flowers on the little raised platform the Buddha sits on.
Two crows live in the tree above the Buddha. They like the water bowl and knock it around pretty good when squabbling over the drinking pecking order, but often they just sit there next to the Buddha and look around. Chillin’.
There are two schools on the next block, so lots of kids walking by and an astounding number of them acknowledge or refer to the statue and sometimes the two dragons over the gate to the back parking area and yard. I like to think that at some point in a future those kids will be grown and having dinner with some friends and they are exchanging stories of the wonders of childhood (then just a dim memory), and one will relate how they loved to walk to school and catch a glimpse of the Buddha and/or the dragons; and how it all felt somewhat magical, mysterious and, somehow, right.
The crows I imagine are just happy to have fresh water offered every day under their tree, yet also sense there is more going on. Just what, though?
These two ways, that seem different, are also ways that we all approach the unknown, the mysterious. That Which Is. We glimpse, we sense, we wonder and we refresh ourselves and grow up and still we know there is more; but what is it?
We had a classic Buddhist ceremony today, the oldest one in Buddhism; and a pot luck lunch in the back yard. I went and picked up an aging and infirm, yet very Bright and Aware elderly Sangha member at his home and had the joy of hearing his spiritual and life reminiscence and we drove to and from his house. An old sick person who was at ease and peace with his deterioration and not too distant death. He was aware and grateful that he had done his best to open his heart and be as honorable as he could manage in his life and that was good enough for him. Sufficiency.
Perhaps as a child he saw some crows playing in a fountain at the feet of St. Francis.
Woke up early this morning to the refreshing sound of rain, A real rain. It continued for several hours. The drought here is taken in stride by most people since there isn’t a whole lot you can do about drought. However,you can do something about how you relate to the conditions that a drought brings on; but the drought is a drought.
I’ve a similar experience with my personal drought. I’ve had to work at relearning how to correctly relate to the conditions of my life. The conditions being all those things that comprise the daily ins and outs and ups and downs of life. How do I get the correct perspective on those conditions? For me, the most helpful things is to notice two things: One, that no matter what the condition is, pleasant or unpleasant, it will change. Two, that most conditions are merely information upon which I have a huge array of choices as regards action, or non-action.
The same is true of weather reports. They are just information, on which, most of it I don’t really have to react or respond to, too vigorously, if at all. So, as I get more and more information about the weather in my life and how I respond to it, I begin to build a picture of the CLIMATE wherein I exist/live. This becomes very useful information because I’m the one who has created the climate of my life by how I respond to the weather in it.
Yeah. I know. Typical tortured metaphor, but then I never metaphor I didn’t like. Or a really cheap pun, as it turns out.
Anyway, life is interesting again in an engaging way and it should be an interesting Winter.
These next few weeks I’m going to actively start looking for a place to live, short-term until late Spring, at which point I think I’ll know more as to decision regarding where I want to invest my energy and life. At this point I haven’t a clue but I’m still very drawn to the Inland Northwest, and that’s a lot of room.
I’m feeling wave-tossed
And a bit windblown.
Floating and circling
Around the center of
My life, mind and heart.
What does that mean?
As far as the eye can see, 200,000 people showed up a block from the temple for the Solano Ave. Stroll. If you look real close you’ll see me about twelve blocks down the street, waving. Oh, Wait! That can’t be me. I’m taking the picture.
Lots of nice people out for a Sunny stroll. Kids with their faces painted. Young women with temp henna tattoos and groups of young men trying to look cool and unconcerned about, anything. Lots of rock, jazz and soul bands with 50-somethings (to be kind),dancing by themselves in some re-creation of an ancient (70’s), festival they may, or may not, have been at. Plenty of food and snacks and police and potties and emergency personnel, and lot’s of room to just Stroll; with the odd baby-carriage log-jam as young parents stop to admire each others babies, and each other for having the wisdom to have babies born into a (for now), fortuitous circumstance. Ahhh, youth and the unending brightness of the future. Yet, the worry is there, because it is becoming clearer that we may not have all the answers to some real concerns that loom just a tad past the brightness.
Nevertheless, it was a beautiful day and that can never be changed.
What we can change though is the way the future plays out, by how we do things today, after all, the future is just another way of saying tomorrow, and that’s almost here.
God, grant me the Serenity to accept the people I can’t change;
The Courage to change myself, and
The Wisdom to know the difference.
I look at the modest little yard at the temple I’m living in and can’t help but smile at the abundance in modern life, in California in particular. We have two lemon trees, a cherry tree, a plum-tree, a fig tree and an apple tree. Figs and apples in the salad with lunch. California, for sure.
Another aspect of living here is the tortuous path political correctness can create syntactically (is THAT even a word?). I go to some AA meetings and when there is reading to be shared from the AA literature (most of it written in the 30’s 40’s and 50’s), and almost all gender references are male with a lot of “God” as “Him”: it often sends the readers scrambling to replace and insert gender-neutral or gender-equal terms. The impulse is pure, but it sure makes for stilted reading and listening and is sometimes quite amusing.
The steady schedule of meditation and activity within the temple is doing its work on me and I seem to be regaining some lost (and much-needed), perspective; kind of like turning the Queen Mary in mid-Atlantic. Very wide turn..
I’ll be here for a while longer, some things may be in the offing as to future choices but nothing that need any attention as yet or in short-term, so I can buckle down a bit and let go of my opinions, judgements and all those pesky fears, doubts and worries that are the handmaidens of the opinionated and judgemental mind.
This weekend we will be setting up a little booth at an event called The Solano Stroll, which is a 15 to 20 block-long street-fair on Solano Ave. which is just a block away from us. Solano Ave. is half in Berkeley and half in Albany and they expect an attendance of almost 250,000 people. So, a big event. Our little booth will be put in a section where they are clumping together all the religious spiritual groups that will have booths, and right across from us is the booth for the Atheists. Buddhism doesn’t actually take any position as to whether there is or isn’t a “God”, but we are taught that all beliefs require respect, and that would of course, also include active non-belief. To make the whole thing a little more amusing is the fact that all these groups are clumped together in the area of Solano Ave. where all the various therapists and counselors have their offices, and since this is California there’s a bunch of those too.
The cultural contrasts abound abound. The surface differences between Bay Area California and the eastern side of Washington State seem many but they pale in comparison to the wonderful humanity shared by all these diverse groups. We really are all doing our very best to live sanely; and that is hard to do no matter which area of the cultural or social spectrum one one identifies most closely with.
We all yearn for a slightly
different Good Old Days;
None of which ever existed
Except in imagination. Is
That true of the present
Too? Makes you wonder…
Soon I’ll have bit of a routine that I’ll get used to and just settle in more at the temple and just do the practice. I’ve made some good new friends and re-established some old friendships and have a growing confidence that I will learn what I need to learn from my sojurn to this part of the world and that the next step(s) will unfold and become apparent in due course.
I’m a little behind in keeping in touch with friends from Tekoa and other parts of country because I’ve felt a little like a traveller for the last six months or so, and so I have been of course, but there hasn’t really been a destination and that has been unsettling until I realized I’m not travelling as much as being in transit, from where to where is still not clear, but there certainly has been movement.
I’m learning some new things internally that have to do with accepting me as I am, moment to moment, and to drop my preconditions as to what constitutes an acceptable world, one suitable for The Great One, and all his(my) complex wishes and wants.
Note to self:
Must drop dream of personal past;
Present description of self, and the
Future as it should be outcoming
For this wish and demand riddled,
Foolishly inclined and hope filled
Returner to the eternal Now. Where
Dreams and wishes become a puff
Of Golden smoke that wafts through
The air in This direction, and then That.