Monthly Archives: November 2015

Thanks, but no thanks…

This day is one of gratefulness and reflection.

Today I reflect on all the things I’m grateful that I either no longer have or have to hold on too.

All the things that have changed for me, from being impediments to being  channels for spiritual growth.

All those restricting views of life and others and my relationship to them.  Those fears of not getting what I want.

Those fears of old age, disease, death and of life itself at times.

That fear of  something being wrong and it will never get better.

That fear of things going well, but that it won’t last.

Those fears of not living up to the story I have concocted about how life should be.

Those doubts that I do not measure up to a full human being.

I am also grateful for the things that are in my life today.

The appearance of choice in how I view the world and my place in it.

The knowledge that I make mistakes, the part where I see the mistake and want to do better is the part that makes me human, and that is not a mistake.

I offer merit and good wishes to all beings, especially those raised and killed for the purpose of pure indulgence, and all others who are in circumstances they would rather not be in, if they had a choice.

The Five Thoughts From Zen Mealtime Ceremony:

  1. We must think deeply of the ways and means by which this food has come.
  2. We must consider our merit when accepting it.
  3. We must protect ourselves from error by excluding greed from our minds.
  4. We will eat lest we become lean and die.
  5. We accept this food so that we may become enlightened.

But even then, it’s never…

Rainy Tuesday. Did some writing on something I’m working on and had to clarify a memory for myself and realized, one more time the depth of the teachings which I try to take to heart. A friend sent a text with a photo of a page from one of our scriptures, a writing by Zen Master Dogen, founder of the Soto Zen sect in Japan in the early 13th century.

Time flies quicker than an arrow and life passes with greater transience than the dew. However skillful you may be, how can you ever recall a single day of the past? Should you live for a hundred years just wasting your time, every day and month will be filled with sorrow; should you drift  as the slave of your senses for a hundred years and yet live truly for so much as a single day, you will, in that one day, not only live a hundred years of life but also save a hundred years of your future life. The life of this one day, to-day, is absolutely vital life; your body is deeply significant. Both your life and your body deserve love and respect for it is by their agency that Truth is practiced and the Buddha’s power exhibited: the seed of all Buddhist activity, and of all Buddhahood, is the true practice of Preceptual Truth.”

She was on her way to work and was struck by that passage in her morning reading and shared it with me.

I try to keep that thought in my heart all the time. I also engage in a recovery program that helped start my journey in Buddhist training 32 years ago, and one of its slogans is one-day-at-a-time. Today this is one of the deepest spiritual principles (and very practical too), I know. So every day when I set forth on whatever I have to do outside of my residence and living space, I say goodby to it, because I realize that the sunrise does not guarantee the sunset. I may never return.

I feel a freedom in that activity because it connects me to the reality of life itself. We are astoundingly vulnerable creatures; another creature (microbes), we cannot see without a microscope, can kill us, and, they do kill all of us eventually.

We call it dying, they see it as continuing their lives.

Of course they will then cede the territory they have inhabited to other small creatures who will feed on our bodies (and theirs), in various ways and the circle does indeed remain unbroken. The understanding and acceptance of this basic fact ( Which is very difficult to do, especially in our modern mighty-medicine-can-conquer-all, times), is very freeing.

The leaves have fallen. Let the raking begin. Don’t discard the leaves. They are food for the trees growth in the next new cycle.

Every moment is significant.

The only ones we waste are the ones we haven’t learned from. We can still learn from the ones we may have wasted in the past. It is never too late.

Until, of course, it’s too late…


Small corns are funky.

Sitting in an artist’s apartment eating Pho noodles with those funky (Yeah they literally are, funky: as in the old school Black inflected Ameri-speak that connoted an odor/taste that partook of particulate matter in the air generated by past body odors generated by different body parts unwashed and bodily fluids not completely rinsed off and left to molder in a room, an apartment, a car, on a person or items of clothing. A smell. Earthy, the natural left-over effluvia of lives lived close. The smells of human life and activities. Real. Funky.), little corncobs that seem to appear only in Asian food mixtures. This was a rice noodle Pho with some weak broth and few  veggies including those little corn cobs. They, funky small corncobs, will fuck up a nice little noodle stew or any other dish. What’s up with those little corn cobs?

I say don’t shrink corn!  It makes it funky. I’m sorry, but funk has no place in a soup. Period.

Anyway, in the conversation I was mentioning that during a previous days discussion I was having with someone else about some aspects of Buddhism, that person had asked a very good question; and the young artist I was sharing noodles with, asked, “What’s a good question?”

What a good question.

Turns out I have no answer that’s actually worth noting, but I’m gonna, because all good questions end in nowhere. A good question can either be answered yes or no: or, they provoke such a flurry of mental stimulation that no conclusion worthy of the name is ever reached. A good question begets more questions.

Before I digress, I just want to say that…(many hours pass)…Little corn cobs should be outlawed, or at least be a controlled substance out of reach of the hands of those who don’t know Funk does not belong in soup.

It ain’t right.

Then again, who am I to judge those little corncobs? Don’t they have Buddha Nature too?

The questions are proliferating like little corncobs. And that ain’t right neither.


Comma entry…

This little mind leaps and plays and, jumps and whoops and hollers, and goes wandering and wondering about this, and that;

encountering joy and grief and, contentment and sorrow, with and without understanding and swimming in, yesterday and tomorrow; at times the play leads to the edge and there are slips and falls, and landings, that hurt and break, yet teach, and on it jumps, and whoops and hollers;

the process of reform, unrefined and unbound and, knowing and not knowing, coming and going standing and sitting sleeping and, tossing and turning crying and laughing, affirming and, negating knowing the seeing of wish, and dream and the real and the apparent are, like a belt being cinched in its buckle;

necessary and practical, and useful, effort required, but with repetition the habit takes no real energy away, from any other doing’s that things, require.

shoe, plane, canoe, train…

I was sitting in a meeting the other day and was once again moved by one simple fact. That everyone who was in attendance had an intention at some point during their day to come to that meeting. Whether they arrived by plane, shoe, train, canoe, camel, car; from near or afar; through snow, rain, heat or cold, healthy or infirm; nuts or not so, they came.

With the express purpose to share their hearts and listen to others do the same. To attempt, to the best of their individual abilities, to speak the truth about themselves. Their past, their present and their futures. The fears and doubts and worries and conflicts; the dread, the grief, the joy, the crushing of hope, the release from despair, that they experienced that day, or the one before, or expect to experience tomorrow or days to follow.With any luck and a variety of efforts.

They come to commune in the ways of the heart and mind and the expectations of hope and the profound mystery of trying to re-connect, to bind on to the thing that they feel disconnected from, somehow, and they have no real idea of what That is. Oh, they do have ideas but they question them and doubt them and want to believe and ascribe magical powers and mysterious ways and unknown guiding hand properties to that from which they feel disconnected.

And yet, not knowing what that it is, they sense that, if they come together, and speak of this life and the crushing beatings they administered to themselves in the mistaken idea that they could connect to that from which felt separated from, by using alcohol, drugs, sex, money, power, fame, and all the distractions and diversions that keep us in a state of ignorance, yearning, and bewilderment. Those states of mind where we have no sense of the present, know only regret and remorse over past time wasted, and a fear of the future based on that misappropriation of time already spent.

There we all sat and talked of the past and the present and the future and our current places in that journey. The whole human form (forum), and diversity thereof; sitting and talking and listening and hearing and communing and distracting and attending and drifting in and out mentally, emotionally and physically during that hour of trying to touch one and the other, heart to heart, feeling to feeling, mind to mind, aspiration and desperation, contentment and fear, hope and despair, attempt and resistance, reaching for and pushing against; each other and ourselves. To continue this puny and wondrous intent to connect with each other and to connect to that which we know not what it is but never the less, we feel separated from. Is it inside or outside of us? It is both?

Discussion to be continued on another day in another room. In another town, city, village or neighborhood. Another church basement or venerably scruffy hall, rented or owned, sometimes with good coffee, sometimes not so, often with cake, cookies, donuts. Folding chairs and beat up couches and other stationary conveyances for seekers of a truth that will begin the journey of freedom from the bongage of the Self. A journey to another shore. Across oceans, rivers, lakes, and sometimes just a ditch. A journey in the true sense of the word. Ask the Sun.