Monthly Archives: January 2021

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


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.