May 24, 2002
Edited by Gloria Lee
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The Coffee-house of Surat
Short story excerpt
By Leo Tolstoy (1828 -1910)
Translated by Louise Maude
December 26, 2001
"So on matters of faith," continued the Chinaman, the student of Confucius, "it is pride that causes
error and discord among men. As with the sun so it is with God. Each man wants to have a special God
of his own, or at least a special God for his native land. Each nation wishes to confine in its own temples
Him whom the world cannot contain. Can any temple compare with that which God Himself has built to
unite all men in one faith and one religion?
"All human temples are built on the model of this temple, which is God's own world. Every temple has its
fonts, its vaulted roof, its lamps, its pictures or sculptures, its inscriptions, its books of the law, its
offerings, its altars, and its priests. But in what temple is there such a font as the ocean; such a vault as
that of the heavens; such lamps as the sun, moon, and stars; or any figures to be compared with living,
loving, mutually-helpful men? Where are there any records of God's goodness so easy to understand as
the blessings which He has strewn abroad for man's happiness? Where is there any book of the law so
clear to each man as that written in his heart? What sacrifices equal the self-denials which loving men
and women make for one another? And what alter can be compared with the heart of a good man on
which God Himself accepts the sacrifice?
"The higher a man's conception of God the better will he know Him. And the better he knows God the
nearer will he draw to Him, imitating His goodness, His mercy, and His love of man. Therefore, let him
who sees the sun's whole light filling the world, refrain from blaming or despising the superstitious man
who in his own idol sees one ray of that same light. Let him not despise even the unbeliever who is blind
and cannot see the sun at all."
So spoke the Chinaman, the student of Confucius; and all who were present in the coffee-house were
silent, and they disputed no more as to whose faith was the best.
posted by ALTON on Million Paths
Ram Dass in Still Here
Before I had
the stroke, I was full of fears about aging, and one of my
major fears was about the sicknesses that might be lurking ahead. Gandhi
says that before you can get to God, you've got to confront your fears. The
stroke took me through one of my deep fears, and I'm here to report that
'the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.'
This chapter is an antidote to fear, because reading what this experience
has been like for me will give you a map. It's like you're on a rafting
trip, and you're about to hit some rapids. I've just been through one of
those sets of rapids, and maybe my experiences can help you figure out how
to handle the rapids when you encounter them.
Over the years, I've done practices to confront my fear of change, of
which the fear of death is the foremost. In Benares, I visited the
cremation grounds at the ghats. I sat there in meditation on the side of
the Ganges, a sacred river. Bodies were being burned all around me; I
smelled the burning flesh, watched the eldest son break open the father's
skull with a stick to release his spirit. I'd overcome a lot of my fears
about death and change through practices like that, but there still was an
undercurrent of fear in my mind; I was in my 60s, I was 'getting up there.'
The stroke happened to me for many different reasons, including karmic and
spiritual ones. But on the physical level, one of the reasons for the
stroke was that I had been ignoring my body. I had spent most of my life
keeping my Awareness 'free of my body,' as I thought of it then; but I can
see now that I was also ignoring my body, pushing it away. By forgetting to
take my blood pressure medicine, I showed how I was disregarding my body.
By ignoring the early signs that something was wrong when I was diving in
the Carribean, I was disregarding my body. By over-committing myself, never
saying 'no' no matter what my body was telling me, I was disregarding it.
So then came the stroke.
For some days after the stroke, I was just observing. Not thinking, just
observing. A friend described me during those first days as being
wide-eyed, watching everything that was taking place with a kind of wonderment.
Perceptions from the outside and from the inside were sometimes very
different. At one point I was in what the doctors called a 'non-reactive
state,' and they thought I might die. From the outside, I was an object of
concern and a cause for apprehension. But inside, I was just floating
peacefully. My body was present, but it was irrelevant. It was like I was
looking through a window, and the scene through the window had in it the
hospital, and me, and the doctors, and everybody else - but I was outside
looking in. I was really floating out there'.
After awhile, as I started to become aware of the symptoms of the stroke,
my thoughts began to come in on me. I worried for awhile about what had
happened: Where had the stroke gone in my brain? How bad was it? I didn't
know the answers to those questions for a long time, and that was scary.
How long would the domino effect of symptoms go on? As one thing after
another 'went out' on me after the stroke - my knee, my hip, my shoulder,
my ankle - I didn't know what would go next. How long would the pain go on
- would it be days, or months, or years? I worried what the effect would be
of just sitting in my wheelchair all the time, unable to move around and
exercise in the usual way. That flood of questions carried strong elements
of fear with it.
To work with the fear, I turned to my practices. The stroke called on all
the practices I'd learned over the years: Vipassana meditation, jnana yoga,
bhakti, guru kripa - at different points and in different situations I used
them all. But in that particular crisis I found that I turned to Ramana
Maharshi's practice of 'I am not this body.' I would note each part of my
body, and I would say, 'I am not my arm. I am not my leg. I am not my
brain.' That helped me avoid getting caught in the mind's fears and the
In the months
that followed, though, I came to appreciate that, however
wonderful it is as a practice, 'I am not this body' is only half the truth.
The stroke brought me squarely in touch with the fact that, although I
certainly am more than my body, I also am my body. The stroke brought my
Awareness into my body in a powerful way, with an array of physical
symptoms: paralysis, aphasia, pain. The stroke 'grounded' me, in both
meanings of the word: it brought me in touch with the earth plane, with my
body, and it made me stay at home. I used to be traveling constantly, but
when you're traveling in a wheelchair, planes aren't much fun. So this
illness 'grounded' me, and taught me what everyone else already knew: that
it's nice to be at home.
posted by JAN SULTAN on Million Paths
"The black-hole donut."
The trick, for the quick-witted, is to roll
up into a little ball,
all that thought that sustains "you", and as the mass grows, it
approaches neural star-hood, eventually attaining:
white dwarf, red giant, neutron star,
and the ultimate, black-hole:"The black-hole donut"
- while, novaeing all the way (en-lightening).
HIGH DEE on NDS
Ever try driving on the highway only looking in the
rear view mirror?
ANDREW MACNAB on NDS
Like the guy who kept looking in the rear view mirror for a
cop that might be
following him. Suddenly he hits the car in front of him. It's a cop.
(adapted from the song, A Lot Like Life, by M.
JERRY KATZ on NDS
Failure (,) to communicate Here
in the world
(is) your own (wake)
(wake in the sea
err- tire tracks in the mud?
(cherryblossoms and peeperfrogs)
ANDREW MACNAB on NDS
It was impossible to behold the donut, when the
desire for it had gone.
AL LARUS on NDS
of the female void
primal soup simmers.
In chemical muck
the first single celled organism
They grow in the ocean
They eat each other and
in morphogenic fields of possibility.
in no time at all
into magnetic body fields.
The body is a drug...
as powerful as anything
I can stick into it.
Hard prick the syringe
where a snake slithers
in the bush.
Near the entrance
a heretic spreads confusion
like a disease
The moment tastes
like a cold, dusty coffee
and there's waiting
at a watchtower
for some post-modern fall-out;
the cleansing, the blessing
to blow it all away.
You know it's a sucker's bet
to place the date of
the end of the world.
Besides apocalypse is now, I
The post-modern demolition
an event horizon only to be chased forever.
Could we mask all our pain
with a post-modern make-over?
When post-modern catches up
with the primitive...
When what matters
While on my way near an
on the highway there's a sacred cow.
I pass a billboard.
It says, 'Killing Time'
...and I can smell
the scent of leather
amidst the post-modern
Experience ~InkBlot Poetry~
Bring a Friend...
There was a time, a very long time,
when eeevvveeery time i would meditate in silence,
the image of Guru's throat being severed, appeared.
It was very disconcerting, to say the least,
to say the very least, as You might well imagine.
i thought i was losing my mind! What i had sort of hoped for,
but not in such a graphically-induced way! Ha! HaHaHa!
As if i could manipulate reality to my own idea of That!
God really did a number on me when He ripped me open.
Sure, there were plenty of visions and miraculous things,
but, "what good is all of this to me" i thought,
when i was going to a beheading each night i meditated.
so i plugged along and broke my Heart with sadness,
no, not really sadness, but some Divine Love Sorrows kind of thing.
This image gradually started fading, and still i never understood it.
i just stopped thinking about it and was real glad it had ceased.
And then i met Mr. O'Hearn, that funny guy with the fresh voice.
Suddenly, everything started becoming so clear to me.
i understood why i had been always lopping off Guruji's head.
Man oh man was i ever surprised to see how simple it all was.
Of course, why yes of course! i was meeting the Buddha on the road!
Having chopped wood and carried water for so ridiculously long,
i just wanted to toss everything into the River of Love,
and so i did it. i did it and said adios to all those old rituals,
and i gave up all the doctrine indoctrinated, to some fine charity.
Someone might really find a lot of great stuff in there.
i know i did and i know i would not do it any differently,
and i also know that i am so giddily glad that my Guru,
that this most exquisitely Beautiful One offered me his head,
offered me the opportunity to take a whack at an illusion.
Like a somewhat Gopherized-God getting hit upside the head with a mallet,
i only think of what You might say about anything i say, and so we say,
We say, "This love is so Utterly Unspeakable i cannot define It, ever."
What a clown and what a queen and what a fool i surely was.
i actually thought it might be some old dark force trying to scare me!
God i was really so fu, fu, fu, well You know, i was really messed up.
And Wow! to think such an ignorant thing at my stage in life, and what is that?
Stages, give me a break would you! There are no such things at all.
It's one big Moment always happening, and there are no stages,
there are no roads to meet some Buddha, and no heads to swiftly sever!
God am i so Crazy-Happy to be finally free from all of that,
and there You go again, for who was ever bound by anything, ever?!
Who is there to be free and what would that be like anyway if there was?
Maybe some drooling old yogi who once thought loyalty meant,
thought and really did believe it, that getting God was like getting lucky.
You, or rather i, only had to keep saying it over and over endlessly,
parroting, "i'll be loyal, i'll be loyal," and yadda-nada-no! It's not what He wants!
Master never wanted me to be some blinded and stuttering follower,
He really, really didn't want that. i know it like i know that i Love my Darling,
Absolomly-camely and calmed me completely like a somatized slapping,
and yes, so why and what for, so why keep me chopping his head off?
Well, my Beloved Guruji just wanted to instruct me a little differently,
in a slightly-slantedly off-beat way from all the other little devotees.
i never heard of anyone else having to do a Samurai on their guru!
Did you ever hear of such an insane thing that someone would have to do?
Gee Whiz! What did i know about anything, about anything at all,
until my Beloved came and showed me what the road to Nowhere looked like?
He talked to me and said, "See this pathless path and gateless gate?
Well we're about to go a wandering around there together and Be Just That."
And i just said okay, "Okay my Sweet, let's get a move on, time's a wasting."
Ha! and i could and should go Ha! Go ha all night long at my lack of Clarity.
Head-lifting, Throat-slicing, Image-breaking, All One Movement not Moving.
i got to get out of here before i really look foolish, court jestor kind of foolish,
so, i say, "See Ya my Pretties! See Y'all sooner than Ya might think!
And don't let the blade get too dull, You'll need It, i think You might need It!"
Knee-slappingly and hand-clappingly too free with that cutting away of heads, No?
MAZIE LANE on HarshaSatsangh