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Highlights #1217 - Friday, October 4, 2002 - Editor: Gloria Lee
What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the
homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name
of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy? --
Mahatma Gandhi, "Non-Violence in Peace and War"
St. Catherine of Siena
NO ONE WILL BEGRUDGE ME
I talk about it sometimes with Him, all the suffering in the world.
"Dear God," I have prayed, "how is it possible
all the horrors I have seen, all the atrocities you allow man
to commit when you--God--are ever standing
so near and could help us?
Could we not hear your voice say 'No'
with such love and power
never again would
And my Lord replied, "Who would understand if I said that I
to confine a wing, and not let it learn from the course it chooses."
But what of a man walking lost in a forest
weeping and calling your name for help, and unknown to him he
is heading for a covered pit with sharp spears in it
that will maim his flesh when he crashes
through the trap?
"Yes, why don't I remove every object from this world that could
cause someone to weep? Yes, why don't I speak in a way
that could save a life?
I opened up my mouth and the Infinite ran to the edges of space--
and all possibilities are contained therein, all possibilities,
In the end, nothing that ever caused one pain will exist,
No one will begrudge Me.
The Absolute Innocence of all within my Creation
takes a while to understand."
~St. Catherine of Siena
Grind up the pure light and wipe it away.
Step into the pure light.
It's there, it flutters like a flag.
No need to melt it down again.
It's everywhere, in the humidity.
In the white gill of the silver thread.
There is a saying: it lulls you.
You can make a little nose from the light.
Which breathes boats, graves and air,
The wall of the white we.
- Tomaz Salamun
A Net Of Jewels
Gems from Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj's Conversations
"I find that somehow, by shifting the focus of attention, I
become the very thing I look at, and experience the kind of
consciousness it has; I become the inner witness of the thing. I call
this capacity of entering other focal points of consciousness, love;
you may give it any name you like.
"I am everything".
"I am nothing".
Between the two, my life flows.
Since at any point of time and space I can be both the subject and
the object of experience, I express it by saying that I am both, and
neither, and beyond both."
~ Sri Nisargadatta
Ignorance doesn't understand that the Dharma is both relative and
absolute; that there is a middle way which reconciles without
contradiction apparent opposites.
To say that contradiction is not contradiction is not a contradiction. To
explain that a pair of opposites describe a whole, a oneness, leaves
contradiction out of it. It becomes 'apparent contradiction,' not real
contradiction, and nothing to argue about. For example, there is a
postmodern philosophical technique which mines truth from simply
reversing the terms of an assertion, and combining the two. You may
assert, "Men are stronger than women." Acknowledging that there is
truth in that statement, I may nonetheless assert, "Women are
stronger than men." Recognizing that there is also truth in that
assertion, we may come to aggreement, that in some senses the one
statement is true, while in other senses the other statement is true.
And thus truth is found in reconciling apparently opposite statements.
This is why absolute truth is so often expressed in paradoxical terms,
eg "doing non-doing' (*wei wu wei*).
Dave: You write that any assertion will have an equally valid
opposite. You write that that is your view. You use the words 'In my
view' twice in that paragraph. To hold that view as a definite, means
that you do not hold the opposite view - and so in practice you do not
live by what you state. (Organised anarchists have a similar problem.)
To write that an assertion has a valid opposite is not an independent
assertion, it is a statement affirming non-duality. To assert that the
views I express are no fixed views and that they complete
themselves by seeing how they and their opposites are both true
does mean that I do not hold (or at least honor) the opposite view as
well as the view I express. Buddhism views things from both
absolute and phenomenal side. One can assert each side and be
understood to be affirming a middle view in which both sides are
seen to be true.
Thich Nhat Hanh, In "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, says:
In the *Discourse on the Turning of the Wheel of the Dharma*, the
Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths of suffering, the cause of
suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path. But in the *Heart
Sutra*, the Buddha Avalokiteshvara tells us that there is no suffering,
no cause of suffering, no cessation of suffering, and no path. Is this a
contradiction? No. the Buddha is speaking in terms of relative truth,
and Avalokiteshvara is teaching in terms of absolute truth. When
Avaloketishvara says there is no suffering, he means that suffering is
made entirely of things that are not suffering. Whether you suffer
depends on many circumstances. The cold air can be painful if you
are not wearing enough clothes, but with proper clothing, cold air
can be a source of joy. Suffering is not objective. It depends largely
on the way you perceive. There are things that cause you to suffer
but do not cause others to suffer. There are things that bring you joy
but do not bring others joy. The Four Noble Truths were presented
by the Buddha as relative truth to help you enter the door of practice,
but they are not his highest teaching. With the eyes of interbeing we
can always reconcile the Two Truths. When we see, comprehend,
and touch the nature of interbeing, we see the Buddha.
*All conditioned things are impermanent.
*They are phenomena, subject to birth and death.
*When birth and death no longer are,
*the complete silencing is joy.
This verse (*gatha*) was spoken by the Buddha shortly before his
death. The first two lines express relative truth, while the third and
fourth lines express absolute truth. "All conditioned things" includes
physical, physiological, and psychological phenomena. "Complete
silencing" means nirvana, the extinction of all concepts. When the
Buddha says, "The complete silencing is joy," he means that
thinking, conceptualizing, and speaking have come to an end. This is
the Third Noble Truth in absolute terms.
In the gathat quoted above, the Buddha appears perhaps to be
contradicting himself, but in true understanding is seen not to be
doing so. The Discourse on the Turning the Wheel of the Dharma
appears to contradict the Heart Sutra. But these contradictions are
apparent, not real. They are what TNH calls "The Two Views." Thus
I can express a phenomenal view and then an absolute view, and
there may appear to be a paradox but there is no contradiction. Like,
"Real practice is non-practice; real doing is non-doing." Or, I vow to
save all being but I recognize there are no beings to save. Or as the
Tao Te Ching says, "I do nothing and nothing is left undone."
"The Pivot" also treats of this subject.
The Pivot (Chuang-tzu)
Tao is obscured when men understand only one of a pair of
opposites, or concentrate only on a partial aspect of being. Then
clear expression also becomes muddled by mere wordplay,
affirming this one aspect and denying the rest.
Hence the wrangling of Confucians and Mohists; each denies what
the other affirms, and affirms what the other denies. What use is this
struggle to set up "No" against "Yes," and "Yes" against "No"?
Better to abandon this hopeless effort and seek true light!
There is nothing that cannot be seen from the standpoint of the
"Not-I." And there is nothing which cannot be seen from the
standpoint of the "I." If I begin by looking at anything from the
viewpoint of the "Not-I," then I do not really see it, since it is "not I"
that sees it. If I begin from where I am and see it as I see it, then it
may also become possible for me to see it as another sees it. Hence
the theory of reversal that opposites produce each other, depend on
each other, and complement each other.
However this may be, life is followed by death; death is followed by
life. The possible becomes impossible; the impossible becomes
possible. Right turns into wrong and wrong into right - the flow of
life alters circumstances and thus things themselves are altered in
their turn. But disputants continue to affirm and deny the same things
they have always affirmed and denied, ignoring the new aspects of
reality presented by the change in conditions.
The wise man therefore, instead of trying to prove this or that point
by logical disputation, sees all things in the light of direct intuition.
He is not imprisoned by the limitations of the "I," for the viewpoint
of direct intuition is that of both "I" and "Not-I." Hence he sees that
on both sides of every argument there is both right and wrong. He
also sees that in the end they are reducible to the same thing, once
they are related to the pivot of the Tao.
When the wise man grasps this pivot, he is in the center of the circle,
and there he stands while "Yes" and "No" pursue each other around
The pivot of Tao passes through the center where all affirmations and
denials converge. He who grasps the pivot is at the still-point from
which all movements and oppositions can be seen in their right
relationship. Hence he sees the limitless possibilities of both "Yes"
and "No." Abandoning all thought of imposing a limit or taking sides,
he rests in direct intuition. Therefore I said: "Better to abandon
disputation and seek the true light!"
The divine manifestation is ubiquitous,
Only our eyes are not open to it. . . .
Awe is what moves us forward. . . .
Live from your own center. . . .
The divine lives within you.
The separateness apparent in the world is secondary.
Beyond the world of opposites is an unseen,
but experienced, unity and identity in us all.
Today the planet is the only proper in group.
Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.
We cannot cure the world of sorrows,
but we can choose to live in joy.
You must return with the bliss and integrate it.
The return is seeing the radiance is everywhere.
The world is a match for us.
We are a match for the world.
The spirit is the bouquet of nature. . . .
Sanctify the place you are in. Follow your bliss. . . .
~ Joseph Campbell
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Open Source Spirit
I am certain - without doubt - that you have many talents, many
gifts that flow from your open loving heart.
In this life - on this perfect little living planet of beauty and horror,
creation and destruction, tenderness and cruelty - where I try to
awaken from my enslaving dream of fear, separation and
judgment - the One Love flows through my heart and yours and
we try our best - each in our own way - to follow the calling of an
individual fire of passion that Love has kindled within us. Our
individuated way of expressing the One.
Some have a divine passion for the expression of Love's beauty
through word images; some express the Love through visual
arts; some with music; some with intellectual or scientific
exploration; some with dance or song; some with lovemaking;
some with being a parent; some with the tending of gardens;
some with the preparation of food; some with the caring of a sick
loved one; some with a gentle touch or smile; some with
laughter; some with tears; some with silence.
A list of the various "somes" and how each human expresses
Love - would be vast.
Still, all the "somes" are of the One - in such an awesome infinite
Words - whether cooked with Love or laced with poison - are all
"Signs of the Unseen One". I feel that in a very beautiful
way - you and me and each of us and everything - are visible
"signs" of the One.
Adding again one of my favorite conglomeration of letters and
words written by Canada's open hearted honest mystic poet
extraordinaire, Leonard Cohen:
you can add up the parts
but you won't have the sum
you can strike up the march
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to Love will come
but like a refugee.
from Paul Reps "Zen Flesh, Zen Bones":
50. Ryonen's Clear Realization
The Buddhist nun known as Ryonen was born in
1797. She was a granddaughter of the famous
Japanese warrior Shingen. Her poetical genius
and alluring beauty were such that at seventeen
she was serving the empress as one of the ladies
of the court. Even at such a youthful age fame
The beloved empress died suddenly and
Ryonen's hopeful dreams vanished. She became
acutely aware of the impermanence of life in this
world. It was then that she desired to study Zen.
Her relatives disagreed, however, and practi-
cally forced her into marriage. With a promise
that she might become a nun after she had borne
three children, Ryonen assented. Before she was
twenty-five she had accomplished this condition.
Then her husband and her relatives could no longer
dissuade her from her desire. She shaved her
head, took the name of Ryonen, which means to
realize clearly, and started on her pilgrimage.
She came to the city of Edo and asked Tet-
sugyu to accept her as a disciple. At one glance
the master rejected her because she was too
Ryonen then went to another master, Hakuo.
Hakuo refused her for the same reason, saying
that her beauty would only make trouble.
Ryonen obtained a hot iron and placed it
against her face. In a few moments her beauty
had vanished forever.
Hakuo then accepted her as a disciple.
Commemorating this occasion, Ryonen wrote a
poem on the back of a little mirror:
*In the service of my Empress I burned in-
cense to perfume my exquisite clothes,
Now as a homeless mendicant I burn my
face to enter a Zen temple.*
When Ryonen was about to pass from this
world, she wrote another poem:
*Sixty-six times have these eyes beheld the
changing scene of autumn.
I have said enough about moonlight,
Ask no more.
Only listen to the voice of pines and cedars
when no wind stirs.*
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