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Highlights #1324 - Sunday, January 19, 2002 - Editor: Gloria Lee  

Poem in photo by Han Shan  


Peace in Action 

by Thich Nhat Hanh

"For ten years
we had a beautiful green garden.
For twenty years
the sun always shone on our thatched roofs.
My mother came out and called me home.
I came to the front yard
near the kitchen
to wash my feet
and warm my hands over the rosy hearth,
waiting for our evening meal
as the curtain of night
fell slowly on our village.

I will never grow up
no matter how long I live.
Just yesterday, I saw a band
of golden butterflies fluttering above our garden.
The mustard greens were bursting with bright yellow flowers.

Mother and sister, you are always with me.
The gentle afternoon breeze is your breathing.
I am not dreaming of some distant future.
I just touch the wind and hear your sweet song.
It seems like only yesterday that you told me,
"If one day, you find everything destroyed,
then look for me in the depths of your heart."

I am back. Someone is singing.
My hand touches the old gate,
and I ask, "What can I do to help?"
The wind replies,
"Smile. Life is a miracle.
Be a flower.
Happiness is not built of bricks and stones."

I understand. We don't want to cause each other pain.
I search for you day and night.
The trees grope for one another in the stormy night.
The lightning flash reassures them
they are close to one another.

My brother, be a flower standing along the wall.
Be a part of this wondrous being.
I am with you. Please stay.
Our homeland is always within us.
Just as when we were children,
we can still sing together.

This morning, I wake up and discover
that I've been using the sutras as my pillow.
I hear the excited buzzing of the diligent bees
preparing to rebuild the universe.
Dear ones, the work of rebuilding
may take thousands of lifetimes,
but it has also already been completed
just that long ago.
The wheel is turning,
carrying us along.
Hold my hand, brother, and you will see clearly
that we have been together
for thousands of lifetimes.

My mother's hair is fresh and long.
It touches her heels.
The dress my sister hangs out to dry
is still sailing in the wind
over our green yard.

It was an autumn morning
with a light breeze.
I am really standing in our backyard--
the guava trees, the fragrance of ripe mangoes,
the red maple leaves scurrying about
like little children at our feet.

A song drifts from across the river.
Bales of silky, golden hay
traverse the bamboo bridge.
Such fragrance!

As the moon rises above
the bamboo thicket,
we play together
near the front gate.
I am not dreaming.
This is a real day, a beautiful one.
Do we want to return to the past
and play hide-and-seek?
We are here today,
and we will be here tomorrow.
This is true.
Come, you are thirsty.
We can walk together
to the spring of fresh water.

Someone says that God has consented
for mankind to stand up and help Him.
We have walked hand in hand
since time immemorial.
If you have suffered, it is only
because you have forgotten
you are a leaf, a flower.

The chrysanthemum is smiling at you.
Don't dip your hands into cement and sand.
The stars never build prisons for themselves.

Let us sing with the flower and the morning birds.
Let us be fully present.
I know you are here because I can look into your eyes.
Your hands are as beautiful as chrysanthemums.
Do not let them be transformed
into gears, hooks, and ropes.

Why speak of the need to love one another?
Just be yourself.
You don't need to become anything else.

Let me add one testimony of my own.
Please listen as if I were
a bubbling spring.

And bring mother. I want to see her.
I shall sing for you, my dear sister,
and your hair will grow as long as mother's."

~Thich Nhat Hanh

From the book, "Learning True Love," by Chahn Khong, published by Parallax Press.

from Daily Dharma



Like many others, they were drawn by the power of silence, the natural beauty and
the warm, though distanced, hospitality of the monks who live, work and worship

Monastery retreats are places of peace


"Voices rise to protest winds of war" on the Rocky Mountain News Web site:,1299,DRMN_15_1682311,00.html

"Gandhi once said that almost anything that you do will be insignificant, but you must
do it," Swing said, "and the reason is expressed by another adage: We do these things
not to change the world, but to keep the world from changing us."

from NDS News by Jerry Katz



Hey guys, if you want to take a break with a great and funny book, I recommend Mr.
Spaceman by the Pulitzer Prize winning author, Robert Olen Butler. It is a delightful
tale involving a skinny spaceman named Desi and his wive, Mrs. Edna Bradshaw.
Whom he met and courted at the Bovary Wal-Mart. But the book isn't about just their

Desi listens to humans and stores the memories within himself, and treasures the story
teller's unique being forever. It's his job. He is a spaceman. He is polite and wears a
nametag. He believes in Abundant Living. 

Desi must reveal himself on midnight of the new millenium. Edna is understandably
concerned but she knows her spaceman has his work. 

Desi isn't sure what to do. He must follow orders but time is running out. With the aid
of 12 gamblers riding in a bus named Luck (the last abduction) Desi finds his options
to ensure his safety and fulfill his mission are becoming too narrow. For the first time
in his long long life, he dreams. The last stories Desi hears will haunt you with their
poignant understanding of humans and our world of words and wants.

Edna does a marvelous job of keeping everyone fed and feeling comfortable.   

Desi asks himself why he is here. I am. He loves Edna very much. He is a nice guy.
He has eight fingers on each hand. His eyes are large. He isn't a 98 pound weakling.
He's 86 pounds and pound for pound four times stronger than you or me. He is.


ISBN 0-8021-1660-4 Grove Press New York  

from NDS by Michael Read



Little Me Dream  
What did you see
My beautiful little one
My beautiful little one
Through sweet eyes
Sad soft scared eyes

Bright laughter howling cries

Time unknown words unlearned
My beautiful little one
My beautiful little one
Through open living eyes
Dreaming gleaming eyes





Lady taken by Dad... First Holy Communion  

"That was beautiful. Oh, more thing...Give your tears to me." says Maharshi gently.  "Thank you, Maharshi...says Joyce, as the tears begin to well up in her eyes...As her body begins to shake with the grief that comes to the surface, she says.  "Take my tears, Maharshi, please." Slowly, she calms down, thankful for the grace that is always there. The Light is gone now, but the Grace is still there and Joyce is at peace again, for the moment.  Lady Joyce watches quietly, glad that she is the 7 year old in the moment that is now.

For you see, Lady Joyce knows that Maharshi knows that Joyce’s tears are because she does not want to walk throught the Valley of the Shadow of the Death Penalty, but she knows it is the right thing to do. It is time for her to dig in the dirt again.  Lady Joyce knows that Joyce is not afraid.  She also knows that Joyce still feels the pain, very much.  It is the pain that Joyce does not want to feel.  But it is all an illusion, isn't it?

So, she will walk, hand in hand with the divine, In surrender to the request, no idea of the outcome.  But that cannot matter.  For the reward is in the surrender alone.   She and Lady Joyce turn away, and begin to walk together hand in hand. Lady Joyce begins and Joyce joins in..."though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I shall fear no evil." Joyce looks down at Lady Joyce and says quietly..."for I walk hand in hand with the Divine."  Joyce kneels down and puts her arms around Lady Joyce.  Lady Joyce wraps her arms around Joyce as they join together in the Light......seamlessly at the Heart ...only in the oneness of Divinity.

(excerpt from longer post on HarshaSatsangh)

Gems from Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj's Conversations

"Before the mind--I am.  "I am" is not a thought in the mind; the mind
happens to me, I do not happen to the mind.  And since time and space are in
the mind, I am beyond time and space, eternal and omnipresent."

from A Net of Jewels


we are all affecting the world every moment,
whether we mean to or not.
Our actions and states of mind matter,
because we're so deeply interconnected with one another.
Working on our own consciousness
is the most important thing that we are doing at any moment,
and being love is the supreme creative act." 

~ Ram Dass

From the website, ,Ram Dass quotation collection.
Daily Dharma


Getting Concrete  

Ideas actually fragment the vision, intuition, or experience of reality as
a whole.  This is what the mystics are perpetually telling us.  Words
cannot give you reality.  They only point, they only indicate.  You use
them as pointers to get to reality.  But once you get there, your concepts
are useless.  A Hindu priest once had a dispute with a philosopher who
claimed that the final barrier to God was the word "God," the concept of
God.  The priest was quite shocked by this, but the philosopher said, "The
ass that you mount and that you use to travel to a house is not the means
by which you enter the house.  You use the concept to get there; then you
dismount, you go beyond it."  You don't need to be a mystic to understand
that reality is something that cannot be captured by words or concepts.  To
know reality you have to know beyond knowing.

Do those words ring a bell?  Those of you who are familiar with The Cloud
of Unknowing would recognize the expression.  Poets, painters, mystics, and
the great philosophers all have intimations of its truth.  Let's suppose
that one day I'm watching a tree.  Until now, every time I saw a tree, I
said, "Well, it's a tree," But today when I'm looking at the tree, I don't
see a tree.  At least I don't see what I'm accustomed to seeing.  I see
something with the freshness of a child's vision.  I have no word for
it.  I see something unique, whole, flowing, not fragmented.  And I'm in
awe.  If you were to ask me, "What did you see?" what do you think I'd
answer?  I have no word for it.  There is no word for reality.  Because as
soon as I put a word to it, we're back into concepts again.

And if I cannot express this reality that is visible to my senses, how does
one express what cannot be seen by the eye or heard by the ear?  How does
one find a word for the reality of God?  Are you beginning to understand
what Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, and all the rest were saying and what the
Church teaches constantly when she says that God is mystery, is
unintelligible to the human mind?

The great Karl Rahner, in one of his last letters, wrote to a young German
drug addict who had asked him for help.  The addict had said, "You
theologians talk about God, but how could this God be relevant in my
life?  How could this God get me off drugs?  Rahner said to him, "I must
confess to you in all honesty that for me God is and has always been
absolute mystery.  I do not understand what God is; no one can.  We have
intimations, inklings; we make faltering, inadequate attempts to put
mystery into words.  But there is no word for it, no sentence for it."  And
talking to a group of theologians in London, Rahner said, "The task of the
theologian is to explain everything through God, and to explain God as
unexplainable."  Unexplainable mystery.  One does not know, one cannot
say.  One says, "Ah. . .   Ah ..  ..  ."

Words are pointers, they're not descriptions.  Tragically, people fall into
idolatry because they think that where God is concerned, the word is the
thing.  How could you get so crazy?  Can you be crazier than that?  Even
where human beings are concerned, or trees and leaves and animals, the word
is not the thing.  And you would say that, where God is concerned, the word
is one thing?  What are you talking about?  An internationally famous
scripture scholar attended this course in San Francisco, and he said to me,
"My God, after listening to you, I understand that I've been an idol
worshipper all my life!"  He said this openly.  "It never struck me that I
had been an idol worshipper.  My idol was not made of wood or metal; it was
a mental idol."  These are the more dangerous idol worshippers.  They use a
very subtle substance, the mind, to produce their God.

What I'm leading you to is the following: awareness of reality around
you.  Awareness means to watch, to observe what is going on within you and
around you.  "Going on" is pretty accurate: Trees, grass, flowers, animals,
rock, all of reality is moving.  One observes it, one watches it.  How
essential it is for the human being not just to observe himself or herself,
but to watch all of reality.  Are you imprisoned by your concepts?  Do you
want to break out of your prison?  Then look; observe; spend hours
observing.  Watching what?  Anything.  The faces of people, the shapes of
trees, a bird in flight, a pile of stones, watch the grass grow.  Get in
touch with things, look at them.  Hopefully you will then break out of
these rigid patterns we have all developed, out of what our thoughts and
our words have imposed on us.  Hopefully we will see.  What will we
see?  This thing that we choose to call reality, whatever is beyond words
and concepts.  This is a spiritual exercise-connected with
spirituality-connected with breaking out of your cage, out of the
imprisonment of the concepts and words.

How sad if we pass through life and never see it with the eyes of a
child.  This doesn't mean you should drop your concepts totally; they're
very precious.  Though we begin without them, concepts have a very positive
function.  Thanks to them we develop our intelligence.  We're invited, not
to become children, but to become like children.  We do have to fall from a
stage of innocence and be thrown out of paradise; we do have to develop an
"I" and a "me" through these concepts.  But then we need to return to
paradise.  We need to be redeemed again.  We need to put off the old man,
the old nature, the conditioned self, and return to the state of the child
but without being a child.  When we start off in life, we look at reality
with wonder, but it isn't the intelligent wonder of the mystics; it's the
formless wonder of the child.  Then wonder dies and is replaced by boredom,
as we develop language and words and concepts.  Then hopefully, if we're
lucky, we'll return to wonder again.

Anthony de Mello, SJ


And yet, though we strain
against the deadening grip
of daily necessity,
I sense there is this mystery:

All life is being lived.

Who is living it then?
Is it the things themselves,
or something waiting inside them,
like an unplayed melody in a flute?

Is it the winds blowing over the waters?
Is it the branches that signal to each other?

Is it flowers
interweaving their fragrances
or streets, as they wind through time?

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

(From Book of Hours, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)

 Panhala by Joseph Riley

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Jerry Katz
photography & writings

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