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Issue #1327 - Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - Editor: Jerry
See What Is
I ran into something really interesting. I heat with wood so
pretty good at splittin wood. Most of the time I just whack away but
today I decided to really watch try to cut with intention. Here's the
interesting part. The more I paid attention the worse my aim was! I
was pinging off the edges and I finally broke a handle. Well I guess
the moral of this story is don't meditate while choppin wood because
it doesn't work.
Your story beckons attention to some interesting points.
Physical and mental functioning is impaired when its
processes are the focus of consciousness. Science
indicates that effectiveness decreases when attention
is focused on the mechanics of activity.
For example, a golf swing or basketball move may be
polished by attending to it's specifics over time--"how
deep is my backswing"; "how relaxed is my follow-
through." Performance under these circumstances
is typically exaggerated in one way or another.
In peak performance, however, mind first groks its
instructions and then whatever transpires is silently
witnessed. Absent the action of mind, performance
is perceived as liberated, effortless, joyous--a path
Other research records a half-second lag between
action and its dawning in awareness as a decision
to enact it. In other words, the notion of free-will
derives from posthumous attributions of agency
to a contrived ego. This effectively removes any
would-be doer from the temporal bounds of
So while functioning is perturbed by conscious
interference, it is conditioned by the totality of
consciousness, and optimized by consciousness
as silent witnessing.
Perception is serpentine. Intentionality is the head
of a snake that devours a tale grown of experience.
So I would suggest that meditation is more akin
to silent witnessing than it is to intention-laden
consciousness. Action thus observed is
spontaneously forceful and is likely to accurately
express underlying conditioning.
This post captured me because when I lived in the country in
Nova Scotia for
about 4 years I cut logs and split wood. I loved the smell of wood and
ocean, the salt air, and learning about the meeting between tree stumps and
I don't recall overly focusing attention on hitting my mark, that certain
place of maple weakness that turns axes into lightning bolt scalpels.
I do recall that the set up of the section of tree, wielding of ax,
breathing deep the salt air, a mighty swing, were all one act. I don't know
about intentional focusing or meditation, but love of it all brings the
desired results. Focused attention could take you out of the wholeness of
the act. Cutting wood is a lot of work. And through that work it heats you
more than once! The closest I get to it now is when I highlight some text
and click on 'cut'. Whew, it's exhausting.
All Is Truth
O me, man of slack faith so long,
Standing aloof, denying portions so long,
Only aware to-day of compact all-diffused truth,
Discovering to-day there is no lie or form of lie, and can be none, but
grows as inevitably upon itself as the truth does upon itself,
Or as any law of the earth or any natural production of the earth does.
(This is curious and may not be realized immediately, but it must be
I feel in myself that I represent falsehoods equally with the rest,
And that the universe does.)
Where has fail'd a perfect return indifferent of lies or the truth?
Is it upon the ground, or in water or fire? or in the spirit of man? or in the
meat and blood?
Meditating among liars and retreating sternly into myself, I see that there
are really no liars or lies after all,
And that nothing fails its perfect return, and that what are called lies are
And that each thing exactly represents itself and what has preceded it,
And that the truth includes all, and is compact just as much as space is
And that there is no flaw or vacuum in the amount of the truth - but that
all is truth without exception;
And henceforth I will go celebrate any thing I see or am,
And sing and laugh and deny nothing.
Contributed by Gill Eardley to Allspirit
Joseph Riley Panhala
I look deep into my heart,
to the core where wisdom arises.
Wisdom comes from the Unnamable
and unifies heaven and earth.
The Unnamable is always with you,
shining from the depths of your heart.
His peace will keep you untroubled
even in the greatest pain.
When you find him present within you,
you find truth at every moment.
He will guard you from all wrongdoing;
he will guide your feet on his path.
He will temper your youth with patience;
he will crown your old age with fulfillment.
And dying, you will leave your body
as effortlessly as a sigh.
(Translation by Stephen Mitchell)
Advaita to Zen
Fragmentary Notes of Bodhidharma's Disciples
Question: What is Buddha-Mind?
Answer: Your mind is it. When you see the self-same essence of it, you can call it suchness. When you see the changeless nature of it, you can call it Dharmakaya. It does not belong to anything; therefore, it is called Emancipation. It works easily and freely, being never disturbed by others; therefore, it is called the True Path. It was not born, and, therefore, it is not going to perish, so it is called Nirvana.
Question: What is Tathagata?
Answer: One who knows that he comes from nowhere and goes nowhere.
Question: What is Buddha?
Answer: One who realizes the truth, and holds nothing that is to be realized.
Question: What is meditation in emptiness?
Answer: One observes things in the phenomenal world, yet always dwells in emptiness. That is meditation in emptiness.
Question: Are there fast and slow ways of attainment?
Answer: If one sees that endless time is the mind, he will attain quickly, but if he makes a point in his mind and aims at his destination, he will attain slowly. The wise one knows his mind is the path; the stupid one makes a path beyond his mind. He does not know where the path is nor does he know that mind itself is the path.
Question: What is a sagacious student, and what is a dull student?
Answer: A sagacious student does not depend on his teacher's words, but uses his own experience to find the truth. A dull student depends on coming to a gradual understanding through his teacher's word. A teacher has two kinds of students; one hears the teacher's words without clinging to the material nor to the immaterial, without attaching to form or to non-form, without thinking of animate objects or of inanimate objects... this is the sagacious student; the other, who is avid for understanding, accumulates meanings, and mixes good and bad is the dull student. The sagacious student understands instantly; he does not raise inferior mind when he hears the teaching, nor does he follow the sage's mind; he transcends both wisdom and ignorance.
Even though one hears the teaching and does not cling to worldly desires, does not love Buddha or the true path, if when he has to select one out of two, he selects quietness from confusion, wisdom from ignorance, inactivity from activity and clings to one or the other of these, then he is a dull student.
If one transcends both wisdom and ignorance, has no greed for the teaching, does not live in right recollectedness, does not raise right thinking and does not have aspirations to be a Buddha or Bodhisattva, then he is a sagacious student.
We gaze upon a manadala of exquisite beauty. We feel. We are
Then - as the credits roll and the music soars - with our hearts
aflame - it's over - swept away.
This was my experience two nights ago with the more than
beautiful film "The Hours" - with exquisite musical score by
Yesterday, I went to a bookstore to find 'The Hours' - the Pulitzer
Prized book by Michael Cunningham. I took a sheet of paper with
me. I wanted to transcribe a few of his words and bring them
back to my little messy apartment and post them here on NDS
for my friends.
"Yes, Clarissa thinks it's time for the day to be over. We throw our
parties, we abandon our families to live alone in Canada, we
struggle to write books that do not change the world, despite our
gifts and our unstinting efforts, our most extravangant hopes. We
live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep - it's as
simple and ordinary as that...
There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our
lives, against all odds and expectations, burst open and give us
everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children
(and perhaps even they) know that these hours will inevitably be
followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish
the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more.
Heaven only knows why we love it so.
Here, then, is the party, still laid; here are the flowers, still
fresh; everything ready for the guests, who have turned out to be
only four. Forgive us Richard. It is, in fact, a party after all. It
is a party for the not yet dead; for the relatively undamaged; for
those who for mysterious reasons have the fortune to be alive."
The Hours - and the connections of the characters in it - is
other things) an exquisitely beautiful example of what Gene spoke of
when he posted about validation.
(Thank you Gene)
It is not merely some patronizing kind of ego validation that truly
connects us with one another or has the power to bring about ultimate
self-acceptance. It is the acceptance of a person's very being. And
it is rare in life, which so often shows us its harsher side.
As JP quoted from The Hours, "Heaven only knows why we love it so"...
Heaven knows what happens when you see yourself reflected in the eyes
of another who touches your heart - beyond any superficial kind
of "ego boost" - to reach the soul behind the ego, to accept the One
Self behind the mask (whether or not you are yet ready to accept it).
To smile into those eyes, and know that you are known, and that the
moment in which you are known takes you out of time and into the
vastness that exists within and without... this is one of the most
profound reasons why we love it so.
(Thank you JP :))
Into the Darkness
I am tired of hearing so much about the bliss and peace of being in the light.
Most of us wouldn't recognize true peace if it came up to us in the mall and
introduced itself. We are too busy scouring the sales racks and scowling at
our faces in the mirrored windows of all the stores. Enough is enough already.
I sound like John Stossel and Andy Rooney rolled up into one. Good. Haven't you
heard enough from the likes of all those positive-thinking gurus who have the
latest product to promote? I have.
True spirituality requires a downward turn--into the darkness of your own
private hell. Of course it is so covered over in materiality that it is hard to
find the entrance. But you don't have to look very far. The next twinge of inner
pain is being brought to you courtesy of the darkness. Go toward the darkness
I avoid my own darkness like the plague. That is precisely why it is still
there. The parts of it that I have had the courage to examine have strangely
evaporated. I wonder why. Could it be...no...yes...it's because consciousness is
stronger than darkness and we are consciousness itself.
Somehow or another we have been sold a false bill of goods by so many
peddlers of the positive path. This path exists all right but it is bought with a
price. It is not the free and easy satori that you think it is. It is just the
opposite. When I catch myself getting too saccharine it is because I am buying
into the false notion that I can be either good or bad. In reality, I am just pure
Going into the darkness means that you are ready to face the truth about
yourself. To speak personally, my own darkness seems to follow me like my
shadow. And I am still afraid of it. Intellectually I know that it is just one
part of myself running from another part, but I get schnookered by it all day
long. I might be smart enough to guess which pea is under which shell in the
old con game, but I seem to have trouble distinguishing between one me and
another me. Odd, isn't it?
I am facing a huge patch of darkness these days. It is the truth of facing
myself. Once we find the courage to enter the darkness, it dissipates. This is
how I know that God exists. He is walking with me through the valley of the
shadow of my mind.
Laughter seems to help. If you can't take time out for a good honest laugh at
the whole mess, maybe you are a candidate for pure positive thinking. Not me.
I'm headed for the biggest patch of darkness that I can find. Once I have
entered a new patch of inner pain and stayed with it, I am certain to find the
light. That's the formula, folks. Beam me down, Scottie....
With a bit of Flash and a splash of wit, Idleworm.com lays out several scenarios likely to follow a U.S. invasion of Iraq. Belly laughs soon are replaced by stomach jitters, however, once you begin to suspect the downward spiral depicted is an uncomfortable intimation of what is to come. http://www.idleworm.com/nws/2002/11/iraq2.shtml
Wilson A. Bentley
"Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated. When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind."
Contributed by Gloria Lee to NDS
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