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#1489 - Friday, July 11, 2003 - Editor: Gloria
"Feather" photo by Al Larus
The Wild Mind of Gary Snyder
Regarding Buddhism, his take is offered simply and efficiently. "The marks of Buddhist teaching," he writes in A Place In Space, "are impermanence, no-self, the inevitability of suffering and connectedness, emptiness, the vastness of mind, and a way to realization."
"It seems evident," he writes, offering insight into the dynamics of his admittedly complex world view, "that there are throughout the world certain social and religious forces that have worked through history toward an ecologically and culturally enlightened state of affairs. Let these be encouraged: Gnostics, hip Marxists, Teilhard de Chardin Catholics, Druids, Taoists, Biologists, Witches, Yogins, Bhikkus, Quakers, Sufis, Tibetans, Zens, Shamans, Bushmen, American Indians, Polynesians, Anarchists, Alchemistsprimitive cultures, communal and ashram movements, cooperative ventures."
"Idealistic, these?" he says when asked about such alternative "Third Force" social movements. "In some cases the vision can be mystical; it can be Blake. It crops up historically with William Penn and the Quakers trying to make the Quaker communities in Pennsylvania a righteous place to live-treating the native peoples properly in the process. It crops up in the utopian and communal experience of Thoreau's friends in New England.
"As utopian and impractical as it might seem, it comes through history as a little dream of spiritual elegance and economic simplicity, and collaboration and cooperating communally-all of those things together. It may be that it was the early Christian vision. Certainly it was one part of the early Buddhist vision. It turns up as a reflection of the integrity of tribal culture; as a reflection of the kind of energy that would try to hold together the best lessons of tribal cultures even within the overwhelming power and dynamics of civilization."
Any paradigm for a truly healthy culture, Gary Snyder argues, must begin with surmounting narrow personal identity and finding a commitment to place. Characteristically, he finds a way of remaking the now tired concept of "sense of place" into something fresh and vital. The rural model of place, he emphasizes, is no longer the only model for the healing of our culture.
"Lately I've been noticing how many more people who tend toward counterculture thinking are turning up at readings and book signings in the cities and the suburbs," he says. "They're everywhere. What I emphasize more and more is that a bioregional consciousness is equally powerful in a city or in the suburbs. Just as a watershed flows through each of these places, it also includes them.
"One of the models I use now is how an ecosystem resembles a mandala," he explains. "A big Tibetan mandala has many small figures as well as central figures, and each of them has a key role in the picture: they're all essential. The whole thing is an educational tool for understanding-that's where the ecosystem analogy comes in. Every creature, even the little worms and insects, has value. Everything is valuable-that's the measure of the system."
[...]If embracing the responsibility of the place and the moment is his prescription, a key principle in this creative stewardship is waking up to "wild mind." He clarifies that "wild" in this context does not mean chaotic, excessive or crazy.
"It means self-organizing," he says. "It means elegantly self-disciplined, self-regulating, self-maintained. That's what wilderness is. Nobody has to do the management plan for it. So I say to people, "let's trust in the self-disciplined elegance of wild mind". Practically speaking, a life that is vowed to simplicity, appropriate boldness, good humor, gratitude, unstinting work and play, and lots of walking, brings us close to the actually existing world and its wholeness."
This is Gary Snyder's wild medicine. From the beginning, it has been devotion to this quality that has served as his bedrock of practice, his way of carving out a place of freedom in the wall of American culture. In his omission of the personal in favor of the path, he exemplifies the basics of the Zen tradition in which he was trained.
The influx of trained Asian teachers of the Buddhadharma to the West in recent years has raised questions about whether the first homespun blossoming of Beat-flavored Buddhism in the fifties actually included the notion of practice. As one who was there and has paid his dues East and West, Snyder's response is heartening.
complete article may be read here: http://www.shambhalasun.com/Archives/Features/1996/May96/Snyder.htm
Gill Eardley ~ Rumi-Hafiz
The Source of Joy
No one knows what makes the soul wake
up so happy! Maybe a dawn breeze has
blown the veil from the face of God.
A thousand new moons appear.Roses
open laughing. Hearts become perfect
rubies like those from Badakshan. The
body turns entirely spirit. Leaves
become branches in the wind! Why is
it now so easy to surrender, even for
those already surrendered? There's no
answer to any of this. No one knows
the source of joy. A poet breathes
into a reed flute, and the tip of
every hair makes music. Shams sails
down clods of dirt from the roof, and
we take jobs as doorkeepers for him.
'The Soul of Rumi' trans:Coleman Barks
"Confidence does not mean that you have confidence in something, but it is remaining in the state of confidence, free from competition or one-upmanshiip.
This is an unconditional state in which you simply possess an un-wavering state of mind that needs no reference point.
There is no room for doubt; even the question of doubt does not occur. This kind of confidence contains gentleness, because the notion of fear does not arise; sturdiness, because in the state of confidence there is ever-present resourcefulness; and joy, because trusting in the heart brings a greater sense of humor.
This confidence can manifest as majesty, elegance, and richness in a persons life."
~~ Chogyam Trungpa
universal is present
in the individual.
Just so, liberation comes
the subtle in the gross,
the unity in diversity,
the similarity in differences,
the truth in untruth,
the light in darkness,
the life in death.
This is real liberation.
- Nityananda (d.1961)
"The Three Sages Laughing"
The three sages are old friends. Two of them have come to visit the third, who has taken a vow to live as a recluse on a small island, never again to cross the bridge which seems to lead back to the world and the Rolling Mirror.
His two friends have brought food and wine, enough for a feast. They eat and drink, and drink some more, enjoying each other's company and the glow of the wine becoming just a bit tipsy in the process.
It's time now to leave. The recluse walks his friends to the bridge. In the richness of the moment he forgets his solemn vow and leaves the island. Suddenly, halfway across the bridge they realize what has happened. They stop, standing stock still, at a loss for words. A long moment passes. Then, improbably the recluse begins to laugh uproariously and is joined by the others. Now the three laugh so hard they must hold on to one another to keep from falling off the bridge and into the water.
The worldly and the island of purity have remerged. The island, the bridge, the vow - even the sages and their boisterous laughter are all, once again, shining and mysterious parts of the Sphere of the Rolling Mirror.
Taken from Life in the Rolling Mirror;Tales of Change and Flow - G.BlueStone
Nature of Consciousness
So then, just in the same way as you don't know--you don't focus your attention--on how you make your thyroid gland function, so in the same way, you don't have any attention focused on how you shine the sun. So then, let me connect this with the problem of birth and death, which puzzles people enormously of course. Because, in order to understand what the self is, you have to remember that it doesn't need to remember anything,just as you don't need to know how you work your thyroid gland.
So then, when you die, you're not going to have to put up with everlasting non-existance, because that's not an experience. A lot of people are afraid that when they die, they're going to be locked up in a dark room forever, and sort of undergo that. But one of the interesting things in the world is--this is a yoga, this is a realization--try and imagine what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up. Think about that. Children think about it. It's one of the great wonders of life. What will it be like to go to sleep and never wake up? And if you think long enough about that, something will happen to you. You will find out, among other things, it will pose the next question to you. What was it like to wake up after having never gone to sleep? That was when you were born. You see, you can't have an experience of nothing; nature abhorres a vacuum. So after you're dead, the only thing that can happen is the same experience, or the same sort of experience as when you were born. In other words, we all know very well that after other people die, other people are born. And they're all you, only you can only experience it one at a time. Everybody is I, you all know you're you, and wheresoever all being exist throughout all galaxies, it doesn't make any difference. You are all of them. And when they come into being, that's you coming into being.
You know that very well, only you don't have to remember the past in the same way you don't have to think about how you work your thyroid gland, or whatever else it is in your organism. You don't have to know how to shine the sun. You just do it, like you breath. Doesn't it really astonish you that you are this fantastically complex thing, and that you're doing all this and you never had any education in how to do it? Never learned, but you're this miracle? The point of it is, from a strictly physical, scientific standpoint, this organism is a continuous energy with everything else that's going on. And if I am my foot, I am the sun. Only we've got this little partial view. We've got the idea that 'No, I'm something IN this body.' The ego. That's a joke. The ego is nothing other than the focus of conscious attention. It's like the radar on a ship. The radar on a ship is a troubleshooter. Is there anything in the way? And conscious attention is a designed function of the brain to scan the environment, like a radar does, and note for any troublemaking changes. But if you identify yourself with your troubleshooter, then naturally you define yourself as being in a perpetual state of anxiety. And the moment we cease to identify with the ego and become aware that we are the whole organism, we realize first thing how harmonious it all is. Because your organism is a miracle of harmony. All these things functioning together. Even those creatures that are fighting each other in the blood stream and eating each other up. If they weren't doing that, you wouldn't be healthy.
So what is discord at one level of your being is harmony at another level. And you begin to realize that, and you begin to be aware too, that the discords of your life and the discords of people's lives, which are a discord at one level, at a higher level of the universe are healthy and harmonious. And you suddenly realize that everything you are and do is at that level as magnificent and as free of any blemish as the patterns in waves. The markings in marble. The way a cat moves. And that this world is really OK. Can't be anything else, because otherwise it couldn't exist. And I don't mean this in a kind of Pollyanna Christian Science sense. I don't know what it is or why it is about Christian Science, but it's prissy. It's got kind of a funny feeling to it; came from New England.
But the reality underneath physical existence, or which really is physical existence--because in my philosophy there is no difference between the physical and the spiritual. These are absolutely out-of-date catagories. It's all process; it isn't 'stuff' on the one hand and 'form' on the other. It's just pattern-- life is pattern. It is a dance of energy. And so I will never invoke spooky knowledge. That is, that I've had a private revelation or that I have sensory vibrations going on a plane which you don't have. Everything is standing right out in the open, it's just a question of how you look at it. So you do discover when you realize this, the most extraordinary thing that I never cease to be flabbergasted at whenever it happens to me. Some people will use a symbolism of the relationship of God to the universe, wherein God is a brilliant light, only somehow veiled, hiding underneath all these forms as you look around you. So far so good. But the truth is funnier than that. It is that you are looking right at the brilliant light now that the experience you are having that you call ordinary everyday consciousness--pretending you're not it--that experience is exactly the same thing as 'it.' There's no difference at all. And when you find that out, you laugh yourself silly. That's the great discovery.
In other words, when you really start to see things, and you look at an old paper cup, and you go into the nature of what it is to see what vision is, or what smell is, or what touch is, you realize that that vision of the paper cup is the brilliant light of the cosmos. Nothing could be brighter. Ten thousand suns couldn't be brighter. Only they're hidden in the sense that all the points of the infinite light are so tiny when you see them in the cup they don't blow your eyes out. See, the source of all light is in the eye. If there were no eyes in this world, the sun would not be light. So if I hit as hard as I can on a drum which has no skin, it makes no noise. So if a sun shines on a world with no eyes, it's like a hand beating on a skinless drum. No light. YOU evoke light out of the universe, in the same way you, by nature of having a soft skin, evoke hardness out of wood. Wood is only hard in relation to a soft skin. It's your eardrum that evokes noise out of the air. You, by being this organism, call into being this whole universe of light and color and hardness and heaviness and everything.
Alan Watts/Nature of Consciousness
Skin is the closest
thing to god,
touching oil, clay,
intimate with the foreign land of air
and other bodies,
places not in light,
for its own image.
awash in its own light.
It wants to swim and surface
from the red curve of the sea,
open all its eyes.
the oldest thing.
It remembers when it was the cold
builder of fire,
when darkness was the circle around it,
when there were eyes shining in the night,
a breaking twig, and it rises
in fear, a primitive lord on new bones.
you, it is old,
it heals and is sometimes merciful.
It is water.
It has fallen through ancestral hands.
It is the bearer of vanished forest
fallen through teeth and jaws
where we were once other
visions and creations.
The Scripture of the Golden Eternity
by Jack Kerouac
There is a blessedness surely to be believed,
and that is that everything abides in
eternal ecstasy, now and forever.
The secret God-grin in the trees and in the teapot,
in ashes and fronds, fire and brick, flesh and
mental human hope. All things, far from yearning
to be re-united with God, had never left themselves
and here they are, Dharmakaya, the body of the
truth law, the universal Thisness.
Things don't tire of going and coming.
The flies end up with delicate viands.
Though it is everything, strictly speaking
there is no golden eternity because everything
is nothing: there are no things and no goings and
comings: for all is emptiness, and emptiness is
these forms, emptiness is this one formhood.
All these selfnesses have already vanished.
Einstein measured that this present universe is an
expanding bubble, and you know what that means.
Discard such definite imaginations of phenomena
as your own self, thou human being, thou'rt a
numberless mass of sun-motes: each mote a shrine.
The same as to your shyness of other selves,
selfness as divided into infinite numbers of beings,
or selfness as identified as one self existing
eternally. Be obliging and noble, be generous
with your time and help and possessions, and be
kind, because the emptiness of this little place
of flesh you carry around and call your soul,
your entity, is the same emptiness in every direction
of space unmeasurably emptiness, the same, one,
and holy emptiness everywhere: why be selfly and
unfree, Man God, in your dream? Wake up, thou'rt
selfless and free. "Even and upright your mind
abides nowhere," states Hui Neng of China.
We're all in Heaven now.
Roaring dreams take place in a perfectly silent
mind. Now that we know this, throw the raft away.
Joseph Riley ~ Panhala 6.
Rumi the poet was a scholar also.
But Shams, his friend, was an angel.
By which I don't mean anything patient or sweet.
When I read how he took Rumi's books and threw them
into the duck pond,
I shouted for joy. Time to live now,
I see him, turning away
casually toward the road, Rumi following, the books
floating and sinking among the screeching ducks,
oh, beautiful book-eating pond!
~ Mary Oliver ~
(from "The Return" in What Do We Know?)
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