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#1552 - Friday, September 12, 2003 - Editor: Gloria
The central benefit of Zen,
in the context of ordinary
ups and downs of life,
is not in preventing the minus
and promoting the plus,
but in directing people
to the fundamental reality
that is not under the sway of ups and downs.
- Muso Kokushi (1275-1351)
Alan Larus photo and poem http://www.ferryfee.com/bluesky/paint%20a%20saint.htm
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
(translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)
A political science professor asked me what I think about when I meditate. I told him, I dont think about anything. I said that I am only attentive to what is there, what is going on. He appeared skeptical, but it is the truth. While sitting, I make almost no use of my intellect. I dont try to analyze things or solve complex problems. Even if I am examining a Kung-an (Japanese: Koan), I just allow it to be there and I contemplate it, without seeking to explain or interpret it, because I know that a kung-an is not a puzzle to solve. Examination in the sense of awareness does not mean analysis. It only means continuous recognition.
~Thich Nhat Hanh
From the book, The Sun My Heart, published by Parallax Press
~ ~ ~
Written in 1965 as a
teaching on reconciliation and overcoming anger for his
young students who risked their lives daily and many of whom
perished during the Vietnam War. It is an eloquent expression of
promise me this day,
promise me now,
while the sun is overhead
exactly at the zenith,
Even as they
strike you down
with a mountain of hatred & violence;
even as they step on you & crush you
like a worm,
even as they dismember & disembowel you,
man is not our enemy.
The only thing worthy of you is compassion
invincible, limitless, unconditional.
Hatred will never let you face
the beast in man.
One day, when you face this beast alone,
with your courage intact, your eyes kind,
(even as no one sees them),
out of your smile
will bloom a flower.
And those who love you
will behold you
across ten thousand worlds of birth & dying.
I will go on with bent head,
knowing that love has become eternal.
on the long, rough road,
the sun & the moon
will continue to shine.
~Thich Nhat Hanh
~ ~ ~
"When he was young the great Zen Master Ma-tzu was known for his hard practicing. One day the Seventh Patriarch, Huai-jang, came upon Ma-tzu meditating in his hut. Having heard of his reputation, Huai-jang decided to test him. He entered the hut and questioned Ma-tzu as to the purpose of meditation practice. Ma-tzu replied that he was practicing to become an enlightened being, a Buddha.
Saying nothing, Huai-jang picked up a discarded brick and started rubbing it with a rock. After a while, Ma-tzu's curiosity got the best of him. Why are you grinding on that brick? he asked.
Huai-jang replied, I'm polishing it into a mirror.
Somewhat perturbed, Ma-tzu blurted: How can you possibly make a mirror by polishing a brick?
Huai-jang's reply was immediate: How can you become a Buddha by practicing meditation? Hearing these words, Ma-tzu had an opening.
Zen means.. I don't want anything. Another name for this is enough mind, which means completely attain this moment. But we often hear Zen Master Seung Sahn say that his only teaching is don't know. This is interesting. We hear many times that Zen is very simple. And it is, but we are human beings so we sometimes have a lot of thinking; then things get complicated. Because we have thinking, we have many teaching words. But all these teaching words mean only one thing: don't know. So, just do it is don't know, only go straight is don't know, put down (i.e. let it rest) your opinion, condition and situation is don't know, enough mind is don't know. Even the Buddha Way is inconceivable, I vow to attain it is don't know. But don't know is not don't know.
Sengtsan, the Third Patriarch, left us with -this poem:
To live in the Great Way
is neither easy nor difficult,
but those with limited views
are fearful and irresolute:
the faster they hurry, the slower they go,
and clinging (attachment) cannot be limited;
even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment is to go astray.
Just let things be in their own way,
and there will be neither coming nor going.
So, it is very important not to be attached to teaching words, no matter how wonderful or how great the mouth from which they emerged. Forget the net; catch the fish."
From the website, http://www.kwanumzen.com
Rumi to Hafiz
blessing the boats
(at St. Mary's)
may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back
may you open your yes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that. . ..
~ ~ ~
I LOOK FAR, I FORGET YOU and I'm
lost. I lift my hands to you.
I kneel toward my heart. I have no other home. My love is here. I
end the day in mercy that I wasted in despair. Bind me to you, I
fall away. Bind me, ease of my heart, bind me to your love. Gentle
things you return to me, and duties that are sweet. And you say, I
am in this heart, I and my name are here. Everywhere the blades
turn, in every thought the butchery, and it is raw where I wander;
but you hide me in the shelter of your name, and you open the
hardness to tears. The drifting is to you, and the swell of suffering
breaks toward you. You draw me back to close my eyes, to bless
your name in speechlessness. Blessed are you in the smallness of
your whispering. Blessed are you who speaks to the unworthy.
~Leonard Cohen 'Book of Mercy' ~ ~ ~
Somewhere i have never travelled
e. e. cummings
somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near
your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skillfully, mysteriously)her first rose
or if your wish be to close me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing
(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain, has such small hands
You see, intelligence is not personal, is not the outcome of argument, belief, opinion or reason. Intelligence comes into being when the brain discovers its fallibility, when it discovers what it is capable of, and what not.
___ Saanen , 5 August 1971
Spring was a time of swaggering
Reaching autumn, one finds few absolutes.
Life is mystery and ambiguity,
Toward winter, that now seems agreeable and
When young, one makes heroic attempts. The world will surely bend to our
will, we think, ad we will surely make grand contributions. Social
injustice will be righted. The big questions will be answered.
I once went to see a master writer. Long retired, white-haired, and
fragile, she nevertheless evinced a sharp and discerning mind. I was a
novice writer. She had edited hundreds of great authors. I peppered her
with my anxieties and asked her all the questions that my teachers never
answered. To most of my questions she would only answer "Yes." She knew
all the answers, and she knew all the exceptions, and she knew the best
thing that an older person could tell a younger person was "Yes." Yes, the
affirmative. Yes, as in keep exploring. Yes, as in there are no ultimate
I used to push for an immediate resolution to daily problems. Now, I am
not so anxious. Is science right about things, or is religion? Is there
one god, or are there many gods, or no gods? A hundred answers exist for
these questions. They are all known, but no one agrees. Today, I think it
all very fine. Let there be a hundred answers with none of them entirely
correct. The asking of the question is already enough.
Following are excerpts from a thought-provoking interview with David on Irish Radio, appropriately titled "The Power and Place of Poetry." If you would like to listen to the complete interview in RealAudio™ please click here!
can be deeply personal, and also lead us into what
society is working with at the time. Throughout the ages,
the task of the poet has been that of trying to say it
- whatever it is at that particular time and place in
history. This is why dictators and despots always go for
the poets, because they are daring to speak the it
of their time.
The poet writes from the deepest place she or he can find, the place from which there is no going back. The discipline of poetry is trying to overhear yourself say difficult truths from which you cannot retreat. All poems are good; all poems are magnificent unto themselves. But only some are able to speak to something universal, to create a door through which anyone can walk into their own experience of what it means to be alive in the world.
We must learn to look at our lives through a more mythological perspective. The mythological view is a storytelling, poetic view that grants magnificence to our lives, and you can feel in your body that it is a more pleasing view of the world and your place in it than the psychological model, which implies that there is something wrong with you. The psychological model is a useful tool, but it lacks imagination; our biographies are important, but they are not the whole picture.
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