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#1710 - Monday, February 16, 2004 - Editor: Gloria
it has been since
The teaching of the pure
Essence was swept away?
Students are caught up
With the written word
And Buddhist priests are
Stubbornly obsessed with doctrine.
Its a shame that for
A thousand years
No one has spoken
Seriously of this essence.
Better to follow the children
And bounce a ball on these spring days.
- Ryokan (1758-1831)
Lake cold penetrates
The mountain by the lake
Is neither right nor wrong
Dusty tracks all end
The world is far away.
White clouds and gulls
Have no hidden plans.
- Han-shan Te-ching (1546-1623)
Vast and far-reaching
secluded and pure,
this spirit is without
Its brightness does not
shine out but can be
called empty and
- Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091-1157)
photo by Al Larus
I once imagined I was bound.
But I am pure awareness.
I live beyond all distinctions,
In unbroken meditation.
-Ashtavakra Gita 2:17
"The Heart of Awareness: A Translation of the Ashtavakra
Gita," by Thomas Byrom, 1990. Reprinted by arrangement with
Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boston. www.shambhala.com.
A Net of Jewels
The body and mind are only symptoms of ignorance, of misapprehension.
Behave as if you were pure awareness, bodiless and mindless, spaceless
and timeless, beyond "where" and "when" and "how." Dwell on it, think of
it, learn to accept its reality... By doing you succeed, not by arguing.
~Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Minister for Exams
When I was a child I sat an exam.
This test was so simple
There was no way i could fail.
Q1. Describe the taste of the Moon. It tastes like Creation I wrote,
it has the flavour of starlight.
Q2. What colour is Love? Love is the colour of the water a man
lost in the desert finds, I wrote.
Q3. Why do snowflakes melt? I wrote, they melt because they fall
on to the warm tongue of God.
There were other questions.
They were as simple. I described the grief of Adam
when he was expelled from Eden.
I wrote down the exact weight of
an elephant's dream
Yet today, many years later,
For my living I sweep the streets
or clean out the toilets of the fat
Why? Because constantly I failed
Why? Well, let me set a test.
Q1. How large is a child's
Q2. How shallow is the soul of the
Minister for exams?
~ Brian Patten ~
DharmaG ~ Daily
"There is an old story about a farmer, who, like all of us, had some
problems in his life, and thought the Buddha might be able to straighten
"'I like farming,' he said, 'but sometimes it doesn't rain enough, and
my crops fail. Last year we nearly starved. And sometimes it rains too
much, so my yields aren't what I would like them to be.'
"The Buddha patiently listened to the man.
"'I'm married, too,' said the man. 'Good children too... but sometimes
they don't show me enough respect; and sometimes...'
"The man went on like this, laying out all his difficulties and worries.
Finally he wound down and waited for the Buddha to say the words that
would put everything right.
"Instead the Buddha said, 'I can't help you.'
'What do you mean?' said the astonished man.
'Everybody's got problems,' said the Buddha. 'In fact, we've all got
eighty-three problems, each one of us. Eighty-three problems and there
is nothing you can do about it. If you work really hard on one of them,
maybe you can fix it - but if you do, another one will arise to take its
place. For example, you're going to lose your loved ones eventually, and
you're going to die some day. Now there's a problem, and there is
nothing you or I, or anyone, can do about it.'
"The man became furious. 'I thought you were a great teacher!' he
shouted. 'I thought you could help me! What good is your teaching,
"The Buddha said, 'Well, maybe it will help you with the eighty-fourth
"'The eighty-fourth problem?' said the man. 'What's the eighty-fourth
"Said the Buddha, 'You want to not have any problems.'"
~A Buddhist tale, not sure if it is from a sutra.
Zen Retreat in the Woods
At the age of 25, Jane Dobisz decided to undertake a 100-day Buddhist retreat in the New England woods. Because Zen practice doesn't allow taking notes, she didn't keep a diary of her experiences. But she wrote 10 poems that, 20 years later, helped her remember the details of her time there. Dobisz says she's glad she waited so long to write her book, The Wisdom of Solitude, about the experience. That year when I was 19, I was in Europe, and I started meeting all these people. At the time, you could travel overland to India, and people were finding gurus and all this sort of thing, and some people mentioned to me that there was this thing called Zen. I thought it was flower arranging or tea ceremony or something, but I signed up for a class in college. The book Zen Mind, Beginners Mind was on the syllabus, so I went to the bookstore and bought it, took one look at it, opened it up randomly it said, If you want to know if tea is hot or cold, you must drink it yourself--and that was really it for me. I was done. I said, Thats what I want. And I looked at Shunryu Suzukis picture on the back cover and of course, that face which has launched a million practices I was done. I got on a plane and went to Nepal two months after that.
It was like, you just have to experience it yourself, you cant read about it, you cant study about it; you cant listen to somebody elses version of it. You just have to taste it or else it wont work for you. [...]
Youve mentioned the question of being afraid to find out who you were, but that you were compelled to do it. Who did you find out you were?
It ended up just being me. None other than who I always was. Its just being at home with that. When you sit there long enough you see all the content and the storyline and the emotions and the grasping and the ignorance and all the stuff just come and go and come and go and come and go enough times that it starts to become like the weather. And instead of it all being my story and me and then when that happens theres this lightheartedness that surrounds it for all of the little foibles and just goofiness of who we are and just the narrow-minded pieces of ourselves and the jealousies and the fears and all the great, wonderful parts, too, that are so loving, and so giving. Everybody has this. And when you can accept those things in yourself, its so much easier to accept it in someone else instead of react to it. Youre like, Yeah, I know that. Oh, theres that little gremlin. And you can see it in someone else.
So you think that was the most important lesson you learned?
The most important thing I learned is that I dont know anything.
We dont know where we were before we were born. We dont know who we are. We dont know when we die, where were going. We just dont. We could adhere to karma or heaven and hell or whatever you can make up stuff. When you press things to the end of the line, the bottom line of everything is that it comes back to this place thats before any idea and before name and form and before thinking.
But its very difficult to hold onto that idea because people want to control and know everything.
So if you can just get very comfortable with not knowing anything, thats a great, great thing to be able to do.
~entire story at: http://www.beliefnet.com/story/140/story_14015_1.html
The Almanac of Last Things
From the almanac of last things
I choose the spider lily
for the grace of its brief
blossom, though I myself
but I choose The Song of Songs
because the flesh
of those pomegranates
all the frost of dogma.
I choose January with its chill
lessons of patience and despair--and
August, too sun-struck for lessons.
I choose a thimbleful of red wine
to make my heart race,
then another to help me
sleep. From the almanac
of last things I choose you,
as I have done before.
And I choose evening
because the light clinging
to the window
is at its most reflective
just as it is ready
to go out.
by Linda Pastan, from Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968-1998 (W.W. Norton).
photo by Al Larus http://www.ferryfee.com/bluesky/Sunday.htm
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