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#1764 - Sunday, April 11, 2004 - Editor: Gloria  

  The wicked see this universe as a hell, and the partially good see it as heaven, while the perfect beings realize it as God Himself. Only when a man sees this universe as God does the veil fall from his eyes; then that man, purified and cleansed, finds his whole vision changed.

- Vivekananda

From "Teachings of the Hindu Mystics," 2001 by Andrew Harvey. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Boston,

  From: 'The Wisdom of Insecurity' Alan Watts :

"...when you really understand that you are
what you see and know, you do not run around
the country-side thinking, 'I am all this.'
There is simply 'all this.'

~ ~ ~

From: 'The Gitanjali' Rabindranath Tagore


THOU art the sky and thou art the nest as well.

   0 thou beautiful, there in the nest it is thy love that
encloses the soul with colours and sounds and odours.
There comes the morning with the golden basket in her
right hand bearing the wreath of beauty, silently to crown
the earth.

   And there comes the evening over the lonely meadows
deserted by herds, through trackless paths, carrying cool
draughts of peace in her golden pitcher from the western
ocean of rest.

   But there, where spreads the infinite sky for the soul to
take her flight in, reigns the stainless white radiance. There
is no day nor night, nor form nor colour and never, never a word.

  Gill Eardley ~ Allspirit Inspiration



This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
   to break my heart
     as the sun rises,
        as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open--
   pools of lace,
      white and pink--
       and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
    into the curls,
      craving the sweet sap,
        taking it away

to their dark, underground cities--
   and all day
      under the shifty wind,
       as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
   and tip their fragrance to the air,
     and rise,
       their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
    gladly and lightly,
      and there it is again--
        beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
    Do you love this world?
      Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
       Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
   and softly,
      and exclaiming of their dearness,
       fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
    their eagerness
      to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
        nothing, forever?

Mary Oliver

Pema Chodrun

from The Wisdom of No Escape


Almost a year ago, a dear friend of ours, Sister Ayya Khema, a German woman who is a Theravadin nun living in Sri Lanka, came to visit us and to lead a vipashyana (insight meditation) retreat. The retreat for me personally was something of a revelation, because she emphasized joy. I hadn't realized how much emphasis I had put on suffering in my own practice. I had focused on coming to terms with the unpleasant, unacceptable, embarrassing, and painful things that I do. In the process, I had very subtly forgotten about joy.

In our seven-day silent retreat, Ayya Khema taught us that each of us has in our heart a joy that's accessible to us; by connecting to it and letting it flower, we allow ourselves to celebrate our practice and our lives. Joy is like a soft spring rain that allows us to lighten up , to enjoy ourselves, and therefore it's a whole new way of looking at suffering.

In a little book called A Guide to Walking Meditation, in the chapter "The World Contains All the Wonders of the Pure Land," Thich Nhat Hanh says, "I don't think that all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the three times will criticize me for giving you a little secret, that there is no need to go somewhere else to find the wonders of the Pure Land." That sense of wonder and delight is present in every moment, every breath, every step, every movement of our own ordinary everyday lives, if we can connect with it. The greatest obstacle to connecting with our joy is resentment.

Joy has to do with seeing how big, how completely unobstructed, and how precious things are. Resenting what happens to you and complaining about your life are like refusing to smell the wild roses when you go for a morning walk, or like being so blind you don't see a huge black raven when it lands in the tree you're sitting under. We can get so caught up in our own personal pain or worries that we don't notice that the wind has come up or that somebody has put flowers on the dining room table or that when we walked out in the morning, the flags weren't up, and that when we came back, they were flying. Resentment, bitterness, and holding a grudge prevent us from seeing and hearing and tasting and delighting.

There is a story about a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs, and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. The she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly.

Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life, it might be the only strawberry we'll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.

Trunga Rinpoche always used to say, "You can do it." That was probably one of his main teachings, "You can do it." Thich Nhat Hanh, in his Guide to Walking Meditation, begins by talking about how everybody carries around this burden, and if you want to put it off, if you want to lay it down, you can do it. You can connect with the joy in your heart.

On a day of silence like today, when things are very still, you may find that you are feeling grim and doing everything with a grim expression: grimly opening the door, grimly drinking your tea, concentrating so hard on being quiet and still and moving slowly that you're miserable. On the other hand, you could just relax and realize that, behind all the worry, complaint, and disapproval that goes on in your mind, the sun is always coming up in the morning, moving across the sky, and going down in the evening. The birds are always out there collecting their food and making their nests and flying across the sky. The grass is always being blown by the wind or standing still. Food and flowers and trees and are growing out of the earth. There's enormous richness. You could develop your passion for life and your curiosity and your interest. You could connect with your joyfulness. You could start right now.

The Navajo teach their children that every morning when the sun comes up, it's a brand new sun. It's born each morning, it lives for the duration of one day, and in the evening it passes on, never to return again. As soon as the children are old enough to understand, the adults take them out at dawn and they say, "The sun has only one day. You must live this day in a good way, so that the sun won't have wasted precious time." Acknowledging the preciousness of each day is a good way to live, a good way to reconnect with our basic joy.

A Hardware Store as Proof of the Existence of God

I praise the brightness of hammers pointing east
like the steel woodpeckers of the future,
and dozens of hinges opening brass wings,
and six new rakes shyly fanning their toes,
and bins of hooks glittering into bees,

and a rack of wrenches like the bones of horses,
and mailboxes sowing rows of silver chapels,
and a company of plungers waiting for God
to claim their thin legs in their big shoes
and put them on and walk away laughing.

In a world not perfect but not bad either
let there be glue, glaze, gum, and grabs,
caulk also, and hooks, shackles, cables, and slips,
and signs so spare a child may read them,
Men, Women, In, Out, No Parking, Beware the Dog.

In the right hands, they can work wonders.

- Nancy Willard

One day Mara, the Buddhist god of ignorance and evil, was traveling though the villages of India with his attendants. He saw a man doing walking meditation whose face was lit up in wonder. The man had just discovered something on the ground in front of him. Mara's attendants asked what that was and Mara replied, "A piece of truth." "Doesn't this bother you when someone finds a piece of truth, O Evil One?" his attendants asked. "No," Mara replied. "Right after this they usually make a belief out of it."  

Christina Feldman and Jack Kornfield, Stories  

"Under the right teacher, the disciple learns to learn, not to remember and obey.  Satsang, the company of the noble, does not mold, it liberates.  Beware of all that makes you dependent."

- Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj   


The Simple Presence of Attention

by Toni Packer

This moment of being here, what does it mean? It means not resisting whatever is here: anxiety, discomfort, pain or disturbance. That's much easier said than done. By not resisting I mean resistance melting away in the awareness of being here-not giving way to fantasy, rather seeing fantasy as fantasy, as a veil hiding what is here in utter simplicity. To see that! That's not just saying, "Okay, all of this is just thoughts and fantasy." This is more thinking and it doesn't help, as we all have found out.

Have you ever experienced the difference between saying, "This is all thought," and directly seeing the appearance of thoughts and their effects on the body? Please hold it for a moment; don't just say "yes" or "no" and go on reading without stopping for a moment and wondering. Sitting quietly with energy gathering can be of immense help in detecting what is thought and what isn't. It allows one to experience directly how a thought generates emotion-pleasure or pain, sorrow or fear, and the credence given to it all- without acting on it. We assume that thinking tells us the truth about ourselves and the world. In thinking without seeing, everything seems so real, so true; there's no space here for questioning. Can there be seeing without thinking?

Wondering comes out of a moment of not going anywhere in thought, a moment of stopping-taking a deep breath and exhaling. It is a moment of not knowing where to go, because there is no place to go. It's realizing that all of the places thought can go to are fantasy. In our daily predicament of pain, of work fatigue or boredom, there seems to be incessant thought activity, with its restlessness, dissatisfaction, lack of fulfillment and searching for something different. There is the strong desire to alleviate what we don't like, to get rid of it. Can there be momentary freedom from our consuming restlessness? From thinking, "Where could I go next to be free?"

From "The Simple Presence of Attention" by Toni Packer. Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly, Summer 2003.

I Tell You (excerpt)  

I could not predict the fullness
of the day. How it was enough
to stand alone without help
in the green yard at dawn.

How two geese would spin out
of the ochre sun opening my spine,
curling my head up to the sky
in an arc I took for granted.

And the lilac bush by the red
brick wall flooding the air
with its purple weight of beauty?
How it made my body swoon,

brought my arms to reach for it
without even thinking.
In class today a Dutch woman split
in two by a stroke - one branch
of her body a petrified silence,
walked leaning on her husband

to the treatment table while we
the unimpaired looked on with envy.
How he dignified her wobble,
beheld her deformation, untied her

shoe, removed the brace that stakes
her weaknesses. How he cradled
her down in his arms to the table
smoothing her hair as if they were

alone in their bed. I tell you -
his smile would have made you weep.


At twilight I visit my garden
where the peonies are about to burst.

Some days there will be more
flowers than the vase can hold.

~ Susan Glassmeyer ~  
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Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
photography & writings

Search over 5000 pages on Nonduality: