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#1827 - Sunday, June 13, 2004 - Editor: Gloria  

  It's the birthday (6/15) of Japanese poet Kobayashi Issa, born in Kashiwabara, Japan.  Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827) was one of the most prolific of Japan's haiku poets, leaving thousands of one-breath masterpieces for the world to enjoy. Only a small fraction of his life's work has been translated into English. This website offers an archive of 5,200 of Issa's haiku.

"The summer night
so brief, so brief!"
people and blossoms agree

home village—
my summer grove is small
but it's mine!  

What makes an authentic monk? I think clarity of mind and sight, simplicity of life and gratitude in the heart. In short, what Brother David calls a "listening heart."
It takes self-knowledge and freedom from projection to render the heart a listening one. The monk listens.
(p.xi from Introduction by Matthew Fox to A Listening Heart, The Spirituality of Sacred Sensuousness, book by Brother David Steindl-Rast, c. 1983, 1999)

    Atwater Kent

Late nights the world flooded our dark house
in a dim throbbing from a glowing little box, velvety
sound hovering from horns, or Cab Calloway
far in a night club stretched all the way to Kansas.

Maybe rewarded with popcorn or fudge, maybe
just exhausted by the day, we sprawled on the living room
rug and were carried above our house, out
over town, and spread thin by a violin.

Once from Chicago Enio Belognini
civilized with his cello a whole
hemisphere, and we were transformed into Italians
or other great people, listening in palaces.

Rich in our darkness, we lay inheriting
rivers of swirling millions, and the promise of never
a war again. It all came from the sky,
Heaven: London, Rome, Copenhagen.

William Stafford,  from The Way it Is. Graywolf Press

DharmaG ~ Daily Dharma


"In the ordinary mind, we perceive the stream of thoughts as continuous,
but in reality this is not the case. You will discover for yourself that
there is a gap between each thought. When the past thought is past, and
the future thought has not yet arisen, you will always find a gap in
which the Rigpa, the nature of mind, is revealed. So the work of
meditation is to allow thoughts to slow down, to make that gap become
more and more apparent."

~Sogyal Rinpoche

From the book, "Glimpse After Glimpse: Daily Reflections on Living and
Dying," published by Harper


A portion of The Accidental Buddhist can be found on the Random House website:

"Moore's hilarious and sometimes irreverent look at Buddhism is a perfect primer for the budding Buddhist" --

Publisher's Weekly excerpt of chp 1:

from Amazon "inside the book":

Al Larus


 To see 
what's given in this life 
 for sure 
did cut the easy slice

Still enough
 is left
 to pray, one day
 I'll pass 
unnoticed like a reed

or see:

Robert Cooper ~ Daily Dharma


"As we begin to practice shamatha-vipashyana meditation, following our
breath and labeling our thoughts, we can gradually begin to realize how
profound it is just to let those thoughts go, not
rejecting them, not trying to repress them, but just simply acknowledging
them as violent thoughts, thoughts of hatred, thoughts of wanting, thoughts
of poverty; thoughts of loathing, whatever they might be.

"We can see it all as thinking and can let the thoughts go and begin to feel
what's left. We can begin to feel the energy of our heart, our body, our
neck, our head, our stomach-that basic feeling that's underneath all of the
story lines.

"If we can relate directly with that, then all of the rest is our wealth.
When we don't act out and we don't repress, then our passion, our
aggression, and our ignorance become our wealth. The poison already is the
medicine. You don't have to transform anything.

"Simply letting go of the story line is what it takes, which is not that
easy. That light touch of acknowledging what we're thinking and letting it
go is the key to connecting with this wealth that we have. With all the
messy stuff; no matter how messy it is, just start where you are - not
tomorrow not later; not yesterday when you were feeling better-but now.
Start now just as you are."

~Pema Chodron

From the book, "Start Where You Are", published by Shambhala Publications.

Taking Life's Final Exit   By Valerie Reitman Times Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA — My brother took more trains, planes and automobiles in the last week of his life than he had taken in months, perhaps years. Those journeys were all the more surprising because they occurred in an intensive-care unit at the end of his three-year battle with bone marrow cancer.

Bedridden after being rushed to the hospital for what would be the final eight days of his life, Kenny casually mentioned that he was visiting Detroit. It was a rather odd place for him to be traveling — even if only in his imagination — because the hospital was near home in suburban Philadelphia and he didn't have any ties to the Motor City.

But it was near a border, a border he seemed intent on crossing, be it real or metaphoric.

"How far is it to Canada?" he wanted to know. "Where's the map?"

Though very weak, Kenny, 45, intermittently recognized and chatted lucidly with family gathered by his bedside. But he would drop in news of his varied travels: He had gone skiing one afternoon in Australia, he told us, stopped by North Carolina another day, and more than once had been "stuck in passport control."

At first, our family dismissed these journeys as confusion; we would laugh through our tears about the various places and modes of transport he had been taking. It must be the painkillers, we thought. Or maybe hypoxia, the oxygen deprivation in the blood that often contributes to delirium in sick people. Or that the cancer now was destroying his mind, just as it had racked his body.

But then our cousin Lynne mentioned that her parents had done a lot of similar traveling in the last days of their cancer battles. Uncle Larry (Lynne's father) had insisted that his passport and fanny pack be kept by his bedside; he was intent on keeping an imaginary 3 p.m. appointment with the emperor of Japan, where I was living then and where he had hoped to visit. He too had asked for a map — of Japan. Aunt Lois, who had died four years before, had talked about needing to catch a train, asking Lynne to buy her a ticket.

There seemed to be a pattern. A nearby bookstore turned up a 1992 title that offered some clues: "Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs and Communications of the Dying."

Its chapter titles were uncanny: "Where's the Map?" and "I'm Getting Ready To Leave." Authors Patricia Kelley and Maggie Callanan, longtime Washington, D.C.-area hospice nurses, had heard similar talk so often from their dying patients — conveying this sense of moving from one place to another, of being in transition — that they concluded it must be a special language the dying have to communicate what is happening to them.

"It would be easy to say it's just coincidence, but when you see it over and over, there has to be something there," Kelley said in a telephone interview. "I do think people experience something we can't describe."

The authors termed the phenomenon "nearing death awareness" — a state they think reveals what dying might be like and what a person needs to die peacefully.


A Reader's Letter to Editor

Hi Gloria,
          Thanks to Mr. Hassine and deepest thanks to you for running the excerpt from Steven Hagen's powerful, intelligently written book. ("Buddhism Is Not What you Think") I purchased it a few weeks ago and have reread it twice since. I had been thinking of doing a review for NDH but, if I may, would just like to offer my few comments here
          There is only one slight problem with this publication. the subtitle, " Finding Freedom beyond Beliefs " actually  would have been the perfectly descriptive title. This slender volume has more to teach us about living in awareness and freedom than any 10 books, taken together, I have seen in the 35 years I have been reading such material.
          Although Hagen is a zenmaster in Minneapolis, successor to his teacher, the late Dainin Katagiri, there is no religion ( in the ordinary sense ) in this book. Aside from his quotations of various zen masters and teachings,  he does not burden the reader with lessons about Buddhism or its doctrines. In fact, he discards, almost in passing, the notion that the Buddha  taught reincarnation.
          What this book really teaches is a  way to wake up and live in the truth of the present. " ..without taking hold of any thought or thing, just realize what's seen directly, before you make anything of it. This is to know Truth. It has nothing to do with belief." (p.23)
          This is not a work for the fainthearted or those seeking a magical path. It is truly about living in Awareness, but without the dross that permeates so many works in that line.  In fact, Hagen points out that no one can expect to be aware 24 hours a day, frankly admitting that he cannot do it.
          Reading this book is surely educational  in itself. But to truly incorporate its teachings into  your life takes real effort and sincere commitment, in my view. In fact, if your are to commit sincerely to the path he reveals you would have to give up your usual beliefs, judgments and attachment to various values or views.
          I am sure that those who can follow these teachings will truly live in more freedom than they ever could have hoped. For myself, I am still weighing whether I can surrender my lifelong devotion to views, judgements and critical thinking ( as some readers may have noticed) I cherish  the truth of these teachings too much to simply pretend to follow them.
          My hope is that some of you who may be less set in your  ways will seek out this little volume and allow this master to show you a genuine path, without any religious trappings or tiresome prattle. I should note, in closing, that Steven Hagen manifests a strong background in science and mathematics which certainly have helped him, I think, to express his unique approach to truth so wonderfully well.

          Earl McHugh

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