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Jerry Katz
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#1832 - Friday, June 18, 2004 - Editor: Gloria

Those who awaken never rest in one place.
Like swans, they rise and leave the lake.
On the air they rise and fly an invisible course.
Their food is knowledge.
They live on emptiness.
They have seen how to break free.
Who can follow them?

- Buddha in the Dhammapada  

photo by Al Larus  

and more:  

~ E-zendo

I honor the Buddha,
The first of the teachers.
His teaching was
Conditioned Arising,
The end of playing with terms.
No creation, no extinction;
No duration, no inconstancy;
No Identity, no difference;
No arrival, no departure.

-Nagarjuna, first lines of the Middle Treatise  

I climb these hills
As if walking on air
Body too light to fall
Bamboo staff resting
Against a great stone
Torn cloak snapping in the wind
A lone bird soars the azure depths
Far distant springs reflected in its eye
Carefree, singing a timeless song
Gone, on a journey without end.

  - Shih-shu (17th century-early 18th)







"The summer of endless Chopin
is the summer I spent with
my father as he lay dying,
he played piano, Chopin mostly,
though he couldn't any longer so
we played his collection of CD's,
they filtered the air we breathed,
became the soundtrack of our days,

we lived those summer days mindfully,
savored everything, the taste of a peach,
the laughter of children streaming
in the window, the bark of a dog,
rain drumming on the porch's tin roof,

we shared memories, snippets of our
childhoods, of family members
long gone, of my mother, also gone,
our talk became music, melodies
that erased old misunderstandings,
and wrote new poems, new stories to
sew together the diminishing now,

we held every moment in our hands
as gently as we would have a butterfly
or a baby bird knowing that these
moments were gifted to us, that their
numbers were rapidly diminishing,

I watched him fade like a leaf
slowly turning brown,
I was with him when he died.

I realize now how light and
wondrous those days were,
how thick with awareness,
with life, with caring, as if
sculpted in fragrant rosewood,

I have only to listen to Chopin
to replay the summer soundtrack
of those gifted last lived days,
to hear my father's voice urging
me to take nothing for granted,
or carelessly step on garden paths
my mind full of other things and miss
the lavender flowers scenting the air,

I want this aching mindfulness to
bloom in me and fill my soul."

~Zen Oleary

From the web site, "Zen Oleary Poetry,"

  Some people live closely guarded lives, fearful of encountering someone or something that might shatter their insecure spiritual foundation. This attitude, however, is not the fault of religion but of their own limited understanding. True Dharma leads in exactly the opposite direction. It enables one to integrate all the many diverse experiences of life into a meaningful and coherent whole, thereby banishing fear and insecurity completely.

-Lama Thubten Yeshe, "Wisdom Energy"

Copyright Wisdom Publications 2001. Reprinted from "Daily Wisdom: 365 Buddhist Inspirations


Weep for what little things could make them glad.
—Robert Frost, "Directive"

     the large collie
who lives in the red house
at the end of my daily run
is happy,
     happy to see me
even now,
     in February—
a month of low skies
and slowly melting snow.

His yard
     has turned almost
entirely to mud—
          but so what?

     as if to please me,
he has torn apart
          and scattered
     a yellow plastic bucket
the color of forsythia
or daffodils . . .

          And now,
in a transport
          of cross-eyed
muddy ecstasy,
          he has placed
his filthy two front paws
     on the top pipe
of his sagging cyclone fence—

drooling a little,
          his tail
wagging furiously,
          until finally,
as if I were God's angel himself—

with news of the Resurrection,
I give him a biscuit

Which is fine with Melvin—
who is wise,
     by whole epochs
of evolution,
     beyond his years.

     what you can get,
that's his motto . . .

          And really,
apropos of bliss,
and the true rapture,
          what saint
could tell us half as much?

Even as he drops
          back down
into the cold
          dog-shit muck
he'll have to live in
          every day
for weeks on end perhaps
unless it freezes . . .

whining now,
     as I turn away
     to leave him there

the same today
          as yesterday—

one of the truly wretched
of this earth
     whose happiness
is almost more
          than I can bear.

Michael Van Walleghen, from In the Black Window: New and Selected Poems. University of Illinois Press. (buy now)

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