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#1917 - Friday, September 10, 2004 - Editor: Gloria
To a Terrorist
For the historical ache, the ache passed down
which finds its circumstance and becomes
the present ache, I offer this poem
without hope, knowing there's nothing,
not even revenge, which alleviates
a life like yours. I offer it as one
might offer his father's ashes
to the wind, a gesture
when there's nothing else to do.
Still, I must say to you:
I hate your good reasons.
I hate the hatefulness that makes you fall
in love with death, your own included.
Perhaps you're hating me now,
I who own my own house
and live in a country so muscular,
so smug, it thinks its terror is meant
only to mean well, and to protect.
Christ turned his singular cheek,
one man's holiness another's absurdity.
Like you, the rest of us obey the sting,
the surge. I'm just speaking out loud
to cancel my silence. Consider it an old impulse,
doomed to become mere words.
The first poet probably spoke to thunder
and, for a while, believed
thunder had an ear and a choice.
by Stephen Dunn, from Between Angels
Pulitzer Prize Winner for Poetry
Joe Riley ~ Panhala
Tomorrow it will be three years.
The tragedies continue and the madness grows.
I hope, though, that we will never forget the lives that were lost that day no matter what our politics or fears.
If you're interested, this is my contribution:
American Book of the Dead
The music is by Dire Straits.
(This is a large file and best viewed after the music begins; not recommended for dial-up connections unless you're really patient.) Previous posts about September 11th to this group were two poems by Hafiz (I can think of no one who speaks better to these troubled times).
If you're interested:
A Great Need (story of a poem)
Alone Looking at the Mountain
All the birds have flown up and gone;
A lonely cloud floats leisurely by.
We never tire of looking at each other -
Only the mountain and I.
These mountains and rivers and this land are all
the sea of Buddha-nature.. .
To see mountains and rivers is to see Buddha-nature.
[Shobogenzo, Buddha-Nature (Bussho)]
Jackson Peterson [email protected]
Alan Larus ~ HarshaSatsangh
Golden corn is in the breeze,
and sound of leaves
Every horse is out to run
leaving just an open gate
One field, one lake
where this body walks a while,
When sky is filled with silver wings,
it's sitting straight
And so the one with thirst for this
arriving at the opposite
In the centre
here she is
Flowers in the shade of trees,
so clear a stream
so close is peace
Viorica Weissman ~ MillionPaths
Narayana Iyer: Is the sankalpa [will, intention] of the jnani not capable of warding off the destinies of devotees?
Maharshi: Does the jnani have a sankalpa at all? The jivanmukta [ the enlightened one] can have no sankalpa whatsoever. It is just impossible.
Narayana Iyer: Then what is the fate of all of us who pray to you to have grace on us and save us? Will we not be benefited or saved by sitting in front of you or coming to you? What is the use of people like me coming to see you?
Maharshi: A person's bad karma will be considerably reduced while he is in the presence of the jnani. A jnani has no sankalpa but his presiding presence, the most powerful force, can do wonders. It can save souls, give peace of mind, even liberation to ripe souls. Your prayers are not answered by the jnani, they are absorbed by his presence. His presence alone saves you, wards off karma and even gives you boons, if that is what you want. But he does it all involuntarily. The jnani does save devotees, but not by sankalpa, which is non-existent in him. It is all done by the presiding presence, the sannidhi.
~ Nothing Ever Happened
David Godman, vol 3
Sherab ~ Daily Dharma
"Say for instance, that you're meditating, and a feeling
anger toward your mother appears. Immediately, the
mind's reaction is to identify the anger as 'my' anger, or to
say that 'I'm' angry. It then elaborates on the feeling, either
working it into the story of your relationship to your
mother, or to your general views about when and where
anger toward one's mother can be justified.
"The problem with all this, from the Buddha's
is that these stories and views entail a lot of suffering. The
more you get involved in them, the more you get distracted
from seeing the actual cause of the suffering: the labels of 'I'
and 'mine' that set the whole process in motion. As a result,
you can't find the way to unravel that cause and bring the
suffering to an end."
From the essay, "Emptiness," by Thanissaro
Bhikkhu, on the web site,
"Access To Insight".
"Take a commonplace, clean it and polish it, light it so that it produces the same effect of youth and freshness and originality and spontaneity as it did originally, and you have done a poet's job. The rest is literature."
photo by Sam Pasciencier http://home.hccnet.nl/sam.pas/odds_and_ends/photos/photo_41.html
Rainer Maria Rilke
Perhaps it's no more than the fire's reflection
on some piece of gleaming furniture
that the child remembers so much later
like a revelation.
And if in his later life, one day
wounds him like so many others,
it's because he mistook some risk
or other for a promise.
Let's not forget the music, either,
that soon had hauled him
toward absence complicated
by an overflowing heart....
Translated by A. Poulin from
Sherab ~ Daily Dharma
"The path includes all experiences, both serene
and chaotic. We delight in the beauty of the snow
falling outside the windows or the light
reflecting off the floor. But when the fire alarm
rings and confusion erupts, we feel irritated and
upset... we've done something
wrong, or more usually someone ELSE has done
something to ruin our beautiful meditation. As
someone once said about a loud, bossy woman,
'What is that woman doing in my sacred world?'
"How can we help? The way that we can help is by
making friends with our own feelings of hatred,
bewilderment, and so forth. Then we can accept
them in others. With this practice you begin to
realize that you're capable of playing all the
parts. It's not just them, it's 'us' AND 'them.'
"So lest you find yourself condescendingly doing
tonglen for the other one who's SO confused, you
could remember that this is a practice where
compassion begins to arise in you because you
yourself have been there. You've been angry,
jealous and lonely. You know what it's like and
you know how sometimes you do strange things.
Because you're lonely, you say cruel words:
because you want someone to love you, you insult
them. Exchanging yourself for others...doesn't
happen because you're better than they are but
because human beings share the same stuff. The
more you understand your own, the more you're
going to understand others."
From the book, "Start Where You Are,"
published by Shambala.
Pete ~ Advaita to Zen
No-Mind doesn't communicate with mind, and this drives mind
into a frenzy. Confronted with this 'utter simplicity', this
'monolithic incomprehensibility', the discursive mind goes into
a frenzy of speculation. It reminds me, of the Zen story of
the hungry dog who finds a boiling cauldron of fat. It can
not lick it up, and it can not leave it alone. For the dog,
this is a problem with no acceptable solution. The only
answer is to leave the cauldron alone until it cools, but
that's precisely what the dog, and the mind can't do.
This phase is not in itself unproductive. It's the phase
which has given birth to the great religions, and the
religious movements and reformations. Of course, only
religious geniuses get to be that productive. Average Joes,
like us, only post a lot of philosophical juggling, like this one.
When in sheer exhaustion, the discursive mind stops its
spinning and becomes quiet and attentive, a deeper mind,
as it were, begins to intuitively move with No-Mind. This
is like dancing in the dark. A dance in which the mind
doesn't see its partner, but unerringly follows. It's a
mysterious infallibility of action and feelings. An
infallibility which doesn't mean that, the results are always
what the mind wanted or expected, but rather that what had
to happen gets done without fear, regret, or
To live, act, and feel without understanding, or assurances
takes a lot of getting used to, the discursive mind hates
to abandon control to an unseen presence. This mind here, is
still adjusting to it. It is still a clumsy dancer. Still
trying to look at its feet, even when dancing in the dark. :)
I know this sounds awfully dualistic, and I'm aware that no
one can speak of this without falsification, but let's face it,
'Unicity' includes an apparent duality which will never vanish
while in the flesh. This apparent duality must be dealt with,
as if real. Trucks, will always be trucks, and jumping out of the
way of a speeding truck, is the only thing to do. Not even a jhani
can philosophize the darn things to a stop.
Gill Eardley ~ Allspirit Inspiration
Just as the highest and the lowest notes are equally
inaudible, so perhaps, is the greatest sense and the
greatest nonsense equally unintelligible.
The Daily Meditation
If you would like to create a work of art,
remodel a house
or start a family, expectations can be a problem, even a
barrier. But if you don't have any aspiration, nothing may
get accomplished. In Zen training we are often urged to
drop our expectations, but that doesn't necessarily mean to
resign to our life just as we know it. Expectations are
pictures of what we want for ourselves, what we assume
we need or what we think is going to satisfy us; they have
to do with getting. Aspiration has to do with giving; it
involves something I can give myself to, and that change in
direction is what makes all the difference.
The Bodhisattva Vows are a grand aspiration, the
you can commit yourself to. "Sentient beings are
numberless, I vow to save them" or, "I vow to attain the
Buddha Way." Of course we may not really know what this
entails. We may not really know all sentient beings and we
may not understand what saving means at this point. But
we vow to save them anyway! We may not know what the
Buddha Way is and we may not know what attaining
means. And yet we vow to attain It! As our practice
matures, our aspiration will grow stronger and we will
start to see how to put these vows into action.
Anton Tenkei Coppens is the abbot of Zen River in Holland.
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