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#2314 - Sunday, November 13, 2005 - Editor: Gloria Lee  


The Buddha’s Last Instruction  

“Make of yourself a light,”
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal – a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
even green.
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire –
clearly I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.
  ~ Mary Oliver ~   (House of Light)

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  "The Buddha said that if in a certain moment or place you adopt
something as the absolute truth, and you attach to that, then you will
no longer have any chance to reach the truth.  Even when the truth
comes and personally knocks on your door, and asks you to open the
door, you won't recognize it.  So you must not be too attached to
dogmas - to what you believe, and to what you perceive."
~Thich Nhat Hanh ~

From the article, "Beyond Views," published in Parabola magazine,
Winter 2005 issue.

posted to Daily Dharma  


What Practice Is Not -- Joko Beck  

Many people practice and have strong ideas of what practice is. 
What I want to do is to state from my point of view what practice is

First, practice is not about producing psychological change. If we
practice with intelligence, psychological change will be produced; I
am not questioning that - in fact, it's wonderful. I am saying that
practice is not done in order to produce such change.

Practice is not about intellectually knowing the physical nature of
reality, what the universe consists of, or how it works. And again,
in a serious practice, we will tend to have some knowledge of such
matters. But that is not what practice is.

Practice is not about achieving some blissful state. It's not about
having visions. It's not about seeing white lights (or pink or blue
ones). All of these things may occur, and if we sit long enough they
probably will. But that is not what practice is about.

Practice is not about having or cultivating special powers. There
are many of these and we all have some of them naturally; some
people have them in extra measure. At the Zen Center Los Angeles I
sometimes had the useful ability to see what was being served for
dinner two doors away. If they were having something I didn't like,
I didn't go. Such abilities are little oddities, and again they are
not what practice is about.

Practice is not about personal power or joriki, the strength that is
developed in years of sitting. Again, joriki is a natural by-product
of zazen. And again it is not the way

Practice is not about having nice feelings, happy feelings.  It's
not about feeling good as opposed to feeling bad. It's not an
attempt to be anything special or feel anything special. The product
of practice or the point of practice or what practice is about is
not to be always calm and collected. Again, we tend to be much more
so after years of practice, but it is not the point.

Practice is not about some bodily state in which we are never ill,
never hurt, one in which we have no bothersome ailments. Sitting
tends to have health benefits for many people, though in the course
of practice there may be months or even years of health disasters.
But again, seeking perfect health is not the way; although by and
large, over time, there will be beneficial health for most people.
But no guarantees!

Practice is not about achieving an omniscient state in which a
person knows all about everything, a state in which a person is an
authority on any and all worldly problems. There may be a little
more clarity on such matters, but clever people have been known to
say and do foolish things.

Practice is not about being "spiritual," at least not as this word
if often understood. Practice is not about being anything. So unless
we see that we cannot aim at being "spiritual," it can be a
seductive and harmful objective.

Practice is not about highlighting all sorts of "good" qualities and
getting rid of "bad" ones. No one is "good" or "bad." The struggle
to be good is not what practice is. That type of training is a
subtle form of athleticism.

We could continue our listing almost endlessly. Actually anyone in
practice has some of these delusions operating. We all hope to
change, to get somewhere! That in itself is the basic fallacy. But
just contemplating this desire begins to clarify it, and the
practice basis of our life alters as we do so. We begin to
comprehend that our frantic desire to get better, to
get "somewhere," is illusion itself, and the source of suffering.

If our boat full of hope, illusions, and ambition (to get somewhere,
to be spiritual, to be perfect, to be enlightened) is capsized, what
is that empty boat? Who are we? What, in terms of our lives, can we
realize? And what is practice?

Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen

posted by Josie to Ordinary Mind


photo by Alan Larus



"The ones who see us all as wise men don't care about Indians at all.
They just care about the idea of Indians.  It's just another way of
stealing our humanity and making us into a fantasy that fits the needs
of white people.

You want to know how to be like Indians? Live close to the earth. Get
rid of some of your things. Help each other. Talk to the Creator. Be
quiet more. Listen to the earth instead of building things on it all
the time.

Don't blame other people for your troubles and don't try to make
people into something they're not."

Chapter - 15 - Shiny Soup
Neither Wolf nor Dog - On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder

Kent Nerburn  
posted by Viorica Weissman to The Power of Silence

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