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Jerry Katz
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The wind carves shapes into the beach sand

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Nonduality Highlights: Issue #3758, Sunday, December 27, 2009, Editor: Mark

The teaching of Advaita is to know what you are through knowing what you are not. You are not thoughts or the body. There is no person, no separate, independently functioning and controlling I.

Negate all that you know, stop the search for just a moment and notice the simplicity of This, with no thoughts, labels, concepts; what is left is nothingness, what you really are.

Nothingness arising as the world.

- Randall Friend, from You Are No Thing, posted to AlongTheWay

In the beginner's mind there is no thought. "I have attained something. " All self-centered thoughts limit our vast mind. When we have no thought of achievement, no thought of self, we are true beginners. Then we can really learn something.

- Shunryu Suzuki, posted to Distillation

Can we look at our lives in such a way? Can we look at all of the aspects of our lives with this mind, just open to see what there is to see? I dont know about you, but I have a hard time doing that. I have a lot of habits of mind - I think most of us do. Children begin to lose that innocent quality after a while, and soon they want to be the "one who knows." We all want to be the one who knows. But if we decide we know something, we are not open to other possibilities anymore. And thats a shame. We lose something very vital in our life when its more important to us to be one who knows than it is to be awake to what's happening. We get disappointed because we expect one thing, and it doesnt happen quite like that. Or we think something ought to be like this, and it turns out different. Instead of saying, "Oh, isnt that interesting," we say, "Yuck, not what I thought it would be." Pity. The very nature of beginner's mind is not knowing in a certain way, not being an expert. As Suzuki Roshi said in the prologue to Zen Mind Beginner's Mind, In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's there are few. As an expert, youve already got it figured out, so you dont need to pay attention to what's happening. Pity.

How can we cultivate this mind that is free to just be awake? In zazen, in just sitting, in sitting and noticing the busyness of our mind and all of the fixed views that we carry. Once we noticed the fixed views that we are carrying around with us, the preconceptions that we are carrying around with us, then it is possible for us to let them go and say, "Well, maybe so, maybe not." Suzuki Roshi once said, "The essence of Zen is 'Not Always So'." "Not always so." It's a good little phrase to carry around when you're sure. It gives you an opportunity to look again more carefully and see what other possibilities there might be in the situation.

- Zenkei Blanche Hartman

Then you begin to realize that whats happening is just whats happening. Whether its outside or whats being triggered in you, its just whats happening. And all this other stuff is laid on top of it by the thoughts: the good and the bad, and the right and the wrong, and the should and the shouldnt.

So, what Dale [Asrael] said yesterday is "When you break the identification with the thoughts, suddenly there's space." And I wrote that down because that has been my experience.

That's a hard one, but it's helpful to know it as something that you just know, that when you label thinking and go back to the present moment, being with the breath or the body sensations or sounds, whatever - coming back to the immediacy of your experience - there's the possibility of the very real, that moment has the potential of connecting with space, or opening up the space. Choosing a fresh alternative.

When you don't choose the same old way, the same old stale story line, then there's the opportunity for something new and fresh to present itself to you. The world can open up in an unprecedented way.

- Pema Chodron

The New Rule

It's the old rule that drunks have to argue
and get into fights.
The lover is just as bad. he falls into a hole.
But down in that hole he finds something shining,
worth more than any amount of money or power.

Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street.
I took it as a sign to start singing,
falling up into the bowl of sky.
The bowl breaks. Everywhere is falling everywhere.
Nothing else to do.

Here's the new rule: break the wineglass,
and fall toward the glassblower's breath.

Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.
Walk out like someone suddenly born into color.
Do it now.
Your covered with thick cloud.
Slide out the side. Die,
and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign
that you've died.
Your old life was a frantic running
from silence.
The speechless full moon
comes out now.

"I used to want buyers for my words.
Now I wish someone would buy me away from words.

I've made a lot of charmingly profound images,
scenes with Abraham, and Abraham's father, Azar,
who was also famous for icons.

I'm so tired of what I've been doing.

Then one image without form came,
and I quit.

Look for someone else to tend the shop.
I'm out of the image-making business.

Finally I know the freedom
of madness

. A random image arrives. I scream,
"Get out!" It disintegrates.

Only love.
Only the holder the flag fits into,
and wind. No flag. "

- Rumi, version by Coleman Barks

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