"Always now - just now - come into being.
Always now - just now - give yourself to death.
Practicing this truth is Zen practice."
~ Soko Morinaga ~
- The Fire Sermon -
"Adittapariyaya Sutta: The Fire Sermon" (SN 35.28), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, 30 June 2010, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn35/sn35.028.than.html .
Retrieved on 29 October 2013.
A nice, short, meditation on the futility of grasping at the present moment…
Once a shimmering emerald, the great salt marshes at my Church are now a
scumbled orange, yellow, red and green.
Newly-golden devotees to Sister Wind practice their undulating prostrations
in honor of Her glory.
The regal Egrets have left for the winter. In their place, ending a long journey
from the Arctic - are plucky Sanderlings who spend their days
at the edge of the sea darting back and forth with the foam
probing the sand with their beaks for food.
Our bitter winters are their summers. They will leave again in the spring to mate and fledge babies.
Two old friends..
…an old abandoned shell...
..a feather and its lyrical shadow in the late afternoon sun…
…even running water...
They all exclaim the First Dharma Seal - Impermanence.
(Image from Wikimedia Commons)
Do not let your time pass idly. Either keep a rosary with you and do japa; or if this does not suit you, at least go on repeating the Name of the Lord regularly and without interruption like the ticking of a clock. There are no rules or restrictions in this. Invoke Him by the Name that appeals to you most, for as much time as you can--the longer the better. Even if you get tired or lose interest, administer the Name to yourself like a medicine that has to be taken. In this way you will at some auspicious moment discover the rosary of the mind, and then you will continually hear within yourself the praises of the great Master, the Lord of Creation, like the never ceasing music of the boundless ocean; You will hear the land and the sea, the air and the heavens reverberate with the song of His glory. This is called the all--pervading Presence of His Name.
Silent japa should be engaged in at all times. One must not waste breath uselessly; whenever one has nothing special to do, one should silently practice japa in rhythm with one’s breathing. In fact, this exercise should go on continually until doing japa has become as natural as breathing.
"Sutra Clouds of Frozen Breath"
That simple yet evocative phrase brought me back to chanting at Mun Su Sa in Wakefield in the freezing January/February morning darkness. I had first hand experience with "Sutra clouds of frozen breath."
"..You're out there walking down a highway
And all of the signs got blown away
Sometimes you wonder if you're walking in the wrong direction
But if you break down
I'll drive out and find you
If you forget my love
I'll try to remind you
And stay by you when it don't come easy.."
"When it Don't Come Easy" ~ Patty Griffin
"…this, finally, is what real holiness both is and is for - love of others.
It's so simple.
Holiness that does not love is not real holiness at all. And more than this even, if we're to believe the words of Jesus Himself today, holiness by its very nature urges that when we notice someone lacking in holiness themselves, someone going astray, someone lost, that we head out into that darkness with them, away from the safety of what we think we've earned or deserve and into the wilderness of of the stray one's lostness - into the darkness of, to put it in biblical terms, their sin.."
September 15 Sermon - Rev. Tina Rathbone Cathedral Church of St Paul
"How are we treating the people of God? I dream of a church that is a mother and shepherdess. The church’s ministers must be merciful, take responsibility for the people and accompany them like the good Samaritan, who washes, cleans and raises up his neighbor. This is pure Gospel. God is greater than sin. …. The ministers of the Gospel must be people who can warm the hearts of the people, who walk through the dark night with them, who know how to dialogue and to descend themselves into their people’s night, into the darkness, but without getting lost."
August 2013 Interview - La Civiltà Cattolica - Pope Francis
Whenever you advise a ruler in the way of Tao,
Counsel him not to use force to conquer the universe.
For this would only cause resistance.
Thorn bushes spring up wherever the army has passed.
Lean years follow in the wake of a great war.
Just do what needs to be done.
Never take advantage of power.
But never glory in them.
But never boast.
But never be proud.
Because this is the natural way.
But not through violence.
Force is followed by loss of strength.
This is not the way of Tao.
That which goes against the Tao comes to an early end.
Good weapons are instruments of fear; all creatures hate them.
Therefore followers of Tao never use them.
The wise man prefers the left.
The man of war prefers the right.
Weapons are instruments of fear; they are not a wise man's tools.
He uses them only when he has no choice.
Peace and quiet are dear to his heart,
And victory no cause for rejoicing.
If you rejoice in victory, then you delight in killing;
If you delight in killing, you cannot fulfill yourself……..
Tao Te Ching - Gia Fu Feng / Jane English Translation
It seemed like the preacher today was struggling with whether a US strike against Syria would be a good thing or not. At one point he cautioned that we should deeply consider what the result of "Failing To Act" would be, as if choosing not to launch cruise missiles is a "Failure." Perhaps I misunderstood. I doubt it though, mainly because I'm not that much of a dunce.
In times like this, my mongrel nature kicks in and I refer back to my other tradition for guidance.
The Buddha was crystal clear about violence.
He was not conflicted.
In the Dhammapada the Buddha starts right off:
Phenomena are preceded by the heart, ruled by the heart, made of the heart. If you speak or act with a corrupted heart, then suffering follows you — as the wheel of the cart, the track of the ox that pulls it. Phenomena are preceded by the heart, ruled by the heart, made of the heart. If you speak or act with a calm, bright heart, then happiness follows you, like a shadow that never leaves.
'He insulted me, hit me, beat me, robbed me' — for those who brood on this, hostility isn't stilled. 'He insulted me, hit me, beat me, robbed me' — for those who don't brood on this, hostility is stilled. Hostilities aren't stilled through hostility, regardless. Hostilities are stilled through non-hostility: this, an unending truth. Unlike those who don't realize that we're here on the verge of perishing, those who do: their quarrels are stilled.
All tremble at the rod, all are fearful of death. Drawing the parallel to yourself, neither kill nor get others to kill. All tremble at the rod, all hold their life dear. Drawing the parallel to yourself, neither kill nor get others to kill.
Whoever takes a rod to harm living beings desiring ease, when he himself is looking for ease, will meet with no ease after death. Whoever doesn't take a rod to harm living beings desiring ease, when he himself is looking for ease, will meet with ease after death.
The purpose of my life is not just to find happiness for myself and to solve all of my own problems. The purpose of my life is to free the numberless sentient beings, making myself useful and beneficial to them. I will free each of them from all their sufferings and lead them to happiness in this life, happiness in future lives, perfect rebirths, the ultimate happiness of liberation from samsara, and then the peerless happiness of full enlightenment.
"Wheel of Great Compassion" ~ Lorne Ladner and Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Today at the One o'clock at the Cathedral I was given the honor of reading the Gospel. It was Matthew 23:13-22. It's just below with a few more verses thrown in for good measure.
Executive Summary for those not inclined to read the Gospel:
Jesus is >fucking< pissed.
He's teeing off on the gatekeepers to holiness in his day, and he does not hold back.
Here's the reading:
13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. 
15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.
23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
It's a shame that Jesus was not alive today to deliver the message above or my other ass-kicking favorite, Matthew 25:31-46. He could have reached so many more people. Maybe He could have had His own cable show. Or, He could have posted on Facebook, or maybe sent bits of ass kicking out in separate tweets from His Samsung Galaxy phone..
I don't know though…
it was some pretty unpopular stuff He delivered, even more unpopular today than it was then since we've had the millennia to perfect our materialistic and ego-centric approaches to life. His cable show might tank. And his FB friends might block His posts muttering to themselves that "He has issues. So angry..." Even the Son 'O God would eventually learn the hard way that FB is for pictures of food before you eat it, pictures of dogs, inspirational quotes, and workout totals. After a while He'd probably be bleeding followers on Twitter too..
Still, if He was alive today, Jesus might not have ended up tacked to a cross.
Although - the NSA/FBI/CIA might want to have a little chat with Him.. just a little chat..
Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel NY is a wonderful place to visit if you are ever in the general area. It sits on over 200 acres of lovely woods. The monastery buildings including the Great Hall are set far back from Rt 301 The whole site is very quiet. The focal point (for me anyway) is the twenty six foot tall seated Vairocana - the largest seated Buddha in the western hemisphere.
From the B.A.U.S. website:
In the Mahayana doctrine of the threefold bodies of the Buddha, Vairocana is the cosmic embodiment of the historical Buddha. Of the three bodies, Vairocana is regarded as the highest form, a god of light whose reflection throughout the universe is represented as endless. His wisdom is the wisdom of the Dharmadhatu. The Dharmadhatu is the realm of truth in which all things exist as they really are. Vairocana’s wisdom is also referred to as the all-pervading wisdom of the dharmadhatu, the absolute Buddha-nature.
In paintings, Vairocana is colored in white to symbolize a pure consciousness. As the supreme Buddha, his characteristic gesture is the mudra of the six elements in which the index finger of the left hand is clasped by the five fingers of the right, symbolizing the uniting of the five elements of the material world (earth, water, fire, air and ether) with the spiritual consciousness.
In the image above, you can see the great Dharma hall being prepared for the Sunday chanting service with rows and rows of covered chant books. By the time we left, around 10:00AM, the parking lot had already begun to fill up with folks attending the noon time service.
Yesterday, the Dharma hall bulged with Vairocana's energy (It also bulged because of the fisheye lens).
In December of 2009, the last time I visited the monastery, it was a cold, snow squally day. Instead of the bustle of volunteers setting up for Sunday service, the Monastery was largely empty except for the few monks I bumped into..
Bustling or empty, summer or winter, the Chuang Yen Monastery is a beautiful spot well worth your time and attention..
"Now, I, Vairocana Buddha am sitting atop a lotus pedestal; On a thousand flowers surrounding me are a thousand Sakyamuni Buddhas. Each flower supports a hundred million worlds; in each world a Sakyamuni Buddha appears. All are seated beneath a Bodhi-tree, all simultaneously attain Buddhahood. All these innumerable Buddhas have Vairocana as their original body." - Brahma Net Sutra -
(quote via Wikipedia)
Paid a quick visit to Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel NY this morning on the way back from a wedding. More pics here.
Vairocana's cosmic vision certainly puts things in their proper perspective
Regarding Doubt -
"We feel that if we have doubts, it means that we are denying the teachings and that we should really have unquestioning faith. Now in certain religions, unquestioning faith is considered a desirable quality. But in the Buddha-dharma, this is not necessarily so. Referring to the dharma, the Buddha said, 'ehi passiko,' which means 'come and see,' or 'come and investigate,' not 'come and believe.' "
- Ani Tenzin Palmo, “Necessary Doubt"
(quote via Meetingbrook)
With the rest of the country celebrating Independence day today, I thought it might be a good idea to visit somewhere that was more about Inter-dependence, the Peace Pagoda in Leverett MA. Doff and I made the best vegetarian sammitches ever (and I mean ever), packed them in a cooler with some fresh fruit and cold water and were on the road by about noon time.
I don't know where everyone else was today - but there were stretches of Route 2 that looked like the Rapture had happened and Doff and I were the only two sinners not snatched up to our Heavenly reward. Nobody but nobody was out today. Driving was spectacular!
We got to the Pagoda Parking lot by about 2:00 and were so famished that we devoured the gallactically good veggie sammitches while leaning against Carl (the Camry).
It was a hot, dry, day. Luckily, at the top of the hill where where the Pagoda is - there was an amazing breeze.
Here are a few pics from the day along with, at the very bottom, an image of Mission Statement V2.0 from the Very Venerable Nichdatsu Fujii written back in 1953..
What a great interdependence day!
But then again - every day is interdependence day..
The new Temple is complete. Now open for morning and evening prayer.
Open your prayer books to the Anatta-lakkhana Sutta and read along with the Buddha.
Doff discovered this guy even though he had cleverly camouflaged himself with a pine needle.
The prayer flags sending out their prayers on the wind..
"It is imperative that we replace the materialism and economy-centered ways of thinking
which have served as the fundamental principles of
social organizations and replace them
by community based on
and mutual aid and
develop the life of tangyo ra hai,
the offering of respect to everyone."
~ The Most Venerable Nichidatsu Fujii ~
(Now that's a mission statement.)
[More Peace Pagoda images can be seen by clicking here.]
Does one really have to fret about enlightenment?
No matter what road I travel I'm going home.
(Quote via Whiskey River)
“I have lived at Cold Mountain
These thirty long years.
Yesterday I called on friends and family:
More than half had gone to the Yellow Springs.
Slowly consumed, like fire down a candle;
Forever flowing, like a passing river.
Now, morning, I face my lone shadow:
Suddenly my eyes are bleared with tears.”
"I have no right to call myself one who knows. I was one who seeks, and I still am, but I no longer seek in the stars or in the books; I'm beginning to hear the teachings of my blood pulsing within me. My story isn't pleasant. It's not sweet and harmonious like invented stories. It tastes of folly and bewilderment, of madness and dream, like the life of all people who no longer want to lie to themselves."
- Hermann Hesse
(quote via Whiskey River)
Magníficat ánima mea Dóminum.
Et exultávit spíritus meus: in Deo salutári meo.
Quia respéxit humilitátem ancíllae suae:
Ecce enim ex hoc beátam me dicent omnes generatiónes.
Quia fécit mihi mágna qui pótens est: et sánctum nómen eius.
Et misericórdia eius in progénies et progénies timéntibus eum.
Fécit poténtiam in bráchio suo: dispérsit supérbos mente cordis sui.
Depósuit poténtes de sede: et exaltávit húmiles.
Esuriéntes implévit bonis: et dívites dimísit inánes.
Suscépit Ísrael púerum suum: recordátus misericórdiae suae.
Sicut locútus est ad patres nostros: Ábraham, et sémini eius in saecula.
Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto,
Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculórum. Amen.
In this liminal space I find myself in, instead of simply letting things take their course without grasping or aversion, I spent the past week painstakingly constructing a prison of juicy expectations and sunny daydreams of the future. When things did not go as expected, those prison doors slammed shut with a sobering clang. Despair and me were cellmates.
And - what a shitty time to be engaging in such self-centered delusion, what with my Church closed down for the season and salt-water poultices being scarce on the ground.
What an idiot. I behaved as if I had not heard one word of the Dharma spoken ever - at all. A Hungry Ghost running after dreams of "happier" times.
For whatever reason the Second Noble Truth popped into my mind today. That's the one that says essentially "The source of all your suffering is attachment."
This past week had been object lesson in the Second Noble Truth.
So - the cell door has squeaked open enough for me to pass back outside into the breezy contingencies of daily life. Despair called out from our cell telling me he'd be there for me the next time I forget about how things roll.. He said he'd always be there for me..
Some folks are gonna feel a little silly in the end, because way, way, way, outside the pronouncements of some speerchul clubs where some high falutin' members get to say who is a lamb and who is a goat and who is in and who is out and who will be saved and who will not, there is this fellow above, Amida Buddha, working tirelessly to save all sentient beings. He has said that all one has to do is call his name as few as 10 times to be saved.
You're all good.
And just in case - if one or two of you skipped over the recitation of Amida's name and are in slight danger of falling through the cracks into H-E-DoubleToothpicks, there is this guy below, Jijang Bosal, who has taken a vow to free all beings that find themselves in hell realms. JiJang Bosal does this regardless of how they got themselves there - by not believing in something or other - by being a great sinner - no matter - JiJang Bosal will work until the end of time freeing all sentient beings from all the various hell realms.
So that should pretty much cover everyone.
Now that you all know this - there is really no need to make a big deal about this to those of our fellow humans who may see things differently. Honrestly, it will just upset them. In the end they'll see - and yes, they might feel a little silly when it comes to their turn and they find themselves hanging out with all the rest of us sinners, doubters, apostates and heretics - but that feeling will no doubt fade as the scintillating realization of complete and total enlightenment and salvation for every living thing gently descends upon them..
Carry on chilluns.. carry on.
Proverbs - Chapter 8 Verses 1-4, 22-31
1 Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
2 At the highest point along the way,
where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
3 beside the gate leading into the city,
at the entrance, she cries aloud:
4 “To you, O people, I call out;
I raise my voice to all mankind.
22 “The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works,
before his deeds of old;
23 I was formed long ages ago,
at the very beginning, when the world came to be.
24 When there were no watery depths, I was given birth,
when there were no springs overflowing with water;
25 before the mountains were settled in place,
before the hills, I was given birth,
26 before he made the world or its fields
or any of the dust of the earth.
27 I was there when he set the heavens in place,
when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
28 when he established the clouds above
and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
29 when he gave the sea its boundary
so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
30 Then I was constantly at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,
31 rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.
At the Great Cathedral of Sky, Sun, Wind and Water - if one listens carefully, one can still hear Wisdom calling out -
Geese honking -
Gulls squawking -
Plovers cheeping -
Blowing sand whispering at one's feet -
Flags snapping -
Waves breaking -
Emerald green acres of marsh grass dancing in the wind..
One long, continuous lesson.
Free of charge.
Farewell after a "Craft Lecture"
"Fair winds. Go forth. Save up little pieces that escape other people--your dreams, the side glances your irresponsible mind makes, snatches of talk, whiffs from encounters. Pick up the gleanings.
And remember to be on guard against the routines you think you know, the forced commitments that you shun questioning.
Be careful of 'craft.' "
"The Answers Are Inside the Mountains" ~ William Stafford
Before this is lost to the winds of forgetfulness -
As told to me by my Teacher:
Long ago there was an Emperor who wanted to host an opulent banquet. He invited dignitaries from all across the land. He invited the kingdom's most revered Zen Master to be the guest of honor.
When the invitation arrived at the Zen Master's hermitage, he gathered his spare set of robes, his begging bowl and his staff with the six jangly rings on it, and set off for the celebration. After many days of walking, the Zen Master arrived at the gates to the Emperor's palace. He was met there by a guard.
"Who are you?" barked the guard.
Showing his invitation, the Zen Master replied "I have been invited by the Emperor to attend his great celebration."
The guard squinted at the invitation and then at the Zen Master, "Look old man, this is a very refined gathering, you can't attend it looking as you do. I mean, come on, your robes are threadbare and dirty and seem to be mostly made of patches. Go away now. Stop bothering me."
The Zen Master turned on his heel and walked straightaway to the town center. He placed his begging bowl at his feet and started chanting. By the end of the day, Zen Master had gathered so many donations, he could afford a beautiful set of brocade golden robes.
The next day, wearing his new robes, the Zen Master once more approached the Emperor's front gate. He was immediately ushered in and was seated at a place of honor at the banquet table. Platters of delicious food were brought forth from the kitchen and all the guests selected mounds of tasty morsels for their plates.
After a few welcoming words from the Emperor, guests began to enjoy the feast. A disturbance erupted near the Zen Master. Guests seated near him gasped in horror and disgust. The Zen Master was taking great handfuls of food and rubbing them all over his beautiful golden robes.
The Emperor, seeing the disturbance approached Zen Master yelling "Stop! Stop! What are you doing? What is the meaning of this?"
The Zen Master stopped rubbing food on his clothes, looked up at the Emperor and said "When I arrived at the gates to the your home the other day, I was forbidden entrance because my robes, which are tattered and mostly made from patches, were dusty from my long journey. I purchased these beautiful new robes yesterday to wear instead. When I presented myself, dressed as I am, at your gate today, I was shown to this place of honor at your banquet table."
"I am rubbing this food all over these new robes because this banquet was intended for these lovely new robes and not for me.."
The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised. Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart. If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinion for or against. The struggle of what one likes and what one dislikes is the disease of the mind.
"Hsin-Hsin Min" - Sosan 3rd Zen Patriarch
At the Cathedral yesterday, it was as if Sosan Dae Sa - the great Zen Patriarch came back to life, climbed to the podium, thumped his gnarled Zen stick on the floor, and preached his lovely poem "Faith in Mind." Although the preacher didn't use Sosan's poem directly, he preached a very moving sermon about the the disease we humans all carry within us - that of drawing lines of "Us vs Them." He did this specifically in reference to the two young men responsible for the Marathon bombings. He said (and I am paraphrasing his beautiful words with my own faulty memory and inarticulations) drawing the line of Us/Them, In/Out, Good/Bad is all too human. The very act of drawing that line, though, is death. Death. In fact, the preacher said that the line of distinction was his understanding of Original Sin.
This is one of the many things I love about this joint. They try and act out this concept of radical inclusion. I see it all around me when I am there. I see it by who shows up and who is welcomed and who participates. Before every weekly Eucharist , they say "This is God's table, not ours. As such, all are welcome to share bread and wine." As it was at Larry's Church, I don't have to feel like an outlaw to take communion.
The Cathedral often records sermons and posts them on their website. If the sermon shows up - I'll post a link to it here.
What a pain in the ass…
Why couldn't the J-man have given me an out?
Why did he have to say in Matthew:
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Why did the Buddha have to go and convert Angulimala (the serial killer that made a mala with the fingers of his victims) to a monk and member of his Sangha?
Why did HH the Dalai Lama have to say:
"I must emphasize again that merely thinking that compassion and reason and patience are good will not be enough to develop them. We must wait for difficulties to arise and then attempt to practice them.
And who creates such opportunities? Not our friends, of course, but our enemies. They are the ones who give us the most trouble, So if we truly wish to learn, we should consider enemies to be our best teacher!
For a person who cherishes compassion and love, the practice of tolerance is essential, and for that, an enemy is indispensable. So we should feel grateful to our enemies, for it is they who can best help us develop a tranquil mind!"
They're all big fat pains in the balls if you ask me… the whole lot of them..
Why couldn't it have been written somewhere: "Thou shalt love thine enemy, unless thine enemy getteth under thy skin - then it is acceptable to layeth thine enemy to waste with the jawbone of an ass - or at least behaveth towards them in a small and mean spirited manner, spreading calumny against them - thick as ox dung in thine fields..."
It would be a whole lot easier (not to mention fun) to nurse old injuries and slights, tell them over and over again to my friends in order to get much needed validation and then lay in wait for just the right moment to slay mine enemy with the jawbone of an ass (metaphorically speaking, natch)..Perhaps that conditional clause is out there somewhere. Maybe I just have to look harder. Maybe it's like Big Tobacco always says, "More study is required."
"It doesn't matter who becomes pope. It is the ones who walk in selfless recollection of true nature that enliven the kinship and connection of all beings.
All we can do is take one step then another with another quietly passing through the illusions woven by mind and mayhem until we come to see no one walking through no door before complete absence profoundly bowing in the instant to the radiant radical wholeness encapsulating no name in no place attended by nothing other than itself."
- From the mysterious and beautiful Meetinghouse Hermitage
Sasaki Roshi has been a very bad boy.
He's been molesting women for decades. And very much like the course we Catholics take when priests shove a dick up a boy's ass, the good old Zen-Boyz in charge looked the other way and enabled decades of suffering and possible criminal activity.
Of course Zen Buddhism does not have the centralized infrastructure that we Catholics have. So - it takes a bit more work to enable molesters in the Buddhist tradition. There's no Zen-Bishop or Zen-Ratzinger to move these knuckleheads around from sangha to sangha to avoid scandal.
In Zen - it is a much more personalized treatment.
There must be a localized group of enablers that believe. They believe that maybe the teacher with a hard-on is more than just a regular letch, more than just a run-of-the-mill rapist. Maybe he's a little magic. Maybe he shares his magic with women by inserting his holy phallus into their vaginas, or mouths. There's been one or two of these guys that have actually come out and said as much.. "It's for their own good." The believer group act as bouncers. If an abused person comes forward to complain - they are shunned, ridiculed, silenced. And so, abuse can continue.
Leonard Cohen was Sasaki's personal attendant for years at Mt Baldy during the 90's. One wonders how the wise, gentle, artist with the gravelly voice could not have known that his teacher was hurting women. If he did - well then Lenny - fuck you too, baby, because now Everybody Knows.
Then - when it all falls completely apart - as it always eventually does - the victims are proffered this Cardinal Mahony-esque "my training didn't prepare me for dealing with this.." bullshit:
"We see how, knowingly and unknowingly, the community was drawn into an open secret," the council wrote, adding: "We have reports that those who chose to speak out were silenced, exiled, ridiculed or otherwise punished."
Paul Karsten, a spokesman for the center interviewed about the controversy before the council's report was completed, said Roshi was too ill to respond and cautioned that the sexual misconduct allegations had not been verified. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The council of Rinzai-ji oshos — senior Zen teachers ordained under Roshi — however, responded with a public statement: "Our hearts were not firm enough, our minds were not clear enough, and our practices were not strong enough so that we might persist until the problem was resolved. We fully acknowledge now, without any reservation, and with the heaviest of hearts, that because of our failure to address our teacher's sexual misconduct, women and also men have been hurt."
Whenever the focus shifts from the teachings to the teacher - whenever talk springs up about how "Master has special powers!! Master is special!!" it's the slippery slope to mayhem and injury...
Run - and don't look back.
The new house on the street that replaced this one is coming together nicely. Never fear, the Dr Seussian look of the structure is due solely to the 10.5 mm fisheye and then Lightroom 3.6 applying lens correction.. I assure you it's a very nice looking house.
I chose to make the image this way because it captures a kind of strangeness - the way the world just keeps rolling and rolling.. It's that kind of strange you feel when you're at the gas station and you see a child that grew up with your son. You haven't seen her in decades. She looks much the same although sadder. A person with lots of worries. The child gone.
I don't post these pictures or tell these stories to mock people. I don't know any more than they do about how to live a good life. I'm not making a comment on the urge to make a nice place for oneself in the world. I know full well how hard this life is. It's just lately it's all I see, or all I notice. Change. Impermanence. On the one hand very comforting because nothing lasts - even the bad shit. On the other hand, not very comforting at all because nothing lasts - not even the good shit.
It's just change, change, change, change, change… all the way down… change. And at the bottom of it all are creatures like me that try so hard to claw reality to a standstill. Truly, the walls of the well that many of us find ourselves in are lined with fingernail scrapes and blood.
So - no answers here.
No easy or pleasant answers, anyway.
No scripture snippet.
Just change - and the primal urge to make things stop - or at least slow down.
The Samsara Journals..
"Saṃsāra (Sanskrit, Pali; also samsara) is a Buddhist term that literally means "circle" or "wheel" and is commonly translated as "conditioned existence", "cyclic existence", "cycle of existence", etc. Within Buddhism, samsara is defined as the continual repetitive cycle of birth and death that arises from ordinary beings' grasping and fixating on a self and experiences.
Specifically, samsara refers to the process of cycling through one rebirth after another within the six realms of existence,where each realm can be understood as physical realm or a psychological state characterized by a particular type of suffering."
More than any promise of a sky-god who
is my bestest buddy in the whole wide world
and who knows the number of hairs on my head
and who suffers with me
and who bears me up on eagle's wings
or any of the other baloney...
"The Noble Truth of Suffering (dukkha), monks, is this:
Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering,
death is suffering, association with the unpleasant is suffering,
dissociation from the pleasant is suffering,
not to receive what one desires is suffering --
in brief the five aggregates subject to grasping are suffering."
English version of the Heart Sutra can be seen by clicking here.
Mr Chimney was taken down yesterday.
He now lives his life as a small mound of dusty brick
and cement just next to the excavator above.
He thinks the view is quite different than
in his previous incarnation
and wonders what he did wrong.
The original foundation is under siege as well.
Big dump trucks full of sand have arrived too.
Sandy is going to make a swimming hole
out of this mess.
* Anicca is the Pali word for Impermanence,
one of the three marks of existence.
Dear reader -
Please forgive this (possible) re-post. I googled the blog and couldn't find a prior post that matched this - but after nearly 2000 posts since the Great Blog Purge of '09 and at least that many in the years prior - well - I just may be repeating myself..
I was just up on youtube looking for some Impermancey kinds of videos when I ran into the above recording done by Korean artist named Youngdong Kim. Mr Kim recorded the monks at Song Gwang Sa temple in Korea as they chanted the Heart Sutra. He then overlaid the flute and synthesizer parts. The "knocking" you hear is from the Mok Tak - a percussion instrument used in many Korean chants.
I really love the Sunim's chanting. Love. Love. Love. And here's why - it's so sad and full of longing. The Sutra is about Avalokiteshvara teaching one of the Buddha's disciples, Shariputra about emptiness. Avalokiteshvara says Shariputra's name twice in the sutra, once at the beginning of the sutra when he says:
form does not differ from emptiness,
emptiness does not differ from form.
That which is form is emptiness,
that which is emptiness form.
The same is true of feelings,
perceptions, impulses, consciousness.
And then again when he further expounds on emptiness:
all dharmas are marked with emptiness;
they do not appear or disappear,
are not tainted or pure,
do not increase or decrease.
Therefore, in emptiness no form, no feelings,
perceptions, impulses, consciousness.
No eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind;
no color, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch,
no object of mind;
no realm of eyes
In the recording above (and in the Korean chant) though, the Bodhisattva doesn't just doesn't say Shariputra's name (Sharija in the Korean version) again.. He adds the honorific "-shi" suffix. It seems like the Bodhisattva was trying to really make sure Shariputra was paying attention and understood.. kinda like verbally shaking him.. "Sharija-shi !!!"
The sadness of the melody seems so apt to me. After all, how many people upon hearing what the great Bodhisattva of Compassion, Avalokiteshvara had to say about emptiness, truly understood it.. or could put it into practice in our lives?
It's only 2:47 long.. take a listen..
My Tibetan Buddhist brothers and sisters have the lovely practice of the prayer flag. Brightly colored squares of cloth have prayers and aspirations written on them. Many of these squares are then attached to long cords and hung outside in the wind. It is said that when the wind blows, the prayers and aspirations written on them are released to the world.
Above is my digital prayer flag for all who visit here - no matter who you are - or where you are from. It is a picture of JiJang Bosal (my favorite Bodhisattva) over which is written the Metta (or lovingkindness) Prayer.
This digital prayer flag releases its simple aspiration whenever it gets downloaded over the interweb, stored (however fleetingly on your hard drive), and rendered on your screen.
May we be peaceful.
May we be happy.
May we be safe.
May we awaken to the light of our true natures.
May we be free.
The house across the street from us is almost gone now. A piece of the garage and a lonely chimney are about all that remains. The demolition person took bites off the house with his excavator bucket that had been fitted with a "thumb". Then he would drop the mouthful of debris into what had been the basement and carefully break all the big pieces up by pounding them with the bucket. Once the bits were all the right size, the operator scooped them all up and daintily dropped them into a waiting dumpster.
(I ask you - how much fun does that sound like?}
It's been an interesting process to watch. I had a concern yesterday because nobody was spraying the structure down to reduce blowing dust. Ordinary dust was not my worry, it was the bits of pink fiberglass dust that no doubt sprinkled the neighborhood yesterday when the breezes were fresh across the lake.
Dharma quote to go along with today's doings is by The Lord Buddha:
This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds
To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance.
A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky,
Rushing by, like a torrent down a steep mountain.
Buddha (563 - 483 BC)
"When faith ceases to be a challenge to the standards of polite society;
it is no longer, or has not yet become, faith."
~ Donald Spoto ~
(poster by Sojourners)
"i was hungry and you blamed it on the communists
i was hungry and you circled the moon
i was hungry and you told me to wait
i was hungry and you set up a commission
i was hungry and you said "so were my ancestors."
i was hungry and you said, "we don't hire over 35."
i was hungry and you said, "god helps those..."
i was hungry and you told me i shouldn't be
i was hungry and you told me machines do that work now
i was hungry and you had napalm bills to pay
i was hungry and you said, "the poor are always with us."
Lord, when did we see you hungry?"
I am surprised. I've reacted quite viscerally to the story that a couple of gutless, dickless Taliban punks shot a tiny, brave, 14 year-old girl, Malala Yousufzai in the face recently. They did this because they, like all simpering patriarchs, are deathly afraid of educating women and Malala is an advocate for educating girls - an apparently revolutionary stand in some stone-age societies.
As a father I can tell you that perceived threats to my own daughter bypass all higher brain functions and go straight to the lizard brain. The lizard brain quickly spins up all sorts of blood-red vengeance scenarios. Thankfully all the other higher level, more civilized, executive functions in my brain rush in and say things like "No, we're not going to dip that young man in tar then and then feather him." and "No you can't bite him." etc.
In the case of the Taliban punks shooting Malala - my lizard brain has been working overtime. As a result my orbitofrontal cortex has been working up quite a sweat as well keeping things on an even keel.
Anyway - enough of biology.. all you believers - here's a question for you.
I know the J-Man and the B-Man both took a dim view of physical violence against enemies. I mean the J-Man even said things like "Love your enemies" - but how am I to love men who shoot little girls in the face? Do you love them?
What if I do it with love in my heart for them, could I spend an hour or so in a locked room with tough guy Mullah Fazlullah (who ordered the attack) and the little shithead Ataullah who was the trigger man? Would you want to be in the room with me?
If I do it for their own good - could I hurt them? Could you?
There must be some loophole in the whole "love your enemy" thing right?
I mean - J-Man really didn't mean love those guys right? And the B-Man's precept against killing - that was just a guideline right?
Help me out here..especially you pragmatic "just-war" types. You know who you are.. You feel me right? That whole "Love your enemies" schtick is just librul commie hyperbole right?
After visiting a brick-and-mortar church today for its annual fair, I chanced the weather and headed up to my church for afternoon service. Today's sermon was on the last verse of the Diamond Sutra of all things:
This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world:
Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;
Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream."
So is all conditioned existence to be seen.
~ The Buddha ~ (from www.diamond-sutra.com)
Of course, the sermon was not so much spoken as performed. High wave action had carved out a five-foot cliff in the normally graceful incline of the shoreline. Just last week, none of this was there.
It's an important lesson, impermanence. It must have been for The Buddha to close one of the most famous Sutras in the Mahayana canon with it. He must have known that we'd always be forgetting it… or at least he knew I'd always be forgetting it… searching for dependability and constancy in a world that is simply not able to provide it.
It was a shock to see the sermon.
It's not what I was expecting.
It's what was needed though.
I'll tell you, once you get past the awful shocked terror of seeing that nothing in this life, not the body, not possessions, not relationships, not family, not friends, not coastlines - none of it - lasts - well.. it's quite a freeing experience. It's also a call to appreciate those phantoms, those flickering lamps that we travel this life with.
The evanescence of this conditioned existence makes it all the more poignant.