Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Poem: For Grace

I've published this one before...

She knew heaven.
           It touched and moved her,
Air around her arms,
                         earth beneath her feet.

Years passed as days might pass.
                    Clouds drifted across skies,
Sometimes cirrus wisps,
sometimes, after the great storms of summer,
Pillars of cumulus, colored in the pinks and yellows
       Of sunrise and sunset.

Some days fog wrapped her in warm humidity
And there were times of pure heat from days of sun.

There was night and the waxing and waning of moons.

She watched sparks flicker in the air and earth,
Listened to the humming movements
               of insects
                       and creatures
That chattered in unknown languages.

Leaves rustled in whispers
        that traced movements under brittle cover
     and further
Delved into the decaying detritus.

She knew these,
not by their names,
But by their innocence. There was beauty.
                     There was suffering.
Not being separate from either,
             she knew neither
In it's separate forms.
The distinctions we might hew and tender
were absent,
And her eyes tendered a calm
          no vision or wind could ripple.

She grew from the ground in a reversal of eons
   that weighted tedious.
An accumulation of sand and pebble
      and ragged shards of rock
Burned and molted back into wholeness -
              the fragments of our exiles
Reunited in cosmic glistening.

What was it that bore and birthed her
          from everlastingness?

Of us, for us, her longing
     that she could not sing the rightness of it,
The way the birds could sing,
                   picking up where they left off
After each passing storm.

So slowly, in years or moments,
she lifted that weight
and constricted her abdomen,
Breathing in and directing the shape that she was up,
first whispering,
then a hum,
And then deepening the vibration
until the hum became a note, a lullaby,
a blessing.

To rise and rising,
       first buffeted, then carried
on that great wind, ever towards us, that rose,
no longer becalmed, but at peace.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Reflections: Angels of History

You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness
Have lain too long
Facedown in ignorance,
Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.

 - Maya Angelou

Language must have evolved because of a longing to decrease our sense of separation from the rest of the Universe. When did words cease to function as what they were intended for?

Each one of us is ignorant in our own unique way. If we weren't, we wouldn't be human beings. It's good to remember even as I wish it weren't true.

Photo credit: Isolde Ohlbaum

"This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward." - Walter Benjamin 

* In honor of Martin Luther King Jr Day. It's a sunny 5oF with the wind out of the WNW at 13 mph. The photo and quote are from Carolyn Forche's book of poems: The Angel of History.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

An Early Poem and Some Thoughts

A poem I wrote sometime in the '80s:

The Illusion of Ice

Life as a lake bridging shorelines STOP
Fresh frozen notions we skate across STOP
We are on the apparent surface of August STOP

Whole cities have crumbled like this STOP

MAYDAY, MAYDAY The chopper blades can't cut it.

(Under the Pepsi-Cola sunbrella a margarita sloshes: That shaft of light is going too far, I tell you. Nothing runs that deep.)


Emptiness does run that deep as I think most folks reading this know. And that emptiness is part of reality is something I think few of us would disagree on as well.

What is reality? One possible answer is very simple: Reality is experience.

Each person's experience is different and unique. That's one reason each person's mind is the universe. Each person's perceptions of reality is going to be different.

For each of us our consciousness of our own individual reality is right. Even if that perception is deluded. Delusion is a consequence of how the mind works. It's when we try to convince others that there is a collective reality we all have to agree on that each of us becomes wrong. If people try to argue that I didn't experience what I know I did, I'm likely to disagree. The same is true for each of us.

We each bring a unique past, personality, aspirations and emotional tendencies to anything we encounter. Each of us is deluded in our own unique way. It's as true in real life as it is on the internet.

We've seen several recent tragedies in this country and around the world. These tragedies represent some of our worst nightmares and I am thankful that I have never personally experienced any of them. I can't help but feel for those who have.

Each of us is torn between wanting to help and our responsibilities to ourselves and those close to us.

Emptiness is undefined and unconditional. Unfortunately, we can neither correct our delusions or help others by solely relying on and retreating to emptiness. Delusion and the effect it has on all of our lives is not something we can cure by working only on ourselves.

I'm still planning on Internet silence on workdays for the Winter Intensive. It's about time I started working on my notes for Bussho, the next Chapter in the Shobogenzo, as well.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Life is my Own and No One Else's Business

This is not the post I've been working the last couple of days. But in a taped teisho on Sunday it was mentioned that, these days, we have access to so much information from the television and the internet that some neuroscientists have wondered whether the brain is capable of processing it all (I apologize for not knowing the source of that report at the moment). Today has been one of those days in which I've wondered if that might be a correct assessment, although I haven't actually spent that much time on-line. And the assessment may be worse than I think since much of I see these days is accompanied by information in the sidebars, which even though I don't pay attention to, may be information my brain takes in subliminally and then indirectly affects how I perceive my reality. So even though I supposedly have a choice in what information I admit into my consciousness, that's not entirely true. (I'm thankful I don't own a television or play video games on my phone which I know many people do.)

My in real life Sangha begins it's winter practice intensive at the end of January. The winter intensive is followed by a sesshin. What I've decided is that for the winter intensive I going to declare as close to internet silence as I can given my job and responsibilities (I haven't yet decided whether I will limit internet silence to workdays or also include weekends.) When sesshin ends, I hope my consciousness no longer encounters all the indirect innuendo I've been seeing. I also will be trying to decide what to do with my life, what my options are. I know I need to be around people more than I have been, the fact that I am not is part of what people, the ones who care, have been responding to.

Right now, I'm going to sit. I'm late.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Where am I now?

I've always trusted in my own goodness. Trusted in the brightness of my own light.

I've also trusted that people would see my goodness and respect it. And I know some people do see it.

Those that don't, I've always figured they would eventually. Because I keep bringing understanding and awareness to what I see here. (Though I also admit I don't have the time to investigate all that's said and my view of the blogosphere is limited.)

I have high self-esteem, though I know it may surprise some folks given the difficult times I've faced and my isolation.

For unfortunate reasons, things didn't work out the way I thought they would when I started this blog. I have brought a tremendous amount of understanding, awareness and effort to that and to the people involved.

But some people have judged me due that failure and more people have judged me on account of the behavior of those others. A bit of a negative feedback loop.

I don't enjoy it. And given the difficulties I'm facing it doesn't help. I have and can bring understanding and awareness to it rather than be judgmental.

The fact that I've tried to bring understanding and awareness to the behavior of others has been used to judge me as being loose. And that's not true.

I still trust in my own goodness. I still trust in the brightness of my own light.

I still believe in the goodness of people even though that goodness may not always manifest in the way I'd prefer it to.

In case people haven't perceived it themselves, I have to point out that I'm still cutting off more of the few ways I express myself on-line to correct for the effects that the mistakes and the mistaken views of others have had. And, for what should be obvious reasons, I find that discouraging.