heaven and hell

June 25, 2020

There’s another story that you may have read that has to do with what we call heaven and hell, life and death, good and bad. It’s a story about how those things don’t really exist except as a creation of our own minds. It goes like this: A big burly samurai comes to the wise man and says, “Tell me the nature of heaven and hell.” And the roshi looks him in the face and says: “Why should I tell a scruffy, disgusting, miserable slob like you?” The samurai starts to get purple in the face, his hair starts to stand up, but the roshi won’t stop, he keeps saying, “A miserable worm like you, do you think I should tell you anything?” Consumed by rage, the samurai draws his sword, and he’s just about to cut off the head of the roshi. Then the roshi says, “That’s hell.” The samurai, who is in fact a sensitive person, instantly gets it, that he just created his own hell; he was deep in hell. It was black and hot, filled with hatred, self-protection, anger, and resentment, so much so that he was going to kill this man. Tears fill his eyes and he starts to cry and he puts his palms together and the roshi says, “That’s heaven.”

~ Pema Chodron

The moment I realized God sits in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him – that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.

~ Swami Vivekananda

epitaph for you

January 27, 2020

He blazed out the new path for all of us and came back and made it clear. Explored the side canyons and deer trails, and investigated cliffs and thickets.

Many guides would have us travel simple, like mules in a pack train, and never leave the trail. Alan taught us to move forward like the breeze, tasting the berries, greeting the blue jays, learning and loving the whole terrain

~ Gary Snyder’s epitaph for Alan Watts

In the beginning there was ‘the One’ and it was bored out of its frickin’ mind … and so it became two, just for something to do. Yin and yang, nothingness and somethingness, space and object, tumbling eternally.

I imagine those two would have quarreled endlessly had they not become lovers and given birth to an eternal spring of impermanent forms, the “ten thousand things” (as we are known in Taoism and Buddhism).

Perhaps this ephemeral impermanence of things is a sort of truce that was made between the abyss of absolute nothingness and the possibility of something actually existing… a truce that makes it possible for everything imaginable to rise and fall, in and out of existence temporarily, throughout the boundless cosmos, for eternity.

~ Alan Watts

one bow

January 14, 2020

When you bow, there is no buddha and no you. One complete bow takes place. That is all. This is nirvana.

– Suzuki Roshi

practice

December 22, 2019

I do not have a teaching,
I have a practice.
I do not have a belief,
I have a practice.
I do not have a message or story to tell,
I have a practice.
I do not have a god,
I have a practice.
The word dissolves into silence.
The silence dissolves into action.
The action dissolves into wonder.
At dawn, be the mist in a sunbeam.
At evening, be the mountain on a cloud.

~ Fred LaMotte

icons

December 12, 2019

As I stare at the bottles of red wine we purchased almost a year ago, I‘m reminded of the day we spent in Sonoma Valley with our grown children acquiring those bottles.

At first I thought, how odd we would spend that sort of money on things we’ll likely give to others as gifts or won’t use for a very long time.

Then I realized, when you experience such a wonderful day — a day beyond imagining — a day likened to when you were a four-year-old being thrown up in the air by a loving parent or on a playground swing, experiencing the apogee and for the briefest moment being released from the surly bonds of Earth, well…you want a day like that day to last forever.

That’s when I realized the icons of those memories matter. Photos or paintings or statues or figurines or yet to be emptied bottles of wine. They all matter.

Icons matter because they remind us of what liberation feels like.

~ Scott Kinnaird

meditation

November 2, 2019

People have trouble being quiet for even five minutes.

When people sit in their first mindfulness session and experience structured silence for the first time, the intensity of their monkey-mind (ego) railing against even the *prospect* of being ignored, usually overwhelms any insight which might have been cultivated by that first practice.

But…a glimpse…a curiosity…a mental question…a wondering…experienced that first time, can push a curious seeker to the next ‘sesshin‘.

And, with practice, that five minutes can eventually expand and the silence can expand with it.

The chattering can subside and the meditator can realize they’re “watching” the chattering monkey-mind. ”They” are not the monkey.

They’re just watching it.

This is the first glimpse of Liberation. This is when we realize what’s possible.

This is when we can stop identifying with the noise in our head and identify with who we really are — an individuation of the Divine.

~ Scott Kinnaird

awake

October 1, 2019

Ten times a day something happens to me like this – some strengthening throb of amazement – some good sweet empathic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.

~ Mary Oliver

balance

September 29, 2019

As a poet I hold the most archaic values on earth . . . the fertility of the soil, the magic of animals, the power-vision in solitude, the terrifying initiation and rebirth, the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe. I try to hold both history and the wilderness in mind, that my poems may approach the true measure of things and stand against the unbalance and ignorance of our times.

~ Gary Snyder