Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Shadowboxing With Truth

how to explain 
i'm not that 
not ever 
not never 
not now 
as dreams aren't real 
outside of sleep 
wake up and see 
you're not what you think 
only the dreamer thinks 
in that silence 
behind thoughts 
lies what you are but 
look for it and 
it can't be found 
it doesn't exist 
it is not something 
it is not nothing 
you're not it 
because you're not 
even though  
i typed these words 
thought them up 
and spit them out 
for you to read 
now not 
never not 
ever not 
that not i am 
how to explain 
stop the fight 
just sit 
just be 
without expectations 
not it appears 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


It's oh so simple  
Not found anywhere but here  
No walker no trail  

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

One Too Many

It's not somewhere else  
Not some hidden mystery  
Just this right here now  
Call and it can't come  
Avoid and it will not go  
Everpresent is  
One is too many  
All is more than pure nonsense  
Yet counting is it  
I may be nothing  
Yet it manifests as me  
Doing emptiness  

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Grabbing The Bull By The Horns

I was thinking this morning about a story i posted many years ago. It went like this:

There's this story about a farmer who decides to retire and take up the spiritual life. After turning everything over to others and cutting himself free, he goes to the master at his local temple. The master tells him that to start he needs to learn to meditate and sends him off to a small meditation hut on the nearby mountain.

When he asks how to meditate, the master tells him to meditate on God. Fill his mind with nothing but God. Let go of every thought and have nothing but God in his mind. Become God. Not having a clue how to do that, but trusting his master, the farmer heads off to the hut to begin his practice.
A few weeks later the farmer comes back to the temple and tells the master that it is hopeless. No matter how hard he tries he just can not fill his mind with God. Too many other things stop him. He just doesn't see how to do it.

The master thinks for a minute and asks the farmer what thoughts keep interrupting him. To which the farmer tells him of the water buffalo that he had left on the farm when he left. The water buffalo that had been his companion and friend for more years than he can even remember. The water buffalo that had patiently listened to all of his problems and all of his happiness in life. The water buffalo that had helped him in the fields every day of the year, year in and year out. The water buffalo that had made life livable for him.

Nodding his head, the master told him that the solution to his problems is at hand. Go back to the hut, he told the farmer, and meditate on your water buffalo. Fill your mind with nothing but the buffalo, he told him. Let go of every thought and have nothing but your water buffalo in your mind. Become your water buffalo. And with that, the farmer returned to his hut to try again.

A month later, when the farmer hadn't returned, the master climbed the mountain to check on him. Arriving at the hut, he knocked on the door. No answer. He knocked again. No answer. He looked in the window and could see the farmer sitting there, on his zafu in the middle of the room so he went back to the door and knocked again. No answer.

Finally he pounded on the door and yelled, "Open the door and come out and greet your teacher!"
At which time he heard a mooing sound and then the farmer saying, "I would like to master, really, i would, but my horns won't fit through the door."

It's so easy to look at this story from the practitioners point of view. From the viewpoint of the seeker, the person desiring the truth. The person. Desiring. Truth. When that point comes in the lucky one's lives, where you realize there is more to life than what you've been led to believe, you set out in search of the path. At this point, there is still the obvious person. A person desiring. A person desiring something, even though that desire has been upgraded from more power/wealth/status to the truth.

Like the farmer, sooner or later all persistent seekers will find out that as long as there is a you, seeking, something, there will be little or no progress. In fact, you haven't found the trailhead yet. The trailhead starts where those fallacies are finally taken off and laid on the side of the trail, recognized for what they are: not only unneeded baggage, but dead weight that will eventually prohibit you from making the climb.

So the farmer found the trailhead when he found the buffalo. When awareness opened onto one mind is all dharmas and all dharmas are one mind. The farmer found the trailhead when he settled into pure, ever present, perfect awareness.

That all makes a good story, but it's not until here that the story gets interesting. Even as hard as it is, most dedicated, persistent, do-or-die practitioners will eventually learn to settle into what is and let the rest of the nonsense go. But oh how easy it must be to get stuck there; to see no reason to open the door and walk back into life. And this is the job of all good teachers.

Pointing out the door and teaching the student the technique to open it is only the very, very early part of a teachers job. Yes, it's up to the student to walk through that door (that doesn't exist), but the teacher earns his or her keep, his or her devotion, his or her respect, when they bang on the doors and windows after you've walked through and demand that the student come back out.

You see, once you're on the mountain top, once you reach those heights where everything can been seen from that one point you stand on, you have to head back down into the valley and back to town. Your efforts are wasted if you set up camp at the top and stay there. The trip was a waste of time in that case. It is imperative that you find the trail again and head back down. On the way down you can ohh and ahh about the view and how it has affected you, and you should absolutely make plans for your next trip back up, but it is the teachers job to pull out his megaphone, aim it at the skys, and demand that you come back home.

The farmers story ended here, with the teacher banging on the windows, but it would have been nice to read the next chapter. It's probably true that the buffalo's horns wouldn't fit through the door at that time, but that doesn't mean he couldn't get them out of the hut. It's here that the teacher gives instructions for the next stage of the walk --- how to keep the horns yet walk out of the hut.

What did the teacher tell the farmer as they strolled joyfully back down the trail towards the teacher's temple? I can picture the farmer complaining over and over: I can't believe you make me come back off the mountain. What about the buffalo? You told me to find it and when i did, and all was perfect, you drag me back to make rice for the other students? To sweep the floors in the temple? I don't get it?

And like Krishna, the teacher just walked along smiling to himself, as Arjuna and the farmer ranted and raved and complained and cried about the unfairness of the situation. Then, when the complaining stopped and the farmer accepted deep in his heart that the teacher knew what he's doing, the real teaching begins....

Friday, November 18, 2016


Out beyond Rumi Avenue
And the bustle and noise
There lies a field
On the other side of here and there
That one must traverse
To get back home

This dangerous field
Encourages all to rest
To stop
To evade the bustle and noise
To stay where all are safe
Except those that know

The field of being
Beckons those few
Who smell the intoxicants
Who hear the sirens
Hiding in that field
Beyond Rumi Avenue

The field of being
Promises nothing
More than everything
If you don't stop
Until you get here
On this side of Rumi Avenue

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Ram Dass, the Henro

These words from the wonderful being known as Ram Dass. From a recording i have called "Spiritual Journey."

He's talking about the internal journey, but since that's how i see the walk around the henro trail, these words speak directly to Shikoku.

"… And just as in any journey, some people have dropped along the way; said, well, i think i’ve gone far enough for this round. Others have been waiting for us to catch up.


"The journey passes through…degrees of faith. And often we only know that we have been at a certain place when we pass beyond it, because when we’re in it we don’t have the perspective to know because we are only being.


"But as the journey progresses, less and less do you need to know, the faith is strong enough so it is sufficient to be.


"It’s a journey toward simplicity. It’s a journey toward quietness. It’s a journey toward a kind of joy that is not in time. It’s a journey out of time.


"It’s a journey leaving behind every model we’ve had of who we are. It’s a journey that involves the transformation of our being such that our thinking mind becomes our servant rather than our master.


"It’s a journey that’s taken us from primary identification with our body, through identification with our psyche, ultimately to an identification with our soul, and finally with an identification with God.



"Often there has been a lot of confusion, thinking the end was reached when it was merely the first mountain peak we were looking toward, which hid all the higher mountains in the distance.


"For many of us we got so enamored with the experiences we’ve had along the way, … that we couldn’t imagine anything beyond them. But isn’t it really a good journey that at every stage of the journey you can’t imagine beyond it? So that every point you reach is so much beyond everything you’ve had until then that your perception is full of it. You can’t see anything else but the experience itself.



"At what point in the journey do you begin to suspect that your model of life is just another model?"


I love these words and have listened to the recording many, many more times than i can count.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Folly of Seeking

Someone recently asked me if i was really, as in really, finished with the henro trail. I was shocked by the question but realized later that what i've written could lead people to believe that my love of the Henro has worn off.

Not true.

As i sit here tonight and reflect on my life as a henro, on the relationship that has developed over the past 17 years between Dave and that henro who walks the streets and trails on Shikoku, i get occasional glimpses through the mist and see a bit of where i stand.

T.S. Eliot, in the Four Quartets, wrote:
    Do not let me hear
    Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,
    Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,
    Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
    The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
    Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.

In the exact same vein as Basho's extraordinarily to the point,
    Do not search for the masters of old,
    Search for what they sought.

Eliot points out that it is a futile waste of your time on the trail to look for The Daishi; where he lived, where he studied, where he was known to have visited. If you are on the henro trail as a pilgrim, as a spiritual seeker, as as an open heart accepting life as it arrives with each step, what you should be looking for are The Daishi's follies and fears.

When Kūkai dropped out of the university he was not the man he was when he died 40 years later; he was not Kōbō Daishi. As i walked the trail this past spring i often wondered about what had gone through his mind during that time on Shikoku between his university years and when he left for China.

What were his fears? Uncertainty? Failure? The unknown? He certainly had an aversion to possessions and showed unquestionable aversion to becoming just another possession of the State and to the current religions of the State.

Whatever follies showed up in his life, his wisdom must have been in his humility. His willingness to admit that he did not know. His willingness to admit that he did not have the answers. That the answers had to be found, not by seeking more information from others, but by looking inside. Deep inside. Over long periods of time.

I've come to accept that to truly understand the henro trail, one has to throw away the legends, lore, and myth that surrounds The Daishi. While it is true that he is walking with each and every henro (Dōgyō Ninin) the only way to understand what he found on the island is to live each and every moment on the trail inside his humility.

Surrender is considered a horrible word here in the West, but surrender is what needs to happen if you hope to find the same truths that The Daishi found. Inside surrender is the humility, the love, and the acceptance that pulls away the veil, that blows away the mist that separates who you think you are and who you truly are. Inside this surrender lies the peace and joy that many henro find so addicting on Shikoku.

Am i done? No. But i want to share what i've seen with others more than i want to go and look at it by myself again. So, as i wrote in an earlier post, maybe i've walked the trail for the last time as a lone henro, but i doubt that i've finished sharing the Henro with the rest of the world.