Sunday, August 26, 2007

'til death do us part

for better or worse
in sickness and in health
'til death do us part

i vow, from now to eternity,
to look past those moments of weakness
those moments when you wear me down
when your presence seems unbearable
when i wonder why i bother to stay
when i question my sanity for believing

for better or worse,
in sickness and in health,
'til death do us part

i vow, from now to eternity,
to look at your goodness
to focus on your love
to understand your compassion
to accept the blessings you offer
to seek what you truly are

for better or worse,
in sickness and in health,
'till death do us part

you will be with me, you will fill me
without your constant companionship
i couldn't exist, i couldn't continue
without you i would be nothing
i would be a shell of what i am

i vow not to take you for granted
i vow to stop, throughout the day,
to notice you, to notice your presence,
to notice your closeness, your generosity

how you wrap me in acceptance
even when i scorn you
how you envelope me with love
even when i fail to return it
how you accept me as worthy
even when i doubt that it's true

for better or worse,
in sickness and in health,
'til death do us part.
you mean everything to me.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Far Edge of Life

On the far edge of life
i camped.
In sight of all,
   but open to none.

On the far edge of life
i was.
Existing like others,
   but dead to the world.

On the far edge of life
she found me.
I don't know how,
   i'll never know why.

She came, Bo Ra did,
to the far edge of life.
   And pulled me back in,
Like the sun pulls the earth.

Her breath gave me life.
Her tears warmed my heart.
Her smile opened my eyes.
Her love gave me purpose.

She came, Bo Ra did,
to the far edge of life.
And she brought me to love.
And she brought me to life.

And she taught me to forgive.
And she taught me to believe.
And she taught me to dream.
And she taught me so well
   That there is no hope
      On that far edge of life.

She came, Bo Ra did,
to the far edge of life.
And brought me back home
to this side of life.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


How much can you love life?
   Can you look life squarely in the eyes,
   and without wavering, look deeply,
   deeper than the very bottom of its heart and soul,
   and yell I LOVE YOU!
At the top of your lungs.
As the sun climbs over the horizon,
bringing another new day filled to the brim with life,
Can you open to it?
   Can you look it squarely in the eyes,
   and without wavering, look deeply,
   seeing to the very bottom of its heart and soul,
   and yell I LOVE YOU!
Oh the wondrous joy of being alive. Accepting everything,
the intoxicating smell of the flowers,
   the inebriating sounds of the birds.
      The overpowering sight of the stars lighting my way
         to the meadow where i lay on my back watching you
in amazement.
How much can you love it?
How deeply can you open to it?


Friday, August 10, 2007

Empty Layers

Seeing to the very core of your being means letting go of everything you ever learned about who you are. You are not what you think you are. You are not who you think you are. You are. That's it. That's everything that's true. All else is one layer painted over another of what you have learned since the day you were born. One layer over another of conditioning, ideas, biases, and impressions. A new layer is added each time you let your emotions, your anger, your hatred, your grasping love, your jealousy, your pride, control you without stopping and questioning what is really going on. Each time you unquestioningly allow your thoughts and emotions to control you, instead of the other way around, you get that much farther from who you really are. Stop yourself. Investigate what's behind your thoughts and emotions. Look for those gaps between them and see the clear, bright mind in the background. See yourself as a living presence able to awaken to the beauty of everything in the universe. You are. Don't just nod your head in agreement, see it with everything in your body. Then let even that go as well and see just 'are.' Start with "You aren't who you think you are," then on your zafu get rid of "think" and then get rid of "you." Strip one layer off after another until you can manifest only "are."

You don't accomplish this by accumulating knowledge, you accomplish this by letting go and just being. As Musō Kokushi pointed out, even the simple stream is able to manifest this truth as it rolls for thousands of miles from the top of a mountain all the way down to the ocean — therefore, so can you. "The sounds of the stream splash out the Buddha's sermon. Don't say that the deepest meaning comes only from one's mouth. Day and night eighty thousand poems arise one after the other, and in fact not a single word has ever been spoken."

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

All Ears

If you want to hear the teachings spoken in a way that points directly to the truth of what the Buddha taught, it's hard to find a better way or a better place than that pointed out by two of my favorite Japanese: Musō Kokushi and Ueshiba Morihei — the first a monk and poet, and the other the founder of Aikido.

The sounds of the stream splash out the Buddha's sermon.
      Don't say that the deepest meaning comes only from one's mouth.
Day and night eighty thousand poems arise one after the other,
            and in fact not a single word has ever been spoken.

---Musō Kokushi---

Do not fail to learn
       from the pure voice of an ever-flowing mountain stream
              splashing over the rocks.

---Ueshiba Morihei---

The teachings just can't be explained any more clearly than that and every time i read these quotes i want to cry for their beauty.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

You Can't Find This On Google

You already have what you are looking for. Right here. Right now. Wherever your here and now happens to be at the instant you read this sentence. You don't need to look for it anywhere but inside yourself, at this very moment. Being on the path doesn't mean that enlightenment is out there. Somewhere else. To be attained sometime in the future, if you study hard enough, search intently enough, and meditate long enough. That's not the way it is. What you seek is already part and parcel of what you are and who you are right this very instant. It's already there, inside you, yet you can't see it simply because it is obscured, covered up, hidden from view. BUT, just because you can't see it doesn't mean it's not there. It's like clouds hiding the sun on an overcast day — just because you can't see it, doesn't mean that the sun isn't there; shining so brilliantly in the sky that it forces anyone who can get past the clouds to wear sunglasses.

Attainment doesn't mean accumulating. Attainment means letting go. It means letting go of the prejudices, preconceptions, biases, fears, etc. that cloud over your original mind. It means letting go of everything you've read, everything you've learned, everything you thought you knew about enlightenment. It means trusting yourself enough to let go of your conditioning and seeing what is already inside instead of grasping at more and more knowledge from the outside. Letting go is a frightful thing to do, though, and that is what makes the path so hard. Be brave, let go over and over again until the clouds clear and you find your life expanding until it is so full there is no room for clouds. Let go until your life expands to the point where there is no difference between you and the clouds. Then, how could they block your view?

Monday, August 6, 2007

An Unobstructed View

As the days, week, months, and years of meditating begin to add up, you will be surprised at how calm your mind will become. It is a long, slow, subtle process, and you can't really see the change as it happens, but over the course of months and years it will become obvious to you, and probably to those close to you. You become less judgmental, less extreme in your emotions, less needy, less grasping, more open, more compassionate, and happier. Some people may go through dark patches, but sooner or later it happens to all of us. This is because the delusions that normally plague our daily lives begin to weaken and fade.

Greed, anger, jealousy, pride, and all the other delusions that cloud our vision are add-ons to our original nature. They aren't an inherent part of who we are. We learn them as we are conditioned from the time of birth to see, think, and believe as the rest of society expects us to — all in the name of "fitting in." The good news, however, is that exactly because these delusions aren't part of our original nature, we can get rid of them. They aren't permanent.

Try this ... Whenever a thought or emotion arises, good or bad, stop yourself before reacting to it and ask yourself what's behind it. Not behind it as in the sense of a cause, but behind it as in "if i could erase this thought or emotion, or if i could suddenly make it transparent, what would i see behind it?" What you would find is your original Buddha nature, your original nature, your essential nature, your essential consciousness. You would find the consciousness you were born with before conditioning began to build a wall of clouds around it. As you do this more and more, you get clearer and clearer glimpses of your original nature for longer and longer periods of time, and you learn that you can control the thoughts and emotions that ravage your mind day in and day out; you can choose to react or not react to the thoughts and emotions. In other words, you will find that your thoughts and emotions lose their control over you.

And this is what the Buddhist path is all about. Everything you do on "The Path," everything you learn, everything you hear, is, in some way, pointing out the need to see through these delusions, to see the clear, unobstructed nature of your essential consciousness. Try it, you'll like what you become.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Finding The Path

Teachers are everywhere and will gladly explain every flavor and variety of Buddhism to anyone that asks. Books overflow the shelves and can be purchased, read, reread, and studied countless times. CDs of numerous teachers are for sale everywhere. There are more mp3 files available on the internet than you can listen to in years of trying. The Dharma is everywhere if you look for it.

Yet, none of this is of any more value than looking at a map and reading a guidebook before heading out on vacation. If you never leave home and spend all summer sitting at the kitchen table pouring over guidebooks and maps, you have zero chance of actually experiencing the wonder of having been where you wanted to go. The pictures may be beautiful, the stories amazing, but you can't understand the actual experience of being there without undertaking the trip on your own.

Your first step on the path isn't finding the teacher, book, CD, or mp3. That is simply getting yourself to the front door. The first step on the path is when you open the door, walk out, and close the door behind you. When you commit to making the teachings a part of your everyday life. You are on the path when you come to understand that everything the teachers, books, and cds are telling you only point to what you already have. They provide nothing other than guidance. They aren't teachers as much as mentors. They can tell you what to study and help explain difficult points, but you have to do the work yourself. They can only try to make you open your eyes and see, really, truly see, what is already inside you, what you already have. There is nothing that they can actually give you other than guidance.

The Way isn't something that you learn and know as much as it is something that you learn to be. The Buddha, like a kind old grandfather, told us exactly what we have to do in order to just be. He laid it out in an eight-fold path and said, simply, just do this, and you will wake up. It was his promise to all. And the entrance ramp to that eight-fold path is Right Meditation. Do yourself a favor — find yourself a cushion and spend a part of every day sitting on your butt. It may be the only trip you can go on without leaving the house, but, oh, the beauty you will come to see makes it worth every minute you invest.

Saturday, August 4, 2007


If it weren't for our minds, we wouldn't know that our minds our our main problems. It's ironic, in a way, but it's only because we can think that we see that our normal way of thinking is our biggest source of suffering. Everything we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch is painted over with deluded thoughts, ideologies, preconceptions, stereotypes, prejudices, etc. It is virtually impossible to see existence as it really is through that paint. But, the longer you sit in meditation, the easier it is to scrape that paint off and see true, unblemished, existence. I'm not who i think i am. You're not who you think you are. Life isn't what we think it is. I just am. You just are. Life just is. Be like that and you'll shout for joy each morning when you wake up just from the thrill of being alive.

Friday, August 3, 2007

A last breath

As i took a deep breath a minute ago, it dawned on me that that could very well have been the last breath i would ever take and, since it wasn't, obviously, i was incredibly lucky and am now living on borrowed time. How can i waste this great opportunity? Between each thought is a window into the world of life. If the universe sees you peeking through that window often enough, without your even realizing it, remodelers will come in the night and replace it with a gate. A gateless gate, as it has been called. And it opens into unconditioned consciousness, where who you are is the same as who i am, where where you are is the same as where i am, where your inhale precedes my exhale. If i'm on borrowed time, does it make sense not to pass through the gate and explore a little?