Thursday, December 31, 2009

Motivation For The New Year

My final thoughts for 2009. These point to a few of the things i hope to accomplish in the new year. In similar, yet different, ways, they both push you to look inside and ask yourself, "How far are you willing to push yourself? How far are you willing to stretch? How much are you willing to grow? How much are you willing to give in exchange for Life?"

We should be living our lives like the Queen in Lewis Carroll's Through The Looking Glass,

"I can’t believe that!" said Alice.

"Can’t you?" the Queen said in a pitying tone. "Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes."

Alice laughed. "There’s no use trying," she said. "One can’t believe impossible things."

"I daresay you haven’t had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Why Do You Run?

Internal Stillness Between Two Perceptions

Getting old doesn't scare me. Being poor doesn't scare me. The thought of dying doesn't scare me. The thought of settling for mediocrity scares the crap out of me.

Be Yourself

DHS 50/100 (Reaching Middle Age)

Fifty down, fifty more to go. Can i make the remaining 50 better than the first? That's what i'm aiming for. What better way to start a fresh year?

Spent a little time today moving some furniture out of the living room and library and upstairs to the guest room so i can have the hardwood floors sanded and restained (probably in the spring). On the wall in the guest room i saw my copy of the Desiderata, which i had completely forgotten about since i never go in that room. It's been years and years since i last thought of this, but it is a wonderful breath of fresh air.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
   and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
   be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
   and listen to others,
   even the dull and the ignorant;
   they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
   they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
   you may become vain and bitter;
   for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
   it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
   for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
   many persons strive for high ideals;
   and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
   for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
   it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
   gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
   be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
   no less than the trees and the stars;
   you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
   no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
   whatever you conceive Him to be,
   and whatever your labors and aspirations,
   in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
   it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann

Happy New Year

Just got back from my (short) run and as i log it the final numbers are in:

  • From late January to mid-March i rode my exercise bike 100 mile to start the year's cardiovascular work.

  • From mid-March to now i have run a total of 1,000 miles, with the marathon in October.

  • Between mid-October and late November i rode my regular bike 242 miles.

I'm reasonably happy with those numbers. Next years goals are to keep the exercise bike miles about the same as i soon give up trying to run on slippery, busy roads, keep the run miles about the same, and quadruple the bike miles. Of course this could all change if i go back to work or take off on the TransAm bike trip, but i'm still sitting on the fence on that one, still haven't made a decision one way or the other.

I wish all a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year. Dream big!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Jnani

DHS 48/100

Definition: Jnani

A Man of Knowledge. It may be used to mean one who follows the Jnana-marga, but in its correct meaning it is one who has attained complete Enlightenment and is established in the Absolute Knowledge which is liberation from all illusion of duality. It thus means the same as Mukta, the liberated or perfectly realized man.

So, with that definition under our belt, this story from Robert Adams' book Silence Of The Heart.

"There was once a Jnani who lived in a little shack on the mountain by himself. He was radiantly happy. He was coming back from his walk, and he saw some thieves breaking into his house. He crept up by the window to see what they would take, and of course, he owned nothing. There was just a torn blanket on the floor. So the thieves started to curse, and one said to the other, "This guy has nothing here. Let's just take the blanket and leave." So they took the blanket.

"The next day he intuitively perceived that the two robbers were caught by the police. So he hurried down to the police station to see what would happen. When the sergeant saw him he said, "Come in. Are these the men who stole from you?" And he said "Yes." So the policeman asked him, "What did they take?" And he said, "They took my hat and my shirt and my pants and my shoes." And the two thieves started screaming, "What a liar this man is. He didn't have anything. He just had a torn blanket." And the sergeant said, "Is this true?" The Jnani said, "When I put the blanket on my head it becomes my hat. When I put it around my shoulders it becomes my shirt. When I tie it around my waist it becomes my pants. And when I walk on it, it becomes my shoes." Of course the sergeant laughed and he said, "Shall I press charges?" And the Jnani said, "No." The two thieves became his disciples.

"The meaning of that story is, because you're a Jnani it doesn't mean you don't have compassion. A real Jnani has more love and compassion than anyone else. But, it's not attached to anything. And he'll be the first one to run to somebody's aid, to help somebody. It sounds like a contradiction, but it's not. For while the Jnani carries a body, the body becomes under the Jnani's jurisdiction, and becomes an instrument for good in this world. ...

"[W]hen I tell you there is no God and there is no universe, and there is no world, and there are no people, there's only Absolute Reality, do not take it too seriously. See where you're coming from. Be true to yourself. Do not fool yourself. Whatever you're into, whatever you're going through, if you sit in the Silence and practice Self-inquiry, things will begin to stir within you. Things will begin to happen. You will find that your feelings change, your reaction changes, you become less selfish, you develop loving kindness, you understand what this universe is all about. And you're at peace."

{Underlined section is my emphsis.}

Discover silence.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Trite Nonsense

DHS 47/100

While listening to some personal development mp3s this morning while outside shoveling snow, the author went from good advice to trite nonsense in the course of one chapter. Now i admit that most people probably won't agree with my "trite nonsense" claim, but it's true. Absolutely true.

Let me back up a little so you know where i'm coming from. I believe that the people who truly understand what it means to be a human being are the ones who take the time to understand that there is more to being "conscious" than simply opening your eyes each morning when it's time to get up.

This is not a subject the vast majority of people seem to think about. For those that do, this is not something that you understand in an evening in front of the Discovery Channel on TV. This is not something you understand after a weekend with the newest book by some guy/woman with the title 'Rinpoche' or 'Roshi' after their name. This is not something you understand after one week-long retreat at your favorite local spiritual center or the YMCA.

Coming to an understanding of what it means to be a conscious human being takes time — lots of time. Why? Because consciousness is ineffable at best and completely beyond understanding at worst. Yet, conscious we are, and anyone who develops a real interest in what this consciousness is, and commits to taking the time necessary to delve into a study of it, can count on years of enjoyable investigation.

On the other hand, whether we like it or not, we also have an ego: that screen between you and the world that interprets all of your perceptions through the filter of I, Me, & Mine. This ego can be a tricky thing to deal with, and most people never figure out how to do it. It is useful, absolutely; don't let anyone tell you it's not. You need it to interact with the everyday world of work, family, responsibilities, mortgages, and so on. But it's like a mischievous 2-year old who can be adorable when kept an eye on and can cause complete and utter mayhem when left to his own doing.

On the absolute level, our consciousness is what we really are, our true identity, what gives us life, what was not born and will not die. On the relative level, our ego is what differentiates us from everyone else, has been learned and incorporated into our definition of who we are, what changes from minute to minute, from one stage of life to the next, and will die when this body ceases to function.

Consciousness, what we really are, and ego, what most of us think we are, are two entirely separate things. Confusing them is like confusing your heart for your asshole — pretty hard to do when you take the time to think about it.

OK, so back to where i started. Like soooooo many other self-help gurus, today's author starts with this lame hypothesis about finding your passion in life by taking the time to figure out what you would do if you knew that today was the last day of your life. I not only don't buy that, i simply don't get it.

Understanding what you are passionate about and want to do as a profession, is all about ego. What makes you happy? What makes your heart sing? What could you do each and everyday of the year and still love going to work each day? And, it has to pay enough to support you, your family, and whatever level of life you choose to live.

I don't mean this is about "ego" in the sense of being an egomaniac, no. This is about ego because you are looking at the world through discriminatory eyes, deciding what is pleasurable and what isn't, what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong, what is worthy of my doing and what isn't. This is the world of I, Me, and Mine.

If this were your final day, however, this is the last thing you should be thinking about! No, not even the last — it shouldn't even be on your list. If you know that sometime today you will exhale for the very last time then you should be moving from the egoic level to the pure consciousness level. You should be spending your final breathing moments more with pure awareness than with that shitbag ego that has tormented you all your life.

If you get a phone call in the morning and the caller says something like...

"Sorry to bother you, but this is god and it has come to my attention that your number has just been pulled out of the hat. Can you please prepare yourself and i'll be around later this evening to pick you up. Please, and thanks for your understanding. Any questions? OK, then i'll see you later."

... then smile, call everyone that you care about, write some letters, spend the afternoon sharing stories and laughter with family and friends, and as the evening wanes sit quietly, sipping some green tea and watching who you are. Who you really are, that pure ineffable awareness. Wait patiently for the limo to show up and then simply say one last goodbye and set off on your trip.

None of that pertains to what my ego is passionate about. None of that will help me figure out how to earn a living — even though learning enough about yourself that you can actually do it on your last day without panicking will help you earn a life.

If you want to find out what you are passionate about, figure out what makes your ego tingle. Your consciousness won't give a hoot no matter what you choose, but the relative you will be as happy as that proverbial pig. However, this is NOT where you should be on your last day so don't mix your metaphors and confuse the issues of living and making a living.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

UCLA Squirrels

A short story of friendship, mentorship, perseverance, and the kind help of strangers.

You gotta' love it. :-)

DHS 46/100

It all comes down to this?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Comfortless Success

DHS 45/100

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."

Neale Donald Walsch

Or, as T.S. Eliot said (in case i haven't pointed this out for a few days): "Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go."

However, ...
"Success, like happiness, cannot be pursued. It must ensue. And it only does so as the unintended side of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself."

Viktor Frankl

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Hope all had or are having a very Merry Christmas, no matter the tradition with which you celebrate it.

May all be free of greed.
May all be free of anger.
May all be free of ignorance.
May all be free of suffering.
May all your days be filled with compassion and happiness.

DHS 44/100

Thursday, December 24, 2009

DHS 43/100

Listen, and no sign of it.
Seek, and you get lost.
Sit, no more,
Willing, but
Waiting for nothing.
It doesn't appear.
You never see.
Only then,

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Put Up Or Shut Up

I just saw that a remake of the old "Karate Kid" movie is being released and that the teacher will be played by Jackie Chan.

Remember Jackie Chan? The guy who recently said, in public and for the record, that he believes that the Chinese government is right to control the people of China. That they are better off being controlled. That too much democracy is not a good thing. Of course he says this AFTER he makes his millions of dollars in the free world with his movies.

If you are one of those who believes that communism is not the way to govern a country, that people do not need controlling, especially in the ways that the Chinese do it, that Jackie Chan is wrong, then now is the time to PUT UP OR SHUT UP. If you pay to see this movie, you are supporting Jackie. If you pay to see this movie, or even watch it for free, you have no right to ever say you disagree with Jackie. Period.

I implore all who do not accept his comments to join me in boycotting his movies. Do not pay to see them. Do not see them. Do not talk about them. Let him know through our inaction that he has no clue what he is talking about. Show some support for the people of China — boycott Jackie Chan's movies, starting with this one!

Unfinished Business

DHS 42/100

It was raining and the roads were icy when i ran today, so i decided to call it quits after 2 miles. Problem is, that left me with an unfinished Road Kill. The first 2/3 popped up on the way out to mile 1, but my mind got occupied with the argument on whether to turn around there and go back home or to gut it out and continue. I decided to turn it into a short 2 mile tempo run and go home, but the argument cut off the last line of the Road Kill. I wonder now how it would have ended had i stayed out for the 4 miles i had planned.....

Road Kill 7 (Unfinished)
It's true, you might say.
Show me proof, i might reply.

As an aside, i am 13 miles short of running 1,000 miles this year. It should be easy to get that in before the 31st, but according to the weather forecast it is supposed to rain through the rest of the week. I'm not giving up, though. Even if i have to run long a few times next week, in the snow, around and around one single block because the roads are snowed in, i fully intend to log that 13 miles. I've only run 1,000 miles in a year once before, in 2004.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Love The Blue Sky, Fear The Weeds

I have a lot of videos from Zen Mountain Monastery (ZMM) on my shelves and i regularly pull one at random off the shelf for my morning Wake Up Call. This morning i happened to pull the one called The Stone Lion, in which Daido Loori starts by reading from a chapter in their Koans Of The Way Of Reality,

Confined in a cage, up against a wall, pressed against barriers, if you linger in thought, holding back your potential, you will remain mired in fear and frozen in inaction. If, on the other hand, you advance fearlessly, and without hesitation, you manifest your power as a confident adept of the Way. Passing through entanglements and penetrating barriers without hindrance, the time and season of great peace is attained. How do you advance fearlessly and without hesitation? Listen to the following.

The National Teacher Daizhang and the Emperor Suzang arrived at the front gate of the imperial palace. The National Teacher pointed to a stone lion and said, "Your Majesty, this lion is so very, very rare, give me a single turning phrase about it." The emperor said, "The emperor can't give a phrase. Please, will the master give one." The National Teacher replied, "Oh, this is the mountain monk's fault." Later Jinyeng of Danhuang asked the National Teacher, "Did the emperor understand?" The National Teacher said, "Let's put aside whether he understood or not, how do you understand it?"

Each crisis an opportunity.
Yet if you fail to act, you miss it by a thousand miles.
The cave of the blue dragon is ominous, only the fearless dare to enter.
It is here that the forest of patterns are clearly revealed, the myriad of forms evident
It is here that the one bright pearl is hidden

Francis Lucille said it the other day (in Eternity Now), you have to accept the invitation to eternity, and surrender completely. Don't analyze it, don't think about it, don't try and figure it out, don't try and anticipate what it will be like, just surrender and acknowledge the eternity that you are. Surrender the limited view of your life for the unlimited potential that you really are.

And he is blunt when he answers questions about the fear we can get mired in,

One of the reasons I postpone making myself available to the invitation is that I fear my life will be radically changed.

     Oh, yes. It will be.

My family, as well?

     Your family, too. Everything will be changed.

I am afraid that people will leave me.

     I can assure you that you will regret nothing.

Surrender takes place in only one place — that silent gap between your thoughts. After sitting long enough you find that path through the barriers and hindrances we've built up over the years, leading to that silence, and in that silence you'll hear the invitation. At that point, all that's required is to "advance fearlessly and without hesitation." Advance. Going nowhere. Yet arriving everywhere; at eternity.

Our fear (or, at least my fear) is caused by resistance to the truth, and by a lack of clarity, or a misunderstanding, of it. But if you face the fear and stay on the path, we have been assured there will come a point where you can no longer turn back. Again, Francis,

When our desire for the absolute overcomes our fear of death, we offer the pretense of our personal existence to the sacrificial fire of infinite consciousness. Henceforth, nothing stands in the way of awakening any longer and it progressively unfolds its splendor on all the planes of phenomenal existence, which, little by little, reveal their underlying non-temporal reality, like the gaze of Shams of Tabriz that, "was never cast upon some fleeting object without rendering it eternal."

"This is the mountain monk's fault." This is 'my' fault. OK, so what's new? Everything is 'my' fault. Everything is of me. Or, everything is of the awareness that is me, you, and everyone else. I have no choice but to accept responsibility for it all. Most people understand that they have to take responsibility for their actions. How many realize that they also must take responsibility for their perceptions?

We are not limited by reality as it is, but by reality as we perceive it, as we believe it to be. As Nisargadatta says in I Am That, "As long as one is burdened with a person, one is exposed to its idiosyncrasies and habits."

And he goes on to say,

"What is normal? Is your life... obsessed by desires and fears, full of strife and struggle, meaningless and joyless... normal? To be acutely conscious of your body, is it normal? To be torn by feelings, tortured by thoughts, is it normal? A healthy body, a healthy mind live largely unperceived by their owner: only occasionally, through pain or suffering they call for attention and insight. Why not extend the same to the entire personal life? One can function rightly, responding well and fully to whatever happens, without having to bring it into the focus of awareness. When self-control becomes second nature, awareness shifts its focus to deeper levels of existence and action.

"Once you realize that the person is merely a shadow of the reality. but not reality itself, you cease to fret and worry. You agree to be guided from within and life becomes a journey into the unknown."

"Each crisis an opportunity.
Yet if you fail to act, you miss it by a thousand miles."

So in order to live up to our potential, we must work fearlessly and without hesitation to realize that each and every crisis in our lives is an opportunity, and work constantly to expand our level of awareness and our perception of reality.

Under the full moon
Roosters, snakes, and pigs, all seen
Examine the weeds

DHS 41/100

Monday, December 21, 2009

Trading Coal For Diamonds

"If you want to take control of your life, it's important that you gain a basic understanding of who you are. Our self-image, which is the picture of ourselves that we hold in our minds, becomes the key to our lives. All our actions, feelings and behavior, and even our abilities, are consistent with this formed picture. We literally act out the kind of person that we think that we are. What we need to be aware of is that as long as we hold onto that picture, no amount of willpower, effort, determination or commitment will cause us to be any other way, because we're always going to act the way we see ourselves. To be any other way, we must first look at how we form our self-image.

"In a very important way, you've created yourself whether you realize it or not. All the character traits, mannerisms, ways of talking, ways of walking, facial expressions, gestures and even ways of thinking and believing, you have borrowed, imitated or made your own. It may have been from a parent or other family members, a favorite teacher, a friend, or a character in a book or a movie.

"It's not a disaster to discover that you're not the person that you thought that you were. On the contrary, it's the beginning of the end of disaster.

"Remember — everything you learn about yourself is good news. No matter how difficult or surprising it may be, it's always good news. Keep this in mind, especially in times when a new truth clashes with a belief that you know you must abandon but are reluctant to do so. A wise person is willing to give up a piece of coal in exchange for a diamond. Have the courage to do this and self-change begins.

"The problem is that whatever self-image we have accepted puts a ceiling on the use of our potential. That ceiling has no relationship to our ability to use our potential. But we can only act or perform like the person we see ourselves to be. We must deliberately take control of our self-talk, or it will control us. ... Until we change the picture we have of ourselves, we will automatically continue to reenact the same performance. Our self-image regulates the use of our potential.

"The real key here is in not trying to be different from your picture. Modify the picture first. Real growth and change begins from the inside out. We must first change the picture in our mind. As we do this, our comfort zone will expand automatically. This becomes our new truth. We then act in accordance with that new truth or belief.

"We will either stay where we are or, through our own deliberate intent, convince ourselves that it’s in our best interest to change. If we choose to change, we must visualize ourselves into that new belief. Constructive self-talk and imagery takes the ceiling off the use of our preconceived abilities and allows us to grow in a controlled manner without stress, tension and negative feedback.

"Because we move toward what we picture, it is important to control what we are picturing. The goal must be clearly and specifically defined. What are we after? What does it look like? If you cannot describe it, you cannot get it.

"Once I recognize I am a self-made person both in success and failure and that this success or failure is mine to control, I will stop saying "I have to," and instead say "I choose to." I can be as my image tells me I can and move constructively toward that end result with an exciting, magnetic energy and drive."

Robert Anthony
Beyond Positive Thinking

(Underlines are my emphasis)

Or, as Robin Sharma says in his book The Greatness Guide, "The size of your life is a reflection of the size of your thinking!"

DHS 40/100

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Big Question

DHS 39/100

"Big question... Are you reading the books that are going to take you where you want to go in the next 5 years?

"Excellent question. See, you want to make sure. I would assume for all of you, to get to where you want to be in the next 5 years, you are either reading the right books or you're not. You're either engaged in the disciplines or you're not. But, here's what we don't want to engage in: disillusion. Hoping without acting. Wishing without doing.

"The key is to take a look and say 'Where am I? What could I do to make the changes to make sure that I can take more certain daily steps towards the treasures I want, the mental treasure, the personal treasure, the spiritual treasure, the financial treasure? I don't want to make any more errors, now's the time to adjust my daily program to take me where I want to go.

"But the key is to start right now making these changes to walk this new road. And here's what's exciting to me, just a few daily disciplines makes a great deal of difference in one year, three years, five years. And before you know it, you will be walking a brand new road."

Jim Rohn
From his Take Charge Of Your Life CDs

So, i spend part of a Sunday asking myself, am i reading the right books? Subject, quality, and quantity? And, am i acting on them? As much as i can? Am i? Really? What about the rest of you?

I read of a great new way to look at this — and to build a small bonfire under my butt at the same time.

I'm 56. Let's assume i live another 20 years. My mother died in her young 70s and my father in his young 40s, so 20 years could be about right. Lets say that i don't see any hurry so i commit to reading 1 new book a month for the rest of my life. That's 12 books a year and 240 books between now and when i'm done reading in this life.

Out of all the books in the world, all the books that have ever been printed and all the books that will be printed over the next 20 years, i can only read 240 of them. That's it. 240. That's a minuscule drop in the bucket. That's nothing. How could i possibly chose which 240 books to read out of all the books available? Obviously that commitment isn't good enough.

Or, if i commit to learn one new "something" each year, i have to choose 20 out of everything i could possible learn. 20 subjects. No more. Or, only 20 more annual vacations. Out of all the places in the world worth visiting, which 20 do i choose? Or, only 20 more Christmas's?

So, as Jim Rohn said, "The key is to start right now making these changes to walk this new road. And here's what's exciting to me, just a few daily disciplines makes a great deal of difference in one year, three years, five years. And before you know it, you will be walking a brand new road."

Saturday, December 19, 2009


"A[ny] practice that comes out of the idea of being a physical or mental being can’t be called spiritual. It is a process of acquisition that takes you away from the real. What you really are can’t be acquired because you already are it. The ego is impermanent. It is a repetitive thought associated with emotions, body sensations, and reactions. When you are moved by the beauty of a piece of music, by the splendor of a sunset, or by the delicacy of an act of love, the ego leaves you. In that moment you are open and complete. If you try to improve your ego by practicing various disciplines, like a collector incessantly increasing the value of his collection with new and more sublime acquisitions, you will become more and more attached to it, and end up dissatisfied and living in isolation.

"The true master isn’t a person. It is our Self, the Self of all beings. Surrender to it, love only it, be interested in nothing but it.

"When you are invited..., you should surrender completely. Don’t try to know where you are in all of this. Don’t try to control the situation. It can’t be done. Even the first thought that takes note of this experience is already too much. It prevents a complete letting go. It is not enough to receive the royal invitation; you still have to go to the palace and taste the banquet that is your destiny. The truth-seeker in you is continuously involved in controlling your thoughts, feelings, and actions. At a certain point, even he will disappear, since he is only a concept, a thought. He isn’t you. You are that freedom, that immensity in which the seeker appears and disappears. You are what you are looking for, or, more precisely, that immensity looks for itself in you. Abandon yourself to it without reservation."

Francis Lucille
Eternity Now

{My emphasis where bolded}

DHS 38/100
(Tried a new brand of paper. It was a little thinner and much more absorbent and will require a lighter hand. I think i'll go back to the old brand until i finish these DHS.)

Saw this on the blog at the great website and couldn't help but find it at YouTube and post a copy here. They called it The Meaning Of Life:

Wonderful! Beautiful!

Friday, December 18, 2009


I am nearer to you than yourself to yourself.


I like that. A lot. It's short, to the point, and trickier than it appears. Every time i read it i'm brought to a stop. Reading it is like driving over a speed bump, the words flow seamlessly through the mind until that period shows up, at which time i smile and say to myself, "Whoa, slow down fella, it's bumpier here than it looks."

Why? Just by virtue of reading that sentence, there is dualism involved. "I'm" reading "it." I'm in here and it's out there. I'm out here, in my chair, and the words are in there, in the monitor. Plus, my brain feels compelled to comment every time that we all know there is no separation, that I and You are not separate, just like yourself and yourself aren't separate. But this again just points out the duality involved. Something feels compelled to point out the discrepancy, meaning that there is that something and that discrepancy. Separation. Duality. Nonsense. Again. Still.

With this very short sentence, Rumi is rubbing our noses in our intellectuality, because that's probably how most of us react to it. We intellectualize our understanding of it's truth. We wonder what it means to be nearer to you than yourself to yourself. We formulate answers. We come up with metaphors. We end up with paragraphs, pages, and books pointing out how true the words are.

Is that what Rumi wanted? Is that the reaction he would have hoped for? As long as there is I and You, there is no nearness. As long as there is Yourself, there is no nearness. As long as there is Nearness, there is no nearness. If nearness exists, you miss Rumi's point. As soon as you agree with him, you show your ignorance. I take exception to every word in the sentence, and wish he had simply said.



(Then again, that first try could have just been a mis-translation and this is what he really said.)

DHS 37/100

Forgetting Garbage

It's 12:24am on Friday, and i just realized i forgot to upload yesterday's DHS. Maybe subconsciously i just didn't want to do it because this one was so bad i considered throwing it away — except i didn't want to write it again because i wanted to go upstairs and read. So, even though this shows as having been uploaded on Friday, it was written on Thursday; around 7:00 pm.

DHS 36/100

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


DHS 35/100

No light in the gap.
Pitch black, nothing can be seen.
Free at last to be.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sometimes A Man

DHS 33/100

Sometimes A Man Stands Up During Supper

Sometimes a man stands up during supper
and walks outdoors, and keeps on walking,
because of a church that stands somewhere in the East.

And his children say blessings on him as if he were dead.

And another man, who remains inside his own house,
dies there, inside the dishes and in the glasses,
so that his children have to go far out into the world
toward that same church, which he forgot.

Rainer Maria Rilke
Translated by Robert Bly

I'm still plagued by this thing. It just won't let go.

For the longest time, i assumed that this was about the man, that it was a lesson in what the man is doing with his life. Today i wondered if i have it backwards and it is really all about the kids.

Sometimes a man sees something, something about reality, or reality itself. Sees something so clearly and so intimately that questions that had never before occurred to him now are so compellingly important that he stops what he is doing, gets up, and goes out to find someone who can help him find the answers.

The great doubt has taken over his life. There is no longer any time to waste, and that's exactly what he would be doing with his life if he didn't stop mid-stride, change directions, and go out. There is a fire burning in his belly. A roaring fire. One that can't be put out with another book, another CD, or another hour on his zafu. His life is on fire. His entire being is burning to the ground.

So he sets off, asks a question here and there, keeps walking, asks again, keeps walking, asks again, keeps walking, asks again, and keeps this up, single-mindedly searching for that one teacher who can give him the answer that will quench the fire.

For all intents and purposes, his children no longer exist. His life has been consumed by his question and his search for an answer. For all intents and purposes, his children can consider that he has died as he seems to have gone forever.

Yet, as good as this situation sounds for one side, and as bad as it sounds for the other, no one has gained anything with this charade. The man is looking for someone to give him the answer, he's not looking for the answer itself. The man is still there, separate from the question and separate from the answer. And the kids have blindly let him go, not ever sitting down and wondering what could be so important to the man that he was willing to sacrifice everything, even his most precious children. Instead of wondering about the question themselves, they simply wrote the man off, let him go, let his question go, and considered him dead.

On the other side of town, another man had the same realization. Had the same glimpse of reality. But his went just a little deeper. Just a little further into that silence. Just a little more into that reality that exists in that space you can crawl into when you crawl through a gap between your thoughts and into eternity.

And because he crawled there under his own power, he saw that the answer to his question was there, in that eternity. In himself. In everything. In that place where everything was himself. In that place where he was everything. In that place where there is no "he" or "everything." In that place between two thoughts.

He knew he didn't need another teacher. He knew that no teacher could provide the answer. No teacher could provide anything. He had the innate ability himself to find it. To see it. To be it. So he stayed at home. With his kids. Doing what he always did, but with a new focus.

The old "him" died right there in the house. The old "him" was no longer to be found. The beliefs, biases, ideologies, religions, etc. that had defined him up to this point were let go. He was no longer becoming something, he had simply settled for being something. Being himself. Being alive. Being here. Being here, while continuing to live what appeared to be a normal life — including washing the dishes. But unlike before, it was no longer "he" who washed the dishes; now, the dishes were simply being washed. No more, no less. The laundry was simply being done. No more, no less. The yard was simply being mowed. No more, no less.

There was no longer someone in the East who had the answers. There was no longer someone in the East who shared the question. There was no longer a question. Or answer. There was just this place, easy to find, just inside that gap between two thoughts, where the questions and answers didn't matter. Where the questions and answers didn't even exist. And over time this space started to spill out from the gap and appear in his daily life.

This didn't go unnoticed by the kids. They began to wonder what was going on. He was the same as always, yet he was different. He filled his days with the same routines as he always had, yet he was different. He still talked the same, still interacted with everyone the same, still had the same hobbies, yet he was different.

But he wouldn't give them answers when they asked him about the question. He knew that no one can give you the answer to the question. He knew that they would have to find it themselves; in themselves. In fact, to the kids, he seemed to have forgotten all about the masters in the East that he had so often talked about as he read his books previously. How? Why? What's going on? They wondered. And this lead them to look for those masters themselves, simply so they could find that question that had led the man to where he was now. If it was that effective a question, maybe it would serve them well if they knew what it was too.

And the man patiently waited for them....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

DHS 32/100

I myself am my only obstacle to perfection.

While I have promised to liberate beings throughout space in the ten directions from their mental afflictions, I have not liberated even myself from the mental afflictions.

Without knowing my own limitations, I spoke at that time as if I were a bit insane. Therefore, I shall never turn back from vanquishing mental afflictions.

I shall be tenacious in this matter; and fixed on revenge, I shall wage war, except against those mental afflictions that are related to the elimination of mental afflictions.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


DHS 31/100

It seems that there's a problem with spending an afternoon sitting around watching personal development videos and drinking. Actually, two problems. First is i forgot my DHS, until just a little while ago, and then hurried through it as i wrote it, which resulted in a dropped character somewhere. Plus, hurrying through it defeats the purpose of doing it in the first place.

In addition, the speaker's words are much harder to avoid and ignore when you've had too much to drink and your natural mental defenses are blurry. In the video i was just watching, i got beat up by these words:

"Blaming others is nothing more than excusing yourself. Every time you say 'It's because of ...' " blah, blah, blah, "... Every time you blame someone else you are actually giving away your highest human freedom and your power to that person or that circumstance because ... ultimately you're saying 'For me to get great they need to change' — and they're not going to change.

"So, for everything that's not working in your life, ask a fundamentally life changing question — what thinking and what behaviors have i engaged in that have created this result in my life."

Actually i wouldn't say i got beaten up, it was a vicious street mugging. Shit, shit, shit, and more shit. Those words hurt. Miserably. I will probably be black and blue tomorrow morning; unless i'm lucky and just don't remember them. Which i hope, since i just can not for the life of me figure out how to answer it.

But, the good news is my order for more ink cartridges for my calligraphy pen/brush arrived from Japan in today's mail. Yippppeee! I should really shift back to a standard brush and ink because that should be cheaper than buying these cartridges for my brush pen. Maybe. 5 cartridges costs ¥210 and the one i just used lasted for twenty copies of the Heart Sutra. Plus shipping, of course. I bought 25 cartridges and paid ¥1,000 for shipping, which means each cartridge cost me ¥ 82.

(Being typical Japanese, though, the people that i buy them from, at the link above, give me more than i pay for. They charged me ¥1,000 for shipping, even though i can see on the envelope that they paid ¥1,200; and they enclosed at no cost another ~¥300, one-time, non-refillable, practice brush as settai.)

I have a very old bottle of ink (a decade old?) sitting in the closet. I should get that and a brush out someday and see if they are still any good. Or, maybe i should say, to see if i am still any good with it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Doghouse

As Christmas approaches and people are considering the gifts they are going to buy, i couldn't help but post this video to help those men who aren't yet certain what they should buy for their significant others.

In The Doghouse

Turning Thirty

DHS 30/100

Haven't been in a writing mood lately. Maybe in a few days.....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

DHS 29/100

Kanjizai Bosa
So many arms, hands, and eyes
Six billion plus

Monday, December 7, 2009

DHS 26/100

DHS 26/100
(Ink cartridge almost completely empty; will have to change tonight)

Behold Your Life Day 6: Remember those first few days and weeks.
So small, so vulnerable, dependent on everyone else for even the smallest of things. Unable to accomplish anything without other people's help yet blissfully unaware of the fact. Ignorant of what really matters in life yet full of potential, so incredibly full of potential. Unused and untapped. So easily hurt, yet unable to say anything. Alive yet unable to appreciate how truly magnificent a gift that is. And that's just the parents, think how fragile the newborn is....

Crying so softly
Not me yet from and through me
Shakuhachi breath

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Welcome Back

DHS 25/100

Alive but not born
Small changes in perspective
Winter seeds and spring

Behold Your Life Day 5: Birth
Today's the day. After nine months of rest and growth you are called to make your entry. Dragged out of the house by strangers, no one is happy until you are crying, at which point you are introduced to someone you know, someone who calms you simply with her presence, someone who exudes love from every pore. Happiness pervades the atmosphere, you can feel it in every pore of your body even though you can't name it or even know what it is.

The first step on your pilgrimage has been taken. You have arrived at the trail head. For some the walk will be long, for others not so. For some it will be easy and enjoyable, for others less so. For some it will be a constant struggle. For all, it will be a never ending series of lessons learned, absorbed, discarded, and forgotten. Lessons sought out, lessons offered, and lessons forced. Life will be both a strict disciplinarian and a loving nanny. Two-faced, two-sided, she will wear the mask required for the lesson on the table.

If only we could have stuffed some of the wisdom we had acquired in our past lives into our pocket before making the journey. If only we could have scribbled some notes and mailed them to ourselves at our new address. If only we could have asked to see the rules sheet before agreeing to come. If only we could have extracted promises of love, acceptance, and health before agreeing to leave the house. If only... if only...

But, we're here. The walk has begun. For now, just breath. In, out, in, out,... Awareness. Light. Dark. Shadows. Movement. Noise. Not yet sound, just noise. Smells. Ah, that's what my mother smells like. Warmth. Comforting contact. Aware. Breath.

This will all change soon. Before long, someone will appear. Before i can blink an eye, I will raise his nasty head, and who will help me fight him off? But for now, just breath. Acceptance. Aware. Alive, but not born.

Desire itself is movement
Not in itself desirable;
Love is itself unmoving,
Only the cause and end of movement,
Timeless, and undesiring
Except in the aspect of time
Caught in the form of limitation
Between un-being and being.
Sudden in a shaft of sunlight
Even while the dust moves
There rises the hidden laughter
Of children in the foliage
Quick now, here, now, always-
Ridiculous the waste sad time
Stretching before and after.

T.S. Eliot
Four Quartets: Burnt Norton V

But as he has pointed out earlier,

[T]he end precedes the beginning,
And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now.

T.S. Eliot
Four Quartets: Burnt Norton V

Soon you will have to learn of this sad thing called time, stretching before and after. For now simply Be. Here. Now.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

In The Womb

DHS 24/100

Behold Your Life Day 4: In the womb. The pilgrimage of life starts tomorrow, i assume. Until then we rest, grow stronger, and nourish ourselves for 9 months in the comfort and security of our mother's womb. It's too easy to overlook the gifts our mothers gave every day of this period. In most cases, this may be one of the happiest periods of her life, but even in the most unwanted of pregnancies she protects you with her life, she feeds you with her own body, she sacrifices food, sleep, health, her mobility, her hobbies, possibly her career, and much, much more for one sole purpose — to nurture and protect your life and to safely bring you into the world.

During this 9 months she probably talked to you. Often. When other people were around and in secret, when no other ears were around. She probably told you her secrets, told you of her daily life, told you of her hopes and dreams for herself and for you, told you of the mysteries of her world. And what did she ask in return for these stories? Only that you show your face at the end of the 9 months and add another life to the world.

So, during this 9 months, rest, listen to your mother's stories, and allow your body to grow and get stronger. While there may be no subject/object duality during this period, know that the circus will start the second you pass through the gate into the world your parents inhabit. Your mind is starting at zero — empty of knowledge and empty of wisdom. The battle is just beginning.

Book Review: Neon Pilgrim

I've just finished reading Neon Pilgrim, Lisa Dempster's new book about her summer 2009 walk around Shikoku's henro trail. While i found it a very interesting read, i have to admit that it was a struggle and took me a month to work my way through it.

First off, let me say that while i am somewhat critical, i still highly recommend it to anyone contemplating walking the henro trail. If you are planning to walk during the summer, and/or planning to camp out as you make your way around the island, this is a must read, along with Craig McLachlan's Tales of a Summer Henro.

Lisa is up front right from the very beginning: she begins her walk as an overweight, unemployed, and seriously depressed henro. Her purpose is to get fit, both physically and mentally, in an attempt to get herself out of the hell hole that depression has left her in. As she said:

"I hoped the henro michi would work magic on me, get me into better shape physically, yes, but also whip my mind into mental shape. I was desperately sad about my situation and wanted to make things better. But I was unsure about how. I guess that's why I was walking. I wanted to work it all out."

Her honesty helps because it goes a long way to explaining her attitude and behavior as she walks the trail. At least it helped me.

Purely from a writing point of view, i found the book well written. Lisa's adventures and experiences were nicely woven into a story that flowed smoothly from the first chapter to the last, and which pulled me along, always wondering what would happen next. She does a very good job of describing the characters she meets and interacts with along the trail.

That said, though, i did have several problems with the book and those were the reason it took so long to get through it. While it flowed nicely, there were times that i was frustrated enough with what she had to say that i just had to put the book down for a while — usually for several days.

I don't know Lisa, so don't know what her personality is like. Judging by the book, though, it seems that she likes to shock people. Every now and then in the book, she'd say something that would completely puzzle me. One example of that is the following:

"Kamo-no-yu is a tiny local bathhouse — two pools inside and one out — and that afternoon it was packed with little old ladies who stared openly as I sat on a low stool and scrubbed the grime from my body. One of them got the courage to come and talk to me, which left me in a quandary: keep washing my vagina or stop and chat?..."

From my point of view, these bits added no value to the story; they didn't help explain the characters she was meeting, didn't help to explain her experiences, and didn't help explaining how she was viewing her experiences. I could only interpret them as having been intentionally added to "spice up" the book, which for me didn't work.

Another problem i had with the book was that Lisa seemed to go out of her way to find the worst in almost every situation. She seemed to go out of her way to complain and criticize throughout the book. Occasionally she would make a point of looking at the beautiful side of the walk, but then shatter that in an instant, like this example:

"I was walking in a hazy pre-dawn light. As the day brightened a verdant dark green valley was revealed, with misty mountains rising up all around. The scenery was magic and it enchanted me.

I was also busting for a piss, ..."

Yes, for some strange reason, throughout the book she seems compelled to tell us every time she needed to take a piss, and occasionally, i guess because it was important to her at the moment, when she needed to take a shit. To give her credit, though, Lisa did a very good job of showing just how much and how often settai was offered to her throughout her walk.

Lisa undoubtedly had a difficult time on the henro trail, both physically and mentally; that's obvious from page 1 to page 236. Having said that though, i did get the impression that she had changed by the time her walk had come to an end, that she had grown and was slightly better off after having endured throughout the entire walk. In the later chapters she seemed mellower, more open to the world, more accepting of other people. Is it true or am i just reading that into the story because i want to believe it had that effect on her. I'm not sure.

As i said at the beginning, i do recommend the book. It is a great introduction to camping out and having to look for somewhere outside to sleep each night. It is also a great look at how fellow henro band easily into a sort of family while on the trail. If nothing else, this certainly paints a good picture of what it is like to walk the henro trail in the heat and humidity of Shikoku's summer.

Read it and make up your own minds. Maybe my reaction to the book was because our personalities are completely different. I don't know. In any case, i think all will enjoy the read.

Happy reading.

Related post: Imperfect Pilgrimage

Friday, December 4, 2009


DHS 23/100

Day 3 Behold Your Life: Honor the moment of your conception. Honor your parents for giving you the gift of life.

When i think back to the time of conception, my brain freezes on one simple question: How could i have failed at life so badly given the unlimited potential i started with? That's not part of today's reflection so i'll stop there, but it's taking a lot of effort to skip the issue and go back to the beginning.

It's was a miraculous moment. I always find it amazing to contemplate that instant when conception happened; i do often. It comes from that simple question, Who am i? What am i? My life started right then. Before that instant, Lao Bendan wasn't. From that instant, Lao Bendan is. What other definition of 'miraculous' do you need?

At that wonderful moment of conception, that instant when the spark of life triggers this new being called you, there are no limits on who or what you can be. At that instant you are 100% pure potential. (The same at the moment of death, but that's another story for later.)

However, after that first instant it is a downhill ride. From that one moment, conditions, circumstances, and society conspire to limit your life, your thoughts, your hopes, your dreams, who you are, and who you can be, even before you are actually born. But, for that one instant, there are no limits. None.

I was lucky; conceived by parents of a middle-class, white, educated, suburban family in the US. That gave me countless unearned priveleges that billions of people around the world will never get. That meant i didn't have to face hardships and challenges that billions of people next door and around the world have to face day in and day out. Why was i so lucky? That's part of the miracle.

Does that make my life more valuable than one born in exactly opposite circumstances? Absolutely not — a life is a life. But for reasons that can't be known i was born when and where i was and i am eternally grateful to my parents for giving me this gift of life, and for fostering it so carefully until i was capable of screwing it up on my own.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Admit it, you have no idea!

DHS 22/100

Today's Behold Your Life: This day takes place before you were in the womb. Where were you before you were conceived in the womb? On the day before your conception, who are you? what are you? where are you?

Nope. Can't answer any of those questions. Sorry. Lots of ideas, lots of suppositions, lots of guesses, but zero "Truth." Not here.

I know i don't believe that at the moment a sperm fertilizes an egg, some God looks down, waves his hand in the shape of a cross, recites the appropriate "domini, domino, abracadabra, kalamazoo," and POOF, there's life. It's just as likely that an alien Thetan smiles, farts, and POOF, there's life.

I know i do believe that when I die, i don't disappear. I do believe in reincarnation/rebirth, but any guess as to what that entails is just that — a guess, a black box theory. We know something happens inside, but no one knows what, exactly.

Where was i? No idea. Who was i? No idea. What was i? No idea. My job is simply to figure out what i am during this lifetime. I'll save the certainties about pre-conception until i get there. Hey, you gotta save something to study later, don't you?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


DHS 21/100

The theme of day one's Behold Your Life was Beginnings and Mother Earth: Embrace your beginnings. Remember the truth that you came from the earth and shall return to the earth. Embrce your memories of the earth. Where are your sacred places on the earth? Revisit those places in your mind.

Whenever i think about "beginnings," i will always think of one of my favorite quotes, from the novel The Warlords.

Whoever or whatever it is that gives such things, gives us our essence at birth.
The design of this essence then starts to unfold.
To watch it unfold is to live.
To watch it with confidence and good humor is to follow the Way.

Everyone needs to decide who that "Whoever or Whatever" is for themselves, but we are all on the same page when it comes to the fact that whatever answer you come up with we all have something, from somewhere, that gives us life; something that rocks don't have. That "essence" enlivens us. That "essence" is functioning 24x7x365. That "essence" was a gift, yet all too many people, unfortunately, take it for granted, abuse it, and make no attempt to understand it.

I agree with Macrina when she says that the earth is sacred. According to my Websters, one of the definitions of sacred is: "Secured as by a religious feeling or sense of justice against any defamation, violation, or intrusion; inviolate."

It seems like complete common sense to me that we must treat the earth as nothing less than sacred. There is only one. There is no reset button. There is no "I didn't mean it; i'm really sorry; i take it back." If we screw up this planet we screw up our life support. If absolutely pressed into a corner, anyone and everyone, from the most liberal to the most conservative, from the most democratic to the most dictatorial, will tell you that the earth is more important than their particular ideology. Yet such a great many people are unwilling to look past their own immediate gratification and ignore the potentially destructive consequences of their actions — should worse come to worse and something gets out of hand. I just do not understand this way of thinking.

How can governments be willing to let their people starve to death and die of curable diseases simply because their own personal grasp on power is more important. How can one person's benefit be of more value than the lives of millions of others? How can millions of people's rights and lives be of less value than those of one small clique of leaders? How can greed be of more value than compassion? Almost all people will say that it's not, yet their actions don't match their words as they continue to support governments that daily demonstrate that they value greed, power, and control over all other values.

The earth is sacred. The people that live on it, in the past, now, and all those to come, are sacred. Whether or not there was a "beginning," certainly we, as human beings, don't have the right to bring it to an end. In fact, we have a moral obligation to prevent it.

Wisdom, compassion, and courage. Make those your defining values — not how much you earn or how much you own. Let giving be of more value to you than receiving. Let your Contact List be filled with people you can help, not those who can help you. Forgive, don't forget. Compromise, don't criticize. Offer deference not difference. Seek to understand rather than trying to eliminate. Work to understand your beginning so that we don't have to face our ending.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Get Your Butt Out Here!

DHS 20/100
(Did i really promise 100 consecutive days? Aigo, aigo, aigo,.... What was i thinking????)

Found this on the roadside about 3 mile from home.
Road Kill 6
Just this. One. Focus!
Was it like this way back when?
Run. Chase. Catch. Kill. Live.

After my run, i found an email from the library saying that my copy of Behold Your Life: A Pilgrimage Through Your Memories had come in so i walked down to pick it up after lunch. The book is a 40 day journey through your life with instructions to read only one chapter a day and reflect on that day's message and questions. I'll start that tomorrow and it's killing me not to look ahead and see what to expect. But, i'm going to stick to discipline and not look.

Where the questions are specifically Christian, i'll look at them from my non-Christian perspective. We'll see how that works out, given that i don't know what questions are going to come up. But, the journey is off to a good start as the instructions end with this quote from Rumi:

I called through your door,
"The mystics are gathering
in the street. Come out!"

"Leave me alone.
I'm sick."

"I don't care if you're dead!
Jesus is here, and he wants
to resurrect somebody."

:-) I love that.

Get out here!
   I'm sick, i told you.
I don't care if you're dead, i said get your butt out here. Didn't you hear who i am?
   Go away, i'm in a bad mood.
Don't you understand who i am? I can take care of that. Get out here NOW!
   Just go away, please.
If i have to come in there, there will be Hell to pay.
   You're funny. If you don't leave now, i'm going to call the cops.

Sometimes, even when the solutions appear at your door, we're too closed-minded to accept them, preferring to continue to suffer. Alone. What a waste, but an incredibly hard habit to break once you fall in that hole.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Runner's Orgasms

Went to the bookstore to see if there were any unbelievable after-Thanksgiving sales. There wasn't anything for me, as it turned out, so i went home and bought Eihei Dōgen: Mystical Realist online — but while browsing in the Running section at the store, i did notice this chapter title in one book: "The Runner's High Is Like An Orgasm."

Hmmmmmm..... now that has to make one stop and think. Does this mean i'd have more luck in life if i replaced my photos on the online dating sites with new ones of me in my running shoes and tights? Or, conversely, does that explain why my short, fast tempo runs are great but i find it so difficult on those long, slow early morning weekend runs? I wonder if there really is a connection or if he was just trying to sell books????


DHS 19/100

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The World Outside

DHS 18/100

Time For A Walk

Time for a walk
   in the world outside
      and a look at who I am
Originally I had no cares
   and I am seeking
      nothing special
Even for my guests
   I have nothing
      to offer
Except these white stones
   and this clear
      spring water

Musō Soseki
Sun At Midnight: Poems And Sermons

Originally, no cares. Then life, and, well.... there goes the "no cares." In the mountains, in a monastery, in retreat, it's easy to get back to that. Search for nothing special. Let the greatest presents you can offer guests be reality. But, occasionally make the time to take a walk. Outside. Back to this mundane world were the rest of us live. Can you stay on the path or do you get lost? Here's where exams are administered. Who are you now?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Who Cares?

[M]an's way to liberation and perfection lies through an increasing impersonality. It is his ancient and constant experience that the more he opens himself to the impersonal and infinite, to that which is pure and high and one and common in all things and beings, the impersonal and infinite in Nature, the impersonal and infinite in life, the impersonal and infinite in his own subjectivity, the less he is bound by his ego and by the circle of the finite, the more he feels a sense of largeness, peace, pure happiness. The pleasure, joy, satisfaction which the finite by itself can give, or the ego in its own right attain, is transitory, petty and insecure. To dwell entirely in the ego sense and its finite conceptions, powers, satisfactions is to find this world forever full of transience and suffering...

[T]he finite life is always troubled by a certain sense of vanity for this fundamental reason that the finite is not the whole or the highest truth of life; life is not entirely real until it opens into the sense of the infinite. ...

For the impersonal, the infinite, the One in which all the impermanent, mutable, multiple activity of the world finds above itself its base of permanence, security and peace, is the immobile Self. ... If we see this, we shall see that to raise one's consciousness and the poise of one's being out of limited personality into this infinite and impersonal Brahman is the first spiritual necessity. To see all beings in this one Self is the knowledge which raises the soul out of egoistic ignorance and its works and results; to live in it is to acquire peace and firm spiritual foundation.

Essays On The Gita

It's hard to explain
These things called life, age, and death
Then again, who cares?

That's the question, isn't it? Who cares? Who? What? No door prize for anyone that says "I do." :-(

DHS 17/100

Road Kill 5
Neither fast nor slow
Just one foot then the other
But oi vey, my lungs!

Friday, November 27, 2009

DHS 16/100

DHS 16/100
Getting worse rather than better, i'm afraid....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

No One Saw What I Did

I hadn't intended to write anything today, but i've been laying in bed reading a few poems in that wonderful anthology A Book Of Luminous Things and the below poem by Bronislaw Maj forced me to get out my computer and say something ... anything ... before the thoughts go away overnight.

A Leaf

A leaf, one of the last, parts from a maple branch:
it is spinning in the transparent air of October, falls
on a heap of others, stops, fades. No one
admired its entrancing struggle with the wind,
followed its flight, no one will distinguish it now
as it lies among other leaves, no one saw
what I did. I am
the only one.

One of the great things about poetry is that if 100 of us all sat down and read the same poem, all 100 of us could well walk away with a different interpretation of its meaning. Each of us would approach the reading from different perspectives; different ages, different social status, different life experiences, different genders, different educations, different attitudes towards the spiritual, different beliefs, different ideologies, different prejudices and biases, different mental and emotional states at the time of the reading, and on, and on. And all of this means each of us views the same poem through different lenses.

I'd bet that my read of this poem is completely different from what the author intended. In fact, after i read it, i actually blinked and reread it wondering if i was way off track. But, i just can't shake it.

First off, reread the poem, but as you do, read the words "no one" as if they had quotes around them. This "no one" isn't "nobody" or "no person," but me or you after having spent time meditating under the maple tree, after the mind has finally quieted down, after thoughts have finally stopped, after the ego has finally disappeared. By taking that inward step, "I" am no longer there, but "no one" is there, taking everything in. "No One," because all labels that could be used to place me in a category have disappeared. "No One," because there is nothing that you can pin on me to set me apart from anything else. I am not Some One any more, it is my original self sitting there. Observing.

One chilly October morning, a leaf, the last of countless leaves, finally drops to the ground, joining all the other leaves in a pile after floating slowly this way and that, circling lazily to the right for a while and then just as lazily to the left before settling onto the heap.

As this is happening, someone sits quietly in meditation beneath the tree; aware of all that is happening, but not focused on any of it. In the outside world there are countless differences. It is October, it is chilly, there are multiple leaves, with most on the ground but one left on the tree. In the outside world, there is discrimination, there is me and you, there is me and a tree, me and a leaf, a leaf on the tree and a leaf on the ground. There is movement, there is up on the tree and down on the ground. There is struggle and there is final peace and acceptance. There is a beginning and an end.

In the inner world, though, there is none of that. There is just "this," and that includes everything and nothing, it includes all of space and all of time, or, more accurately, neither space nor time exist apart from everything else. The leaf is space, the tree is space, the falling is time, the leaf drifting in the wind is space and time manifesting as a falling leaf.

And "no one" is also included, sitting under the tree as the leaf drifts down in front of his seat. No one admires the beauty of the experience, no one admires the gracefulness of the process, no one sees all of the leaves lying under the tree. No thoughts were required or wanted. There was no observer or observed, just an experience.

But, without intellectualizing it, No One did notice one thing more important even than the falling leaf. No One saw what "I" did during this period: "I" had gone away, "I" had disappeared, "I" had stepped out of the way leaving No One to stand alone, uncovered, unhindered, unencumbered.

"I" realized that there was no separation between it and the rest of the universe. There is just existence. There is just Being. "I am the only one." Of course. If there is only One, how could I not be the only one? And No One smiled when he saw the lesson learned.

So, with all that under your belt, reread the poem from that perspective. It's incredibly beautiful.

Boy am i glad i decided to read a few poems tonight. That was a great one!