Saturday, September 7, 2019

Don’t squeeze the way of Buddha into any frame.

To you who can’t stop worrying about how others see you

You can’t even trade a single fart with the next guy. 
Each and every one of us has to live out his own life.
 Don’t waste time thinking about who’s most talented.

The eyes don’t say, “Sure we’re lower, but we see more.”
The eyebrows don’t reply, “Sure we don’t see anything, but we are higher up.”
Living out the buddha-dharma means fulfilling your function completely
 without knowing that you’re doing it. A mountain doesn’t know it’s tall.
 The sea doesn’t know it’s wide and deep. Each and every thing
 in the universe is active without knowing it.
The bird’s singing and the flower’s laughter appear naturally,
completely independent from the person sitting in zazen at the foot of the cliff.
The bird doesn’t sing in honor of the person in zazen.
 The flower doesn’t blossom to amaze the person with her beauty. 
In exactly the same way, the person doesn’t sit in zazen
 in order to get satori. Every single being simply realizes the self,
 through the self, for the self.

Religion means living your own life, 
completely fresh and new, without being taken in by anyone.

Hey! What are you looking at? Don’t you see that it’s about you?

The asshole doesn’t need to be ashamed of being the asshole. 
The feet don’t have any reason to go on strike just because they’re only feet.
 The head isn’t the most important of all, and the navel doesn’t need to imagine
 he’s the father of all things. 
It’s strange though that people look at the prime minister
 as an especially important person. The nose can’t replace the eyes,
 and the mouth can’t replace the ears.
Everything has its own identity,
 which is unsurpassable in the whole universe.

Some children have caught a mouse and now it’s writhing in the trap. 
They’re having fun watching how it scrapes its nose till it bleeds
 and how it rips up its tail . . . In the end they’ll throw it to the cat for food.
If I was sitting in the mouse’s place, I’d say to myself,
 “You damn humans won’t have any fun with me!” 
And I’d simply sit zazen..

To you who wish you could lead a happier life

“Rest awhile and everything will be fine.”
We simply need to take a short break. Being buddha means taking a short break
 from being a human. Being buddha doesn’t mean working your way up as a human.

What makes Ryōkan so refreshing is that he doesn’t fondle things.

In everything, people follow their feelings of joy, anger, sadness and comfort.
 But that’s something different from everyday mind. 
Everyday mind means cease-fire. Without preferences, without animosity,
 without winner and loser, without good and evil, without joy and pain
 – that’s everyday mind.

“What sort of person stands on the ground where there’s neither coming nor going?”
Kyūhō answered, “The stone sheep versus the stone tiger: 
sooner or later they’ll get tired of staring each other in the eyes.” 
The stone sheep won’t flinch. The stone tiger won’t jump out of hunger. 
That’s the point – encountering things beyond thinking.

What do we have when we truly have a grip on things as they are? 
Beyond-thinking [hishiryō]. Beyond-thinking doesn’t allow itself to be thought.
 No matter if you think so or not: things are simply as they are.

“All things are empty” means there’s nothing we can run into,
 because nothing is really happening. We only think something’s happening
 because we are intoxicated by something.

Nothing is ever happening, no matter what seems to be going on 
– that’s the natural condition. Illusion means losing this natural condition.
 Normally we don’t recognize this natural condition.
 Normally we cover it with something else, so it’s not natural anymore.

The buddha-dharma means the normal condition. 
Yet in the world everything is unnatural.
 Domineering, succumbing and discussing everything to death are unnatural.

Each place fills heaven and earth, every instant is eternal.

To practice the way of Buddha means to completely live out this present moment 
– which is our whole life – here and now.

Don’t squeeze the way of Buddha into any frame.

~ Kodo Sawaki
excerpts from To you
Translated from Japanese by Jesse Haasch and Muhô 

pastures of possibility


More often than not, we have picked up the habits of thinking of those around us.
  These thought-habits are not yours; they can damage the way you see the world 
and make you doubt your own instinct and sense of life. 
 When you become aware that your thinking has a life of its own,
 you will never make a prison of your own perception. 
 Your vision is your home.  A closed vision always wants to make a small room
 out of whatever it sees.  Thinking that limits you denies you life. 

 In order to deconstruct the inner prison, the first step is learning to see that it is a prison.
  You can move in the direction of this discovery by reflecting on the places
 where your life feels limited and tight.  To recognize the crippling feeling
 of being limited is already to have begun moving beyond it.  
Heidegger said, "To recognize a frontier is already to have gone beyond it." 
 Life continues to remain faithful to us.  If we move even the smallest step
 out of our limitation, life comes to embrace us and lead us out into
 the pastures of possibility.

~ John O'Donohue
 from 'Eternal Echoes'

seeing and thinking

However, in the seeing of a tree for instance,
 there is no seer and there is no seen. There is no inside
 ‘I’ that sees and there is no outside ‘tree’ that is seen.

The ‘I’ and the ‘tree’ are concepts superimposed by thinking
 onto the reality of the experience, which in this case could simply be called

It is thinking alone that divides the seamless intimacy of experiencing 
into a subject and an object, into an ‘I’ that sees and a ‘tree’
 that is seen. However, awareness, or ‘I’ and the reality of the tree
 are not two separate experiences.
 They are one.

…The experience of beauty is the dissolution of the apparent ‘objectness’
 of the object and the ‘subjectness’ of our self,
 leaving only the seamless intimacy of experiencing.

~ Rupert Spira
from Presence - Volume II

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

a longing that burns

There is a longing that burns at the root of spiritual practice. 

This is the fire that fuels your journey. The romantic suffering 
you pretend to have grown out of, that remains coiled like a serpent 
beneath the veneer of maturity. You have studied the sacred texts.
 You know that separation from your divine source is an illusion. 
You subscribe to the philosophy that there is nowhere to go 
and nothing to attain, because you are already there
 and you already possess it.

But what about this yearning? What about the way a poem by Rilke

 or Rumi breaks open your heart and triggers a sorrow
 that could consume you if you gave in to it? You’re pretty sure 
this is not a matter of mere psychology. It has little to do with unresolved
 issues of childhood abandonment, or codependent tendencies
 to falsely place the source of your wholeness outside yourself.

 The longing is your recognition of the deepest truth
 that God is love and that this is all you want.
 Every lesser desire melts when it comes near that flame.

—Mirabai Starr
from Parabola  July 2017
art by Fra Angelico, c.1437–1446

find all the barriers

Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find all the barriers
within yourself that you have built against it.

Then when you see what is around you as
not other-than-you, and all and everything as
the existence of the One;

when you do not see anything else
with Him or in him;

but see Him in everything as yourself and
at the same time as the nonexistence
of yourself;
then what you see is the truth.

~ Ibn Al-Arabi

to find himself in another

No, the great business of our time is this: 
for one man to find himself in another one who is on the other side of the world. 
Only by such contacts can there be peace, 
can the sacredness of life be preserved and developed 
and the image of God manifest itself in the world.

It is as if we met on a deeper level of life 
on which individuals are not separate beings...
it is as if we were known to one another in God.

Although we are separated by great distances and even greater barriers 
it gives me pleasure to speak to you as to one whom I feel to be a kindred mind....
It is true that a person always remains a person and utterly separate and apart from every other person. 
But it is equally true that each person is destined to reach with others an understanding and a unity which transcend individuality, and Russian tradition describes this with a concept we do not fully possess in the West- "sobornost."

from his letters to Boris Pasternak

~ Thomas Merton
from  A Life in Letters
art by Tony Karp

lifting of the burden

To me it seems that at those moments, which are characterized 
by the sudden lifting of the burden of anxiety and fear 
which presses upon our daily lives so steadily 
that we are unaware of it, 
what happens is something negative: that is to say, not ‘inspiration’ 
as we commonly think of it, but the breaking down of strong habitual barriers
—which tend to reform very quickly. 

Some obstruction is momentarily whisked away. 
The accompanying feeling is less like what we know as positive pleasure,
 than like a sudden relief from an intolerable burden.

~ T.S. Eliot
 describing moments of clarity and inspiration
art by Emil Nolde

Monday, September 2, 2019

a walk

Each time he took a walk, he felt as though he were leaving himself behind, 
and by giving himself up to the movement of the streets, 
by reducing himself to a seeing eye, he was able to escape the obligation to think,
 and this, more than anything else, brought him a measure of peace,
 a salutary emptiness within… By wandering aimlessly, 
all places became equal and it no longer mattered where he was. 
On his best walks he was able to feel that he was nowhere. 
And this, finally was all he ever asked of things: to be nowhere.

~ Paul Auster
from A Piece of Monologue


few are willing

To deliver oneself up,
to hand oneself over,
entrust oneself completely to the silence
of a wide landscape of woods and hills,
or sea and desert; to sit still while
the sun comes up over the land
and fills its silences with light.

...few are willing to belong completely
to such silence, to let it soak into their bones,
to breathe nothing but silence, to feed
on silence, and to turn the very substance of their life
into a living and vigilant silence.

~ Thomas Merton
from Thoughts in Solitude

Sunday, September 1, 2019

by whom

The Student
Who makes the mind think?
Who fills my body with vitality?
Who causes my tongue to speak?  Who is that
Invisible one who sees through my eyes
and hears through my ears?

The Teacher

The Self is the ear of the ear,
The eye of the eye, the mind of the mind,
The word of the word, and the life of life.
Rising above the senses and the mind
And renouncing separate existence,
The wise realize the deathless Self.

Him our eyes cannot see, nor words express;
He cannot be grasped even by the mind.
We do not know, we cannot understand,
Because he is different from the known
And he is different from the unknown.
Thus have we heard from the illumined ones.

That which makes the tongue speak but cannot be 
Spoken by the tongue, know that as the Self.
This Self is not someone other than you.

That which makes the mind think but cannot be
Thought by the mind, that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.

That which makes the eye see but cannot be 
Seen by the eye, that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.

That which makes the ear hear but cannot be 
Heard by the ear, that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.

That which makes you draw breath but cannot be
Drawn by your breath, that is the Self indeed.
This Self is not someone other than you.

~ The Kena Upanishad
translated and introduced by Eknath Easwaran

There is a Sufi story about a seeker who calls on Allah day in and day out for years and finally throws himself down and sobs,  "How long have I been calling and you do not answer!"  Then he hears a voice:  "Who do you think has been making you call me?"

Kena, in the title means "by whom?" - that is, impelled by whom do all the motions stir?  Or in Shankara's brilliant paraphrase, "By whose mere presence does that desire arise which moves the universe?"

The Heart of Herakles

Lying under the stars,
In the summer night,
Late while the autumn
Constellations climb the sky,
As the Cluster of Hercules
Falls down the west
I put the telescope by
And watch Deneb
Move towards the zenith
My body is asleep. Only
My eyes and brain are awake.
The stars stand around me
Like gold eyes. I can no longer
Tell where I begin and leave off.
The faint breeze in the dark pines,
And the invisible grass,
The tipping earth, the swarming stars
Have an eye that sees itself.

~ Kenneth Rexroth

from News of the Universe: Poems of Twofold Consciousness
chosen and introduced by Robert Bly

the soft animal


You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~ Mary Oliver

every breath taken

Every breath taken in by the man
who loves, and the woman who loves,
goes to fill the water tank
where the spirit horses drink.

~ Robert Bly


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

our group identities

When you seek to affirm your unity by denying that you have anything to do with anyone else, by negating everyone else in the universe until you come down to you: what is there left to affirm? 

 The true way is just the opposite: the more I am able to affirm others, to say “yes” to them in myself, by discovering them in myself and myself in them, the more real I am. I am fully real if my own heart says “yes” to everyone.

 I will be a better Catholic, not if I can refute every shade of Protestantism, but if I can affirm the truth in it and still go further. So, too, with the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists, etc. . If I affirm myself as a Catholic merely by denying all that is Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist, etc., in the end I will find that there is not much left for me to affirm as a Catholic: and certainly no breath of the Spirit with which to affirm it.

~ Thomas Merton
from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander


I find that somehow, by shifting the focus of attention, 
I become the very thing I look at, 
and experience the kind of consciousness it has; 

I become the inner witness of the thing. 
I call this capacity of entering other focal points of consciousness,


you may give it any name you like. 

Love says "I am everything". 
Wisdom says "I am nothing". 
Between the two, my life flows. 

Since at any point of time and space 
I can be both the subject and the object of experience, 
I express it by saying that 
I am both, and neither, and beyond both.

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj