Wednesday, November 29, 2006


When Emperor Wu asked the great monk Bodhidharma "What is the highest meaning of the holy truths?", he answered, "No holiness is clear like space." The dialogue continued with Emperor Wu asking "Who is facing me?" Bodhidarma answered with a resounding "DON'T KNOW." Bodhidharma's don't know has echoed down the ages from generation to generation, teaching us the truth of this very moment. Do you understand Bodhidharma's don't know? This don't know undercuts all our conceptual ideas about life. Everything is turned upside down, and we don't understand anything. This not understanding anything is fundamental to finding our true nature and helping all sentient beings. When we can let go of our habitual world view suddenly the truth of this very moment opens up before us. Our desires, opinions and ideas serve to blind us from seeing the truth of this moment. How often does anger prevent us from seeing a situation clearly? Doesn't desire stop us from honestly dealing with others? We live moment to moment trying to protect this thing we call I and to literally destroy anything that threatens it. Even when I thinks it is being compassionate this is usually just a strategy to get what it wants. Bodhidarma's don't know stops this process in its tracks. Don't know cuts off everything; ideas, opinions, conditions, knowledge and beliefs. Then, we can believe what we see in this moment. Then, our anger doesn't blind us to the needs of others. In this moment there is no I to protect and enhance. There is no I to horde or contract. Without making anything, helping all beings is possible. In this moment how to act and what to do is clear. So Bodhidarma has already mapped the way to liberation. We don't need to understand anything else. We don't need to become anything special or be any particular way. Our practices of bowing, chanting, sitting and kong-ans are designed to point us to this moment. Every day this practice helps us let go of our idea of self and perceive our true nature. Retreats help to intensify this practice and integrate don't know deeply into our life. This great effort is needed because our karma is so strong. For years and years we have built up this I. Great effort is needed to establish this don't know as the foundation of our lives.

Monday, November 27, 2006

For behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:21)

You are all Buddhas. There is nothing you need to achieve.
Just open your eyes. (Siddhartha Gautama)

If you cannot find the truth right where you are where
else do you expect to find it? (Dogen Zenji)

Great knowledge sees all in one. Small knowledge breaks
down into the many. (Chuang Tzu)

Bell's theorem demonstrates that the universe is fundamentally
interconnected, interdependent, and inseparable.' (Fritjof Capra)

Tibetan Buddhism:
There is not a single state that is not this vast state of presence.

'In that glory is no 'I' or 'We' or 'Thou.' 'I,' 'We,'
'Thou,' and 'He' are all one thing.'(Hallaj)

Tat Tvam Asi - Thou Art That.

I am That I am.

If you look deeply into the palm of your hand,
you will see your parents and all generations
of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this
moment. Each is present in your body. You are
the continuation of each of thesepeople.
To be born means that something which did
not exist comes into existence. But the day
we are born is not our beginning. It is a day
of continuation. But that should not make us
less happy when we celebrate our Happy
Continuation Day. Since we are never born,
how can we cease to be?
This is what the Heart Sutra reveals to us.
When we have tangible experience of
non-birth and non-death, we know ourselves
beyond duality. The meditation on no separate
self is one way to pass through the gate of
birth and death.
Your hand proves that you
have never been born and you will never die.
The thread of life has never been interrup-
ted from time without beginning until now.
Previous generations, all the way back to
single cell beings, are present in your hand
at this moment. You can observe and exper-
ience this. Your hand is always available as
a subject for meditation.

--Thich Nhat Hanh, Present Moment, Wonderful

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Love After Love

The time will come
When, with elation,
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door, in your own mirror,
And each will smile at the other's welcome

And say, sit here. Eat
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
To itself, to the stranger who has loved you
All your life, whom you have ignored
For another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

The photographs, the desperate notes,
Peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life

Derek Walcott

Monday, November 20, 2006

If you hanker for
a zenith of felicity
on the bed of the Divine
begin by dusting off
the wings of wonder
on your local pillow
Lift your ineffable
out of the mundane
Aim for airborne
with the eye of the heart
as your sky pilot
and soar to glory

~ James Broughton ~

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What's In The Temple?

In the quiet spaces of my mind a thought lies still, but ready to spring.
It begs me to open the door so it can walk about.
The poets speak in obscure terms pointing madly at the unsayable.
The sages say nothing, but walk ahead patting their thigh calling for us to follow.
The monk sits pen in hand poised to explain the cloud of unknowing.
The seeker seeks, just around the corner from the truth.
If she stands still it will catch up with her.
Pause with us here a while.
Put your ear to the wall of your heart.
Listen for the whisper of knowing there.
Love will touch you if you are very still.
If I say the word God, people run away.
They've been frightened--sat on 'till the spirit cried "uncle."
Now they play hide and seek with somebody they can't name.
They know he's out there looking for them, and they want to be found,
But there is all this stuff in the way.
I can't talk about God and make any sense,
And I can't not talk about God and make any sense.
So we talk about the weather, and we are talking about God.
I miss the old temples where you could hang out with God.
Still, we have pet pounds where you can feel love draped in warm fur,
And sense the whole tragedy of life and death.
You see there the consequences of carelessness,
And you feel there the yapping urgency of life that wants to be lived.
The only things lacking are the frankincense and myrrh.
We don't build many temples anymore.
Maybe we learned that the sacred can't be contained.
Or maybe it can't be sustained inside a building.
Buildings crumble.
It's the spirit that lives on.
If you had a temple in the secret spaces of your heart,
What would you worship there?
What would you bring to sacrifice?
What would be behind the curtain in the holy of holies?
Go there now.
~ Tom Barrett ~

Saturday, November 11, 2006

"Self-surrender . . .

is the surrender of all self-concern.
It cannot be
done, it happens when
you realize your true nature.
self-surrender, even accompanied
by feeling is of little value and
down under stress."

~Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Slouching Towards Arunachala

Change is in the wind.
This humble blog has over the months
morphed into a repository for a classical/neo
advaita wisdom collection. And that's all
well and good.
Increasingly, say over dinner with a friend
last weekend when I launched into yet another
story of family craziness when asked "what's
new with you?", and at the end of yet another
family story, after the friends rictus mouth silently
mouthing a Craig Ferguson Scottish "Whaaa?",
after the "you gotta be kidding" and after the
"Oh my God!", then comes "thats just too good,
you gotta write this down", I came home and
started writing it down, and to my surprise what
developed wasn't a first person monologue at
all, but a dialogue between someone who calls
himself "Uncle Charlie", and someone from
beyond time and space named Toby. A
channeled entity.

AFarDistantHowl will continue as it is, with
this post, "Slouching Towards Arunachala"
remaining on top, and having additions and
and subtractions below the fold, but with the
Charlie/Toby dialogue being the focus at the
new blog.

For ...

Stories are medicine, small doses of what matters,
and it is the telling that releases the medicine, the telling
that soothes our pain and shares our joy. . . . It has
always been clear that the life of our expression and
the life of our stories are connected to our health.
Mark Nepo in The Exquisite Risk

Keep coming back for additions and if you find
yourself having an interest in some white
trash channeled explorations, those of my
family those of me, email me for my new
trailer house address at White Trash Lane.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

On Angels

All was taken away from you: white dresses,
wings, even existence.
Yet I believe you,

There, where the world is turned inside out,
a heavy fabric embroidered with stars and beasts,
you stroll, inspecting the trustworthy seems.

Short is your stay here:
now and then at a matinal hour, if the sky is clear,
in a melody repeated by a bird,
or in the smell of apples at close of day
when the light makes the orchards magic.

They say somebody has invented you
but to me this does not sound convincing
for the humans invented themselves as well.

The voice -- no doubt it is a valid proof,
as it can belong only to radiant creatures,
weightless and winged (after all, why not?),
girdled with the lightening.

I have heard that voice many a time when asleep
and, what is strange, I understood more or less
an order or an appeal in an unearthly tongue:

day draw near
another one
do what you can.

~Czeslaw Milosz

Monday, November 06, 2006

“May God steal from you all that steals you from Him.”

Spurred with the desire to gain publicity for himself, one day Hasan, seeing Rabia in a general congregation of saints, came to her and said, "Rabia, let us leave this congregation and sitting on the waters of the lake, hold our spiritual discussion there." He said this to display his miraculous power before others, for he had gained mastery over water as Christ had walked over water. Rabia remonstrated, "Hasah, put your vanity aside. If you are so determined to separate yourself from the general assembly of saints, why should we not both fly and hold our meeting there in the air?" Rabia said this as if she had that power. Hasan knew he could not do this and said as much, shamed by her words. Rabia said, "Know that what you can do fishes can also do-- easily. What I suggested was no more than what a fly does. Reality transcends this miracle-mongering. Seek humility."

Fariduddin Attar

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Three from Ramesh

True love of God means surrender to Him, wanting nothing - not even salvation.

A mind that can apprehend an object as it truly is will
know precisely nothing at all. Such is the whole-mind of the enlightened sage.

Human beings actually have no more
independence or autonomy in living their lives than do the characters in a dream. Neither do they have anything to do with the creation of the dream or anything in it. They are simply being lived along with everything else in this living dream of the manifested universe. The entire dream is unreal. Only the dreamer is real, and that is Consciousness itself.

For the upcoming election . . .


The birds they sang

At the break of day

Start again
I heard them say

Dont dwell on what
Has passed away

Or what is yet to be

The wars they will

Be fought again

The holy dove

Be caught again

Bought and sold

And bought again

The dove is never free

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

Thats how the light gets in

We asked for signs

The signs were sent

The birth betrayed

The marriage spent

The widowhood

Of every government

Signs for all to see

Cant run no more

With the lawless crowd

While the killers in high places

Say their prayers out loud

But theyve summoned up

A thundercloud

And theyre going to hear from me

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

Thats how the light gets in

You can add up the parts

But you wont have the sum

You can strike up the march

There is no drum
Every heart

To love will come

But like a refugee

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything

Thats how the light gets in
~Leonard Cohen