Thursday, August 23, 2007

Roberta Johnson Grant

(June 4, 1935-August 23, 2007)

"It's said,

'When you learn to be a big idiot,
then you start to have some skill; Studying until you are as if stupid is the beginning of real insight.'

If you can learn to be as if stupid, then no matter what Dharma door
you cultivate you will attain samadhi and gain some realization. It's just because you are unable to be stupid that you cannot properly enter into samadhi and don't get any response from your cultivation."

~The Shurangama Mantra--
The Efficacious Language of Heaven and Earth
Lectures by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rumi: Sufi Poem

Monday, August 20, 2007


Nowhere is it the same place as yesterday.
None of us is the same person as yesterday.
We finally die from the exhaustion of becoming.
This downward cellular jubilance is shared
by the wind, bugs, birds, bears and rivers,
and perhaps the black holes in galactic space
where our souls will all be gathered in an invisible
thimble of antimatter. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
Yes, trees wear out as the wattles under my chin
grow, the wrinkled hands that tried to strangle
a wife beater in New York City in 1957.
We whirl with the earth, catching our breath
as someone else, our soft brains ill-trained
except to watch ourselves disappear into the distance.
Still, we love to make music of this puzzle.
~ Jim Harrison ~
(Saving Daylight)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"The mind creates time and space,
and takes its own creations for
All is here and now, but we do not see
it. Truly, all is in
me and by me. There
is nothing else. The very idea of "else"
is a
disaster and a calamity."
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

The question is


"I am God"
rattle around
your head
all the other


Or, does
your senses
your body
your mind
your soul

delicate joy
of wholeness?

- Xan

Monday, August 13, 2007

(click to enlarge)
October 1939. "The Fairbanks family has moved to three different places on the project in one year." Willow Creek area, Malheur County, Oregon. Photograph by Dorothea Lange for the Farm Security Administration.

Driveing Home

Minister of our coming doom, preaching
On the car radio, how right
Your Hell and damnation sound to me
As I travel these small, bleak roads
Thinking of the mailman’s son
The Army sent back in a sealed coffin.

His house is around the next turn.
A forlorn mutt sits in the yard
Waiting for someone to come home.
I can see the TV is on in the living room,
Canned laughter in the empty house
Like the sound of beer cans tied to a hearse.

by Charles Simic

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Start walking

Who gets up early to discover
The moment light begins?

Who finds us here

Circling bewildered - like atoms?

Who comes to a spring thirsty

And finds the moon reflected in it? Chase a deer

And end up everywhere!

An oyster opens his mouth to swallow

One drop - now there's a pearl

A Vagrant wanders through empty ruins

Suddenly - he's wealthy

But don't be satisfied

With poems and stories

Of how things have gone with others

Unfold your own mythos
Without complicated explanation

So everyone will understand
The passage,

We have opened you
Now - start walking...

Towards the Light

Your legs will get heavy and tired.
Then comes a moment of feeling...

The wings you've grown

Lifting you

Towards the Light
- Rumi

Saturday, August 11, 2007

All Stories All

I have noticed that even when meditating I'm telling myself stories. We're always telling ourselves a story. That's the autobiography of Samsara. Telling ourselves a story: Where I've been and where I'm going and what it means and what I'm getting out of it and every variation on that theme. Even when we're sitting, we're telling ourselves some story: "Oh, this is a good one." Or, more often, "This is not a good one!" They're equal, those two stories, regardless of the content. Or, "This would be a good one if the person in front of me would stop moving or if my knee didn't hurt." Or whatever it is this hour. Always telling ourselves a story. Awareness is curative. The more we are aware of it, we might get tired of the story-telling. It can be amusing and we can enjoy it, but we don't have to be so invested in it as if without the story nothing would be real. Actually, it's quite the opposite: With the story, we lose the reality that is there. The story is obscuring it. The story is covering it up. So we're all telling ourselves the story of who and what we are. Every moment, if we check - and I was looking into my own mind - we are always telling a story through concepts, which are not the reality itself, they're just overlaid on reality, like maps that outline the territory but are not the real territory. Telling ourselves stories endlessly. I think it would be interesting to look into the practice of everyday life, into what story we're telling ourselves now. Like, "Oh, I've come a long way so I can just indulge in this now." As if there is some real meaning in that. If you want to indulge, just go ahead. We don't have to make a big story out of it. That's just extra energy wasted, when you could just be indulging straightahead! Telling our story and then inevitably telling others' stories, and if they don't buy into our stories having fights and ending up with wars about them. We can really settle back, I think, and look into what we are really getting out of telling these stories. See if it isn't just as rewarding, or even more so, to just tune into the actual story, which doesn't depend on us to tell. Just tune in and listen to the real story. Buddhism always says nothing and empty and no-self, that everything's like a dream, unreal, and all, but the positive side is what we would call reality. In Buddhism we don't hear so much about reality, we emphasize unreality because it's a deconstructive approach. The positive side is freedom, openness, loving-kindness, mastery, impeccability, genuine living, altruism. That's the reality. And we're missing that story because we're telling our own story constantly and then trying to pass it to others to reinforce our own story-telling."

- excerpt from Dancing with Life, Dharma Talks, by Lama Surya Das

Man's conflict and unhappiness stem from his obsessive preoccupation with security and survival based on two fundamental misconceptions: one, that he is separate and distinct from the rest of creation, and two, that he has independent free will in the choice of action to determine the results of events within that creation. This tremendous misunderstanding itself constitutes man's fall from divine grace, referred to in the Biblical fable of Adam and Eve as 'the knowledge of good and evil'.
Ramesh S. Balsekar

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

"Learn to look without imagination, to
listen without distortion: that is all.
Stop attributing names and shapes to
the essentially nameless
and formless,
realize that every mode of perception
is subjective,
that what is seen or heard,
touched or smelled, felt or thought,

expected or imagined, is in the mind
and not in reality, and you will
peace and freedom from fear."
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

I Remember Galileo

I remember Galileo describing the mind

as a piece of paper blown around by the wind,
and I loved the sight of it sticking to a tree,
or jumping into the backseat of a car,
and for years I watched paper leap through my cities;
but yesterday I saw the mind was a squirrel caught crossing
Route 80 between the wheels of a giant truck,
dancing back and forth like a thin leaf,
or a frightened string, for only two seconds living
on the white concrete before he got away,
his life shortened by all that terror, his head
jerking, his yellow teeth ground down to dust.
It was the speed of the squirrel and his lowness to the ground,
his great purpose and the alertness of his dancing,
that showed me the difference between him and paper.
Paper will do in theory, when there is time
to sit back in a metal chair and study shadows;
but for this life I need a squirrel,
his clawed feet spread, his whole soul quivering,
the loud noise shaking him from head to tail.
O philosophical mind, O mind of paper, I need a squirrel
finishing his wild dash across the highway,
rushing up his green ungoverned hillside.
~ Gerald Stern ~

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Absolute works with nothing. The workshop, the materials are what does not exist. Try and be a sheet of paper with nothing on it. Be a spot of ground where nothing is growing, where something might be planted, a seed, possibly, from the Absolute.
- Rumi, from Mathnawi V: 1960-64, version
by Coleman Barks, The Essential Rumi

Sunday, August 05, 2007


How could I love my fellow men who tortured me?

One night I was dragged into a room
And beaten near death with
their shoes

striking me hundreds of times
in the face, scarring me

I cried out for God to help, until I fainted.

That night in a dream, in a dream more real than this world,
a strap from the Christ’s sandal
fell from my bleeding

and I looked at Him and He
was weeping, and

I cobbled their boots;
how sorry
I am.

What moves all things
is God.”


Translation by: Daniel Ladinsky
Thanks to Duane Tucker
Poetry of the Soul

Saturday, August 04, 2007

"Develop the witness attitude and you will
find in your own experience that detachment
brings control. The state of witnessing is full of
power; there is nothing passive about it."
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Thursday, August 02, 2007


In India, I was living in a little hut, about six feet by seven feet.
It had a canvas flap instead of a door. I was sitting on my bed
meditating, and a cat wandered in and plopped down on my lap.
I took the cat and tossed it out the door. Ten seconds later it was
back in my lap. We got into a sort of dance, this cat and I. I would
toss it out, and it would come back. I tossed it out because I was
trying to meditate, to get enlightened. But the cat kept returning.
I was getting more and more irritated, more and more annoyed with
the persistence of the cat. Finally, after about a half-hour of this
coming in and tossing out, I had to surrender. There was nothing else
to do. There was no way to block off the door. I sat there, the cat
came back in, and it got on my lap. But I did not do anything. I just let
go. Thirty seconds later the cat got up and walked out. So you see, our
teachers come in many forms.
--Joseph Goldstein