Friday, July 31, 2009
All of us are apprenticed to the same teacher
that the religious institutions originally worked
with: reality. Reality-insight says ... master
the twenty-four hours. Do it well, without self-
pity. It is as hard to get the children herded
into the car pool and down the road to the bus
as it is to chant sutras in the Buddha-hall on
a cold morning. One move is not better than the
other, each can be quite boring, and they both
have the virtuous quality of repetition.
Repetition and ritual and their good results
come in many forms. Changing the filter, wiping
noses, going to meetings, picking up around the
house, washing dishes, checking the dipstick-don't
let yourself think these are distracting you from
your more serious pursuits. Such a round of chores
is not a set of difficulties we hope to escape
from so that we may do our "practice" which will
put us on a "path"-it is our path.
- GARY SNYDER, 'The Practice of the Wild'
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Now is the time to know
That all that you do is sacred.
Now, why not consider
A lasting truce with yourself and God.
Now is the time to understand
That all your ideas of right and wrong
Were just a child's training wheels
To be laid aside
When you finally live
Hafiz is a divine envoy
Whom the Beloved
Has written a holy message upon.
My dear, please tell me,
Why do you still
Throw sticks at your heart
What is it in that sweet voice inside
That incites you to fear?
Now is the time for the world to know
That every thought and action is sacred.
This is the time
For you to compute the impossibility
That there is anything
Now is the season to know
That everything you do
Sunday, July 12, 2009
But there's another way out. Recognize the illusion. See the emotions and the circumstances of your life for what they are - persuasive stories. Notice who's at the center of each story, and who's always "right". That in itself should tell you that something is amiss. We should be so tired of spinning our stories, but we go right on doing it, and thus the pain persists.
Advaita teaches that there is only a nondual universe, and everything is made from the same soup, and that soup is God (or Brahman, or That). So instead of being an independent ego that runs around making itself the center of every story, you're actually That. It's the most mind- and ego-blowing piece of information that you'll ever receive, and something inside you resonates when you hear it. Advaita shows up in Christianity as well: Saint Francis (pictured above) said, "What you are looking for is what is looking." And Meister Eckhart: "The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me." All the enlightened ones knew it, embodied it, and tried to show us that we too are it. You are it. There's nothing that you have to do. Running around and trying to find it would be like searching hither and thither for your own nose. Just relax, take a deep breath, let go of all effort, and there it is - you've found your nose. Awakening to your true nature is like this. It's so simple that almost everyone misses it.
I love the simplicity of Advaita. It's so counterintuitive to our culture. We think we need to work hard to gain anything, and in most cases that's true enough. But not when it comes to enlightenment. There's nothing to achieve. Just a simple recognition of what is, and that's That.
Monday, July 06, 2009
Immerse yourself in its particulars.
Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed.
Quit the evasions.
Stop giving yourself needless trouble.
It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now.
You are not some disinterested bystander.
Respect your partnership with providence.
Ask yourself often, How may I perform this particular deed
such that it would be consistent with and acceptable to the divine will?
Heed the answer and get to work.
When your doors are shut and your room is dark you are not alone.
The will of nature is within you as your natural genius is within.
Listen to its importunings.
Follow its directives.
As concerns the art of living, the material is your own life.
No great thing is created suddenly.
There must be time.
Give your best and always be kind.
~ Epictetus ~
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Peter says if you’re going to talk about suffering
you have to mention pleasure too.
Like the way, on the day of the parade, on Forbes Avenue,
one hundred parking tickets flutter
under the windshield wipers of one hundred parked cars.
The accordion band will be along soon,
and the famous Flying Pittsburgettes,
and it’s summer and the sun is shining on the inevitable flags—
Something weird to admire this week on TV:
the handsome face of the white supremacist on trial.
How he looks right back at the lawyers, day after day
—never objecting, never making an apology.
I look at his calm, untroubled face
and think, That motherfucker is going to die white and right,
disappointing everyone like me
who thinks that punishment should be a kind of education.
My attitude is like what God says in the Bible:
Love your brother, or be destroyed.
Then Moses or somebody says back to God,
If I love you,
will you destroy my enemies?
and God says—this is in translation—, No Problemo.
Here, everyone is talking about the price of freedom,
and about how we as a people are united in our down payment.
about how we will fight to the very bottom of our bank account.
And the sky is so blue it looks like it may last forever
and the skinny tuba player goes oompahpah
and everybody cheers.
In the big store window of the travel agency downtown,
a ten-foot sign says, WE WILL NEVER FORGET.
The letters have been cut with scissors out of blue construction paper
and pasted carefully to the sign by someone’s hand.
What I want to know is, who will issue the ticket
for improper use of the collective pronoun?
What I want to know is, who will find and punish the maker
of these impossible promises?
from What Narcissism Means to Me; Greywolf Press, 2003
Mondays are meshed with Tuesdays
and the week with the whole year.
Time cannot be cut
with your weary scissors,
and all the names of the day
are washed out by the waters of night.
No one can claim the name of Pedro,
nobody is Rosa or Maria,
all of us are dust or sand,
all of us are rain under rain.
They have spoken to me of Venezuelas,
of Chiles and of Paraguays;
I have no idea what they are saying.
I know only the skin of the earth
and I know it is without a name.
When I lived amongst the roots
they pleased me more than flowers did,
and when I spoke to a stone
it rang like a bell.
It is so long, the spring
which goes on all winter.
Time lost its shoes.
A year is four centuries.
When I sleep every night,
what am I called or not called?
And when I wake, who am I
if I was not while I slept?
This means to say that scarcely
have we landed into life
than we come as if new-born;
let us not fill our mouths
with so many faltering names,
with so many sad formalities,
with so many pompous letters,
with so much of yours and mine,
with so much of signing of papers.
I have a mind to confuse things,
unite them, bring them to birth,
mix them up, undress them,
until the light of the world
has the oneness of the ocean,
a generous, vast wholeness,
a crepitant fragrance.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
For some semitropical reason
when the rains fall
relentlessly they fall
into swimming pools, these otherwise
bright and scary
arachnids. They can swim
a little, but not for long
and they can't climb the ladder out.
They usually drown - but
if you want their favor,
if you believe there is justice,
a reward for not loving
the death of ugly
and even dangerous (the eel, hog snake,
rats) creatures, if
you believe these things, then
you would leave a lifebuoy
or two in your swimming pool at night.
And in the morning
you would haul ashore
the huddled, hairy survivors
and escort them
back to the bush, and know,
be assured that at least these saved,
as individuals, would not turn up
in your hat, drawer,
or the tangled underworld
of your socks, and that even -
when your belief in justice
merges with your belief in dreams -
they may tell the others
in a sign language
four times as subtle
and complicated as man's
that you are good,
that you love them,
that you would save them again