A Return

It is time for a return. Although no one ever left.

Not really.

People are busy living. Or should be.

It is time for a return. Yes, really.

Here goes.

bksiyengar quote

 

In another life, what seems like eons ago, I used to teach yoga.  There was a time, back in 2004 if I’m not mistaken, that it saved my life.  And then I got busy and distracted and . . .

It isn’t important. It never was.

In this life, in this present moment, I am being taught by yoga.

Again.

And, again, it is saving my life.  Somehow the things we love the most always come back to us.

 

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Aging well

This is Truth. Thanks to Lynn for this reminder.

The Buddha's Advice to Laypeople

Three forms of dukkha that all humans are certain to experience are (1) old age, (2) sickness, and (3) death, unless death comes early and accidentally. According to legend, the Buddha began his quest for release after being confronted with these three forms of dukkha. He found transcendence, and yet he also experienced old age, sickness, and death. The difference was that he didn’t take them personally and so bore them with equanimity.

For us, much of the work of maturing is in facing and accepting these three experiences.

The old joke is that getting old is terrible, but better than the alternative. When we’re young, we can’t imagine ever being old; old age sneaks up on us.

Ajahn Chah used to say that our bodies are ever-present proof of anicca, the impermanent nature of all phenomena. We always carry this lesson around with us, and yet we…

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Images from the South

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Bisbee, AZ

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Bisbee, AZ

 

 


Rocks: Older than the gods of man

A quick trip to Bisbee, Arizona, stunning displays of natural beauty.  Calcite, copper, malachite, cuprite, aragonite. . .what a delight!

 


In the wood grain

fullsizeoutput_8aaLast night I was meditating, staring at the old WWII ammunition chest that belonged to my grandfather.  Inside the grain I saw the image of an old man leaning over a worktable.  The brain struggled to make sense of the wood swirls and, somehow, labeled a particular pattern in this way.  I looked away for a few minutes to unsee the old man, but it was no use. Each time I returned to the swirl there he was, still pouring over his project.  He could not be unseen once identified and labeled by the brain.

This is the way the mind works and it is difficult to see through the trap of the conditioned grasping, clutching, and labeling brain.   It is easy to get carried away by the thinking sickness, the checking and judging and struggle to make sense of things that, in and of themselves, are senseless.  This is not a reflection of our True self. It is social conditioning, a ravenous virus of habit mind that feeds on pain and suffering.

This morning during a 5am meditation the brain and eyes wanted to re-see the old man. . .to search, label, and cling to an image from the past. I did not react to the urge, only witnessed it and let it pass.

There never was an old man. There was only a random swirl in the wood grain. It was beautiful just as it was.


Dead Zen

fullsizeoutput_840“To attain enlightenment, it is not necessary to abandon family life, quit your job, become a vegetarian, practice asceticism, flee to a quiet mountaintop, or enter a ghost cave of dead Zen to entertain your subjective imaginings. If you have been practicing quiet meditation but your mind is still not calm and free when in the midst of activity, this means you haven’t been empowered by your quiet meditation.
“Furthermore, if you have been practicing quietude just to get rid of agitation, then when you are practicing quietude just to get rid of agitation, then when you are in the midst of agitation, the agitation will disturb your mind just as if you had never done any quiet meditation.
“When you are studying Zen, as you meet with people and deal with situations, never allow erroneous thoughts to continue. If an erroneous thought arises, immediately focus your attention and root the thought out. If, however, you just follow the thought unhindered, this will not only make it impossible to have any insight into your own true nature it will also make you a fool.
“Good and bad come from your own mind. However, what do you call your own mind, apart from your actions and thoughts? Where does your mind come from? If you really know where your own mind comes from, boundless obstacles caused by your own actions will be cleared all at once. After seeing that, all sorts of extraordinary possibilities will come to you without your seeking them.”
Chán Master Dàhuì Zōnggăo

Footlessness

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Excerpt from Chuang Tzu: The Inner Chapters translated by David Hinton.

In Lu there was a man named No-Toes Elder-Mountain whose foot had been cut off. He went stumping in to see Confucius, and Confucius said to him: “You were careless. You made mistakes long ago, and you paid with your foot. So why have you come to me now?”

“Not knowing what is essential, I did something foolish with my body and lost my foot,” replied No-Toes. “That’s all. I came here today because I still possess whatever it is that considers a foot precious, and keeping that whole is essential. There’s nothing heaven doesn’t shelter, and nothing earth doesn’t bear up. I imagined you to be heaven and earth. How was I to know you would be like this?”

“That was awful of me,” said Confucius. “I’m sorry. Please, why don’t you come in and let me tell you what I’ve learned about all this?”

No-Toes turned and left.

“Be diligent,” said Confucius to his disciples after No-Toes had left. “This No-Toes is a footless cripple, but for him the essential thing was learning and overcoming his failings. So you whose Integrity remains whole – image what you can do.”

Later on, No-Toes was talking with Lao Tzu and said, “This Confucius – he still hasn’t reached realization, has he? He studied humbly with you, and what good did it do him? He’s still chasing the shifty deceits, the strange illusion of praise and renown. But once you’ve reached realization, such things are a tangle of fetters – doesn’t he know that?”

“Why don’t you just show him that life and death are one and the same strand,” asked Lao Tzu, “that sufficient and insufficient are one and the same thread? That should shake those fetters loose and set him free, don’t you think?”

“Heaven is punishing him,” replied No-Toes. “No one can set him free.”


Transpersonal is . . .

Cosmic Tree

“. . .transpersonal psychology is the disciplined study of behaviors and experiences that appear to transcend those hypothetical constructs associated with individual identities and self-concepts, as well as their developmental antecedents, and the implications of these behaviors and experiences for education, training, and psychotherapy” (Krippner, 1998).

 

Beyond ego, beyond I-Me-My / i me my, beyond beyond.

 

 


Hawk

It was his scream that caught my attention.

So far away, up there. . .

Only the white underbelly spoke its name,

looking for snakes and rodents

Until the man scared me away and I fled

Peace in favor of distraction.

 

–Lightning Heart


More complex

 

Reality is more complex than we would like.

If we insist upon it making sense,

We will find ourselves despairing.

Reality cannot be neatly packaged. . .

Reality is all that is, and that is often at odds

With what we imagine it should be.

–Rabbi Yannai, an early Jewish sage