Category Archives: Collected Wisdom

The Air Is All I Have

For those of you who are nomads at heart, this poem by Romanian writer Emilia Ivancu may speak to you.

windows-looking-through-chris-fullmer

The Air Is All I Have

I have nothing –

No place to weep,

No place to die.

Times are I fiind a corner of this world in which to sleep

But it’s never more than somewhere rented.

I can look into the hearts and homes of others

But always only through the window;

All doors are meant for those who live within.

After a time

Even when drinking tea with friends

There comes a moment when I must leave —

I don’t even trouble to say that I would like to stay

And once again I peer through the window

Smiling, though in no way embittered,

At the thought that I too could have people come to tea or

coffee.

I have nothing —

This is why I do not wish to give myself up to the earth.

Being rootless, I have reasons not to.

So you may let the wind carry me away

The air is all I have

I feel it, breathe it, but never can I touch it.

–Emila Ivancu, from Washing My Hair With Nettles, trans. by Diarmuid Johnson


Right Mind

righ left brain“The Right Mind is the mind that does not remain in one place. It is the mind that stretches throughout the entire body and self.

“The Confused Mind is the mind that, thinking something over, congeals in one place.

“When the Right Mind congeals and settles in one place, it becomes what is called the Confused Mind. When the Right Mind is lost, it is lacking in function here and there. For this reason, it is important not to lose it.

“In not remaining in one place, the Right Mind is like water. The Confused Mind is like ice, and ice is unable to wash hands or head. When ice is melted, it becomes water and flows everywhere, and it can wash the hands, the feet, or anything else.

“If the mind congeals in one place and remains with one thing, it is like frozen water and is unable to be used freely: ice that can wash neither hands nor feet. When the mind is melted and is used like water, extending throughout the body, it can be sent wherever one wants to send it.

“This is the Right Mind.”

——-From The Unfettered Mind: Writings From a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman by Takuan Soho, translated by William Scott Wilson © 2012.


If powerful people. . .

“If  powerful men and women

could remain in the Tao,

all things would be in harmony.

The world would become a paradise.

All people would be at peace,

and the law would be written in their hearts.”

Tae Te Ching


Why not believe?

Seung

“A not-moving mind gives rise to faith. When your mind is not moving, you can spontaneously believe in this world’s beauty. You can believe that this whole world is already truth. The name for that is faith. So, unlike other religions, believing in Buddha as an object of faith actually means believing in your true self. Faith means simply believing in your true self, your original nature: you are already Buddha! Then you can believe your eyes, your ears, your nose, your tongue, your body, and your mind. You believe the trees, the sky, Buddha, God – everything! Someone once asked me, “Soen Sa nim, do you believe in God?

“I said, “Of course!”

“The person was very shocked. “You are a Zen teacher. How can you possibly believe in God?

“I believe my eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind – why not believe everything? I believe this green tree, the blue sky, a barking dog, the smell of incense – why not believe in Buddha or God?”

 

–from The Compass of Zen by Zen Master Seung Sahn


Video – Illusion vs. Reality

Fascinating consciousness video.

 


The doorway: Nierika

Journey toward the doorway this year. Shed the itch of old skin, the clouds of delusion and illusion. When you arrive, walk through the door, gradually and then suddenly.

Nierka

“There is a doorway within our minds that usually remains hidden and secret until the time of death.  The Huichol word for it is nierika.  Nierika is a cosmic portway or interface between so-called ordinary and non ordinary realities.  It is a passageway and at the same time a barrier between worlds.”

–Prem Das, “Huichol Nierikaya: Journey to the Realm of the Gods.”


Birds on Selfsame Tree

yellow birds

“Like two golden birds perched on the

Selfsame tree,

Intimate friends, the ego and the Self

Dwell in the same body. The former eats

The sweet and sour fruits of the tree of life

While the latter looks on in detachment.

 

“As long as we think we are the ego,

We feel attached and fall into sorrow.

But realize that you are the Self, the Lord

Of life, and you will be freed from sorrow.

When you realize that you are the Self,

Supreme source of light, supreme source

Of love,

You transcend the duality of life

And enter into the unitive state. . .

 

“. . .The effulgent Self, who is beyond thoughts,

Shines in the greatest, shines in the smallest,

Shines in the farthest, shines in the nearest,

Shines in the secret chamber of the heart.”

 

–excerpt from Mundaka Upanishad, “Two Modes of Knowing,” Pt III.I


Right Mind – Confused Mind

confusion

“The Right Mind is the mind that does not remain in one place. It is the mind that stretches throughout the entire body and self.

“The Confused Mind is the mind that, thinking something over, congeals in one place.

“When the Right Mind congeals and settles in one place, it becomes what is called the Confused Mind. When the Right Mind is lost, it is lacking in function here and there. For this reason, it is important not to lose it.

“In not remaining in one place, the Right Mind is like water. The Confused Mind is like ice, and ice is unable to wash hands or head. When ice is melted, it becomes water and flows everywhere, and it can wash the hands, the feet, or anything else.

“If the mind congeals in one place and remains with one thing, it is like frozen water and is unable to be used freely: ice that can wash neither hands nor feet. When the mind is melted and is used like water, extending throughout the body, it can be sent wherever one wants to send it.

“This is the Right Mind.”

——-From The Unfettered Mind: Writings From a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman by Takuan Soho


The Empty Boat

Empty Boat

“He who rules men lives in confusion;

He who is ruled by men lives in sorrow.

Yao therefore desired

Neither to influence others

Nor to be influenced by them.

The way to get clear of confusion

And free of sorrow

Is to live with Tao

In the land of the great Void. . .

 

“. . .Who can free himself from achievement

And from fame, descend and be lost

Amid the masses of men?

He will flow like Tao, unseen,

He will go about like Life itself

With no name and no home.

Simple is he, without distinction.

To all appearances he is a fool.

His steps leave no trace.  He has no power.

He achieves nothing, has no reputation.

Since he judges no one

No one judges him.

Such is the perfect man:

His boat is empty.”

excerpt from “The Empty Boat” by Chuang Tzu

 

 


Universe in a brush stroke

snow leapard“When you understand yourself, it is very easy to paint or write poems or do calligraphy or tea-ceremony or karate. You paint effortlessly; you write effortlessly. Why? When you are painting or writing or doing any action, you become totally absorbed in that action. You are only painting; you are only writing. No thinking gets between you and the action. There is only not-thinking action. This is freedom.

“If you are thinking, your mind wanders away from your action, and the flow of your painting or writing will be blocked, your tea-ceremony will be still or clumsy. If you are not thinking, you are only with your action. You are the tea that you’re drinking. You are the brush that you’re painting with. Not-thinking is before thinking. You are the whole universe; the universe is you. This is Zen mind, absolute mind. It is beyond space and time, beyond the dualities of self and other; good and bad, life and death. The truth is just like this. So when a Zen person is painting, the whole universe is present in the tip of his brush.”

–Zen Master Seung Sahn