Category Archives: Meditation

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
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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.”


Tranquilized

Poem of the Day: Advertisement

BY WISŁAWA SZYMBORSKA
I’m a tranquilizer.
I’m effective at home.
I work in the office.
I can take exams
on the witness stand.
I mend broken cups with care.
All you have to do is take me,
let me melt beneath your tongue,
just gulp me
with a glass of water.
I know how to handle misfortune,
how to take bad news.
I can minimize injustice,
lighten up God’s absence,
or pick the widow’s veil that suits your face.
What are you waiting for—
have faith in my chemical compassion.
You’re still a young man/woman.
It’s not too late to learn how to unwind.
Who said
you have to take it on the chin?
Let me have your abyss.
I’ll cushion it with sleep.
You’ll thank me for giving you
four paws to fall on.
Sell me your soul.
There are no other takers.
There is no other devil anymore.
Wislawa Szymborska, “Advertisement” from Poems New and Selected. Copyright © 1998 by Wislawa Szymborska.  Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Source: Poems New and Collected(Harcourt Inc., 1998)

WISŁAWA SZYMBORSKA

Biography
More poems by this author

Retrieved and reposted by Poetry Foundation website.


The White Orchid

A poem by Lightning Heart

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The White Orchid

Remember when you offered it to me,

It was after Shiva touched my shoulders and

Sent seizures through blood, skin, and bone

You came with a lion’s mouth and nose, stringy haired,

Downed in frayed gossamer.

I would not accept it at first out of

Fear for what it meant

 

Dew lived on its petals, even in the desert

Its yellow mouth, frozen in a seductive smile

They say never to accept an orchid

If it is in bloom,

Something about shocking its system,

Stagnating its growth

 

Then again, I’ve never been a rule-follower

Now that it is here, I stare at it,

Obsessively,

Especially that face–

like butterfly wings suspended on a corkboard

 

only the pin does not kill it,

for there is no pin

Not this time.

The clay pot is too small

It has to break someday

when tubers burst through

. . .or better yet. . .

When they devour the pot with new life

 

–a poem by Lightning Heart


Top of the Mountain

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I hiked at Phoenix Mountain Preserve on Good Friday with quail, lizards, saguaro, and chipmunks. At the top of the mountain I sat on the ground and waited for nothing.

A man and his two children –teenager and a tween—soon arrived.

What did they say when the reached the top of the mountain?

“Nice job, buddy,” the man told his son. “Alright, we’ll chill for a minute.”

They posed for photos of themselves against the cityscape: selfies, group shots, never turning to view the side that held no streets. What did they capture inside their camera?

I heard the flies buzz, felt the sand against my palms.

“Okay, let’s go down, we’re done,” said the man after three minutes.

A middle-aged couple soon came to the top.

“Is this it?” said the woman, disappointed. She searched for a higher point, found it, and led her husband to the next crest. I watched them climb and once they reached that peak, they immediately turned for the descent.

What did they find at the top of the mountain? More rocks and sand perhaps. Something they climbed for, but could not name and could not touch; something always there, but unseen, untouched, unheard, un-experienced by sleepwalkers.

What do you find at the top of the mountain?


Teaching of Jane’s Bamboo

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In Paradise Valley I have a neighbor named Jane. Jane’s bamboo plants creep into my patio area, dropping dead leaves onto my rock garden.

Each week I clean the dead leaves from the rock garden; sometimes twice a week, sometimes more.

Within half an hour after each cleaning, a slight breeze blows and more dead leaves fall from Jane’s bamboo.

Jane’s bamboo carries a great teaching about the impermanence of all things.


Captive of linguistics

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“The core teaching of the Buddha always has been that all things are dependently arisen, hence fundamentally devoid of any independently lasting substance. All that’s happening in the phenomenal world is an interplay of form and energy that creates a transitory phenomenon in time and space. In our ignorance, we continue to interpret this interplay as real-in-itself. Moreover, as captives of linguistic formulations we even interpret our conceptual thinking to represent something real.”

–from Mu Seong’s The Heart of the Universe


Maya – Illusion


Nothing softer than water

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Much water imagery lately, in journeying as well as meditation; in dreams as well as in synchronicities of everyday life. What does it all mean? In the wise words of an old man by the fire, “It doesn’t mean anything.” Reading the Teachings from the Huainanzi today, this was the message:

“Of all the things in the world, nothing is softer than water. Water is accommodating and yielding, but its depth cannot be plumbed and its boundaries cannot be measured. Rising to the sky, it becomes rain and mist. Falling to the earth, it becomes springs and underground lakes. Life cannot exist without water, and crops cannot be cultivated without it. Water benefits all and has no favorites. It nourishes the smallest insect and the largest mammal and does not expect gratitude. It enriches the world and does not begrudge those who use it.

“Water is soft yet strong. Strike it, and it cannot be injured. Pierce it, and it cannot be punctured. Grasp it, and it cannot be held. Its strength can wear down stone and metal. Its sustenance can nourish the whole world. It can float in the sky as clouds, squeeze through narrow valleys as streams, and spread across wide-open plains as lakes. It takes from the earth and gives back to the earth. Unbiased and nonjudgmental, it does not have notions of first and last and does not distinguish between us and them. Everything is equal in its eyes. Separating and merging, it blends with its surroundings and is at one with the sky and the earth. Not conforming to the left or the right, it can be straight or meandering. Not restrained by space and time, it can be present at the beginning and the end of all things.”

-teachings from the Huainanzi, The Natural Way, translated by Eva Wong

It means nothing. It means everything. Such is the Dao.

–Cheolshim Prajna


Premature Enlightenment