Tag Archives: meditation
A poem by Lightning Heart
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,
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
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?
“Creativity and ego cannot go together. If you free yourself from the comparing and jealous mind, your creativity opens up endlessly. Just as water springs from a fountain, creativity springs from every moment.
“You must not be your own obstacle. You must not be owned by the environment you are in. You must own the environment, the phenomenal world around you. You must be able to freely move in and out of your mind. THIS is being free.
“There is no way you can’t open up your creativity. There is no ego to speak of. This is my belief.” — Jeong Kwan, Buddhist monk (nun)
(Reprinted with permission from Ven. Dr. Wonji Dharma, Zen Master FMZO.)
Five precepts for living
“1. Welcome everything, push away nothing. My teacher Zen Master Seung Sahn was quite fond of saying, “Put it all down,” which was his way of saying “welcome everything, push away nothing.” In Zen we also say things like; “live in the moment” or “be mindful.” Pema Chödron, who is a teaching lineage holder of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, says it from the opposite perspective, “Abandon all hope.” This means to give up our ideas that things will change other than what they are. Abandon the idea that the outcome of a given situation is other than what it is, right now. Face this life with full awareness. Suzuki Rōshi once said something to the effect of: “it’s like going to a restaurant for lunch, and when your lunch is served you say to yourself, ‘I shouldn’t have come to this restaurant, I should have gone to some other restaurant. This restaurant is not so good.’ The truth of this situation is that we can only be here now. I still have a little card my first psychology professor gave me from a class on “transactional analysis” I took in 1980 which says, “Even if you don’t like the way it is, it still is the way it is.”
“2. Bring your whole self to the experience. This means to live our lives with our whole bodies and souls. To be completely present and to pay attention to ourselves as much as we pay attention to others. We have to feel ourselves in each situation, feel our own tension, our own fear, our own apprehension. We need to love ourselves in each moment, especially in times of stress and anxiety. If we pay attention to our inner self we can relax into the moment and it will be easier to be present.
“3. Don’t wait. Waiting implies something is going to happen by itself. It also implies that perhaps it can be done in the future. The reality that Buddha taught was that the only moment we have is now. Krishnamurti, who was one of the greatest sage’s of the twentieth century, talked a lot about this point. He said, “We delude ourselves in thinking that we can change some behavior in the future. It is through our discursive thinking that change can happen in the future. The only moment we have to change anything is now.”
“4. Find the place of rest, in the middle of things. This means that we must find that place of calm in the middle of the storm. The storm of our lives, the storm of work, the storm of getting our kids ready for school, the storm of someone who is close to us that is dying. It means that within each activity we can find a place of peace and then we can see the truth for what it is.
“5. Cultivate don’t know mind. Suzuki Roshi called this beginners mind. In the mind of the beginner possibilities are endless, in the mind of the expert, possibilities are few. An ancient once said, “Not knowing is most intimate.” This is being here without expectation or idea. This is our essential practice.”
–Ven. Dr. Wonji Dharma, Zen Master FMZO
“Zen means understanding your true self. “What am I?” That is a very important question: What is the one pure and clear thing? If you find the one pure and clear thing, you will have freedom from life and death. How is it possible to attain freedom from life and death? First, it is necessary that your direction becomes clear; if your direction is clear, then your life is clear. Why do you practice Zen? Why do you eat every day? You must find that!
“Put it all down –your opinion, your condition, and your situation. Moment to moment just do it. Then there’s no subject, no object, no inside, no outside. Inside and outside already become one. Then your direction and my direction, your action and my action are the same. . .
“Most people understand too much. This understanding cannot help your life. Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” So “I” makes “I.” If you are thinking, then what? Even if you have a big experience, if you cannot attain the one pure and clear thing, then all your understanding and experience cannot help your practice. Therefore Zen practice is not about understanding. Zen means only go straight, don’t know. “
–Zen Master Seung Sahn, The Whole World is a Single Flower
Chief Seattle’s Letter
“The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the dew in the meadow, the body heat of the pony, and man all belong to the same family.The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water, but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you our land, you must remember that it is sacred. Each glossy reflection in the clear waters of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water’s murmur is the voice of my father’s father.The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children. So you must give the rivers the kindness that you would give any brother.If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life that it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also received his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers.Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.One thing we know: our God is also your God. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator.Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted with talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is to say goodbye to the swift pony and then hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.When the last red man has vanished with this wilderness, and his memory is only the shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, will these shores and forests still be here? Will there be any of the spirit of my people left?We love this earth as a newborn loves its mother’s heartbeat. So, if we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it. Care for it, as we have cared for it. Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you receive it. Preserve the land for all children, and love it, as God loves us.As we are part of the land, you too are part of the land. This earth is precious to us. It is also precious to you.One thing we know – there is only one God. No man, be he Red man or White man, can be apart. We ARE all brothers after all.”