Archive for September, 2007



Ripeness is
what falls away with ease.
Not only the heavy apple,
the pear,
but also the dried brown strands
of autumn iris from their core.

To let your body
love this world
that gave itself to your care
in all of its ripeness,
with ease,
and will take itself from you
in equal ripeness and ease,
is also harvest.

And however sharply
you are tested —
this sorrow, that great love —
it too will leave on that clean knife.



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Gratitude. Humility. Non-attachment. Beginner’s mind. Empty mind. Sometimes not so empty mind.

PENETRATING THE MOMENT: From You Have to Say Something

Dogen said we must penetrate this moment, again and again, forever. This is the most important thing we can do. There is nothing to change, nothing to hold on to, nothing to get caught by. All we have to do is constantly approach this very moment with a true heart. But this is not so easy…

…If you stand up in this moment with a true heart, immediately you will experience true affirmation of yourself as the Whole. But in the next moment, you have to let that experience go.

Letting it go is returning, once again, to this moment as it is. Then the next moment appears just as it is , and you can face it naturally, with freshness of mind. But if you don’t return to this moment, the real moment will not appear. You will just be caught up in your idea of the moment. You will never totally participate in it; you will never accept this moment as completely new. You will be stuck in your thoughts, your memories, and your preferences, which bubble up from your mind and cause you to waver…

As simply as you can, you have to just stand up in this moment and then let it go. Then you can be in this moment, and you can be in the next…So stand up in this moment and experience it totally; then just let it go. Let each new moment come up fresh, just as it is. To do this constantly is our practice.


Today we spend almost two hours in the early morning doing asanas. We take a break for two hours and then eight students begin again. We sit meditation, practicing pranayama for forty-five minutes. We warm up with push-ups, crunches, bicycle crunches, rear leg lifts. We do Sun Salutations; Warrior Forms; Temple Form…continuous movement until 2 pm. including balancing poses–Tree; One-legged Prayer Pose; Standing Bow; Extended Prayer; Moving Crane.

By 2 pm. all eight of us are exhilarated and exhausted. Three people “pass the exam;” the rest of us come close. All of us will be attending “Hatha Yellow” classes from now on. I bow in respect to Neil, John and Todd–your determination is an inspiration.

While I am determined to build physical strength (and “conquer” the Standing Bow)…while I noticed a profound difference in my capacity this time around…I know that my deeper challenge is to penetrate this moment.

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Tomorrow morning, I’ll be up early. I plan to unroll my yoga mat at 7:15 am and warm up for a proficiency exam that begins at 7:30. If all goes well, I will progress from Hatha “Orange” to Hatha “Yellow.” If all goes well, I will not progress from Hatha “Orange” to Hatha “Yellow.” The exam is demanding. Centered non-attachment is essential. Buddha smiles either way…me, too.

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The heart’s reasons
seen clearly,
even the hardest
will carry
its whip-marks and sadness
and must be forgiven.

As the drought-starved
eland forgives
the drought-starved lion
who finally takes her,
enters willingly then
the life she cannot refuse,
and is lion, is fed,
and does not remember the other.

So few grains of happiness
measured against all the dark
and still the scales balance.

The world asks of us
only the strength we have and we give it.
Then it asks more, and we give it.


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I think sometimes of the possible glamour of death –
that it might be wonderful to be
lost and happy inside the green grass –
or to be the green grass! –
or, maybe the pink rose, or the blue iris,
or the affable daisy, or the twirled vine
looping its way skyward – that I might be perfectly peaceful
to be the shining lake, or the hurrying, athletic river,
or the dark shoulders of the trees
where the thrush each evening weeps himself into an ecstasy.

I lie down in the fields of goldenrod, and everlasting.
Who could find me?
My thoughts simplify. I have not done a thousand things
or a hundred things but, perhaps, a few.
As for wondering about answers that are not available except
in books, though all my childhood I was sent there
to find them, I have learned
to leave all that behind

as in summer I take off my shoes and my socks,
my jacket, my hat, and go on
happier, through the fields. The little sparrow
with the pink beak
calls out, over and over, so simply – not to me
but to the whole world. All afternoon
I grow wiser, listening to him,
soft, small, nameless fellow at the top of some weed,
enjoying his life. If you can sing, do it. If not,

even silence can feel, to the world, like happiness,
like praise,
from the pool of shade you have found beneath the everlasting.


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(The Book of Hours, Book I, Poem 1, Stanza 1)

A certain day became a presence to me;
there it was, confronting me — a sky, air, light:
a being. And before it started to descend
from the height of noon, it leaned over
and struck my shoulder as if with
the flat of a sword, granting me
honor and a task. The day’s blow
rang out, metallic — or it was I, a bell awakened,
and what I heard was my whole self
saying and singing what it knew: I can.


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When we realize the everlasting truth of “everything changes” and find our composure in it, we find ourselves in Nirvana…Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure.


On Saturday evening, we had our autumn Gratitude Gathering…a circle of women dedicated to experiencing and expressing gratitude…a circle of women who come together to listen deeply to one another and provide support in times of challenge. It has been almost a year since our first gathering. Some of us have faced illness and treatment; some have had challenges with children, finances, parents, property, work, marriage, loss. Some of us have found new love. Some of us have discovered a renewed sense of purpose.

As we went around the circle, a common theme seemed to be that we are developing comfort with change–appreciation for the “unknown” and delight in “beginner’s mind.” We are learning to trust and to live without answers…to find our composure when and where we can…and to be relatively at ease as we fall apart and lose composure. As the seasons have changed, we have changed. The bonds of our friendship have deepened. We have grown in our capacity to accept. We are less interested in the opinions of well-meaning friends and family and more interested in living “by heart.”

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