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Archive for October, 2008

CASE 19–NANSEN’S “ORDINARY MIND IS THE WAY”

Joshu asked Nansen, “What is the Way?” “Ordinary mind is the Way.” Nansen replied. “Shall I try to seek after it?” Joshu asked. “If you try for it, you will become separated from it,” responded Nansen. “How can I know the Way unless I try for it?” persisted Joshu. Nansen said, “The Way is not a matter of knowing or not knowing. Knowing is a delusion, not knowing is confusion. When you have really reached the Way beyond doubt, you will find it as vast and boundless as outer space. How can it be talked about on the level of right and wrong?” With these words, Joshu came to a sudden realization.

The ordinary Way is samadhi, it is peace of mind. When you are in samadhi, you are simply in samadhi, there is no searching after the Way, It is an experience, not a conceptual understanding. Samadhi is vast and boundless and beyond right and wrong.

– THE LITTLE BOOK OF ZEN: THE GATELESS GATE –

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Whatever arises, train again and again in looking at it and seeing it for what it is without calling it names, without hurling rocks, without averting your eyes. Let all those stories go. The innermost essence of mind is without bias. Things arise and things dissolve forever and ever. That’s just the way it is.

Looking for alternatives—better sights than we see, better sounds than we hear, a better mind than we have—keeps us from realizing that we could stand with pride in the middle of our life and realize it’s a sacred mandala.

– PEMA CHODRON –

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These autumn mornings…a precious gift. Golden light; pale frost; clear sky; moisture rising. Filled with gratitude for all of my blessings, I think of Mary Oliver…

WALKING TO OAK-HEAD POND, AND THINKING OF THE PONDS I WILL VISIT IN THE NEXT DAYS AND WEEKS

What is so utterly invisible
as tomorrow?
Not love,
not the wind,
not the inside of stone.
Not anything.
And yet, how often I’m fooled-
I’m wading along
in the sunlight-
and I’m sure I can see the fields and the ponds shining
days ahead-
I can see the light spilling
like a shower of meteors
into next week’s trees,
and I plan to be there soon-
and, so far, I am
just that lucky,
my legs splashing
over the edge of darkness,
my heart on fire.
I don’t know where
such certainty comes from-
the brave flesh
or the theater of the mind-
but if I had to guess
I would say that only
what the soul is supposed to be
could send us forth
with such cheer
as even the leaf must wear
as it unfurls
its fragrant body, and shines
against the hard possibility of stoppage-
which, day after day,
before such brisk, corpuscular belief,
shudders, and gives way.

– MARY OLIVER –

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Early this morning…a walk with my dear friend Sunny and our canine companion Elvis. Black Rock Forest, our personal sanctuary, vibrant with autumn. Sharp air, tasting, smelling sweet, tangy, moist. We stood in silence and watched the trees breathing. Watched a single leaf clinging, spinning, not yet willing to acknowledge gravity’s law, aging or impermanence. Our pact: Stay vibrant until we aren’t and then let go with grace.

How surely gravity’s law
strong as an ocean current
takes hold of even the smallest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing—
each stone, blossom, child—
is held in place
Only we, in our arrogance
push out beyond what we each belong to
for some empty freedom.

If we surrender
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things
because they are in God’s heart
they have never left him.

This is what the things can teach us
to fall
patiently to trust our heaviness
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.

– RILKE –

(Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God,
translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)

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Well, finally. FINALLY. I did pass the Yellow Exam at Yoga School…at last. Odd. I now realize that it’s not about attainment…it’s not about getting to the “next level.” I will still have to take the exam three times a year with fellow aspiring yogis. I have already been attending the Yellow Class and LOVING it. I will, however, get a new yellow shirt.

You might ask, what is it about? At best, it’s about non-attachment. It’s about non-achievement. It’s about letting go on a grand scale. It’s about no-mind. It’s about flexibility. It’s about center. It’s about breath and no thought. It’s about balance. It’s about focus and concentration. Steady practice. More steady practice brings results.

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So many great things come in small packages. This little package weighs less than twenty pounds. It’s jolly, wiggly, curious and fearless!

For my birthday, I was wishing that I could see Dashiell. I was busily planning a trip to Los Angeles–checking tickets on Orbitz–when Sara informed me that November would be a better time to visit. She said that she and Sean were planning to celebrate their anniversary and her birthday by spending time at Big Sur. Undaunted, I made plans for November…secretly sad; missing my little package.

Surprise parties bring out the inner liar in everyone…I have to say, the people around me did a stellar job of avoidance, omission, withholding, and flat out deception. Some over the phone, some to my face. I think the best was this…after spending an afternoon with my friends Kathleen and Shamim, I got in my car, checked my cell phone and noticed that Sara had called. Her message was that Dashiell wanted to do an “iChat.” When I returned the call, she said, “Oh, I’m outside with Dashy–just call me on my cell phone when you’re ready, I might not hear the house phone.” When I pulled in my driveway, I had one thing on my mind–race upstairs, turn on my MAC. Imagine my shock when after the surprise of the surprise party registered, my favorite little package came down the stairs to greet me.

I can never get enough of this little package and now that he’s here, I have to stay on the planet at least until I reach 100. That way, he’ll be 40 and maybe have a few kids of his own. I am his Nana and he is my great joy!

PS Photo credit to Dashiell’s mom, Sara

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Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
that’s how the light gets in.

–  LEONARD COHEN –

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