Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sitting with the Rain

Rain sweeps away filth
From all I see before me,
Polluting my Mind.

Friday, September 26, 2008

This is Not Haiku

Whatever you think,
Rest assured that you are wrong:
This is not haiku.

When Here and There Appear

Chanting in the attic above
Leaves the Temple empty below.
When the Teacher is lost,
Will the Master be found?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wisdom Seen Elsewhere: Merton on Lao Tzu

On the contrary, [Lao Tzu] is trying to preach a doctrine which to Westerners seems oversubtle: that the reality of humanity and righteousness is right there in front of your nose if only you will practice them without self-conscious reflection, or self-congratulation, and without trying to explain and justify your acts by ethical theory. In other words, reflection and self-consciousness are what begin the vitiation of true moral activity, according to Lao Tzu. As soon as man becomes aware of doing good and avoiding evil, he is no longer perfectly good. Ethical rationalization makes possible that schizoid division between words and acts, between thoughts and deeds, which (as Hamlet well knew) finally reduces honest activity to complete helplessness, or else lays the way open for political or religious crooks to do all the evil they like in the name of "righteousness."

Thomas Merton in Mystics and Zen Masters (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, NYC, NY. 1967. Page 49.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On Doing What is Right

If a person of strong character firmly believes he is in the right, he will be willing to stand alone against all opposition and do what he believes is right without compromise, even at his own peril.

Many stories are told and retold that have this underlying premise. The protagonist is celebrated as a hero and the antagonists are reviled. Even many stories of martyrs and saints follow this formula. We should all strive to this level of commitment when tested, no?

Oddly, history is replete with tragedies and horror stories that follow precisely this same formula, yet somehow we fail to recognize them as the same. Consider this exchange:

I heard that if you attack with the intent of helping another see the errors of his ways rather than ego, control, or fear, then the attack comes from a good place.
Tomás de Torquemada?

Would we doubt the sincerity of the Grand Inquisitor's faith and belief that what he was doing was right and just? Would we doubt that Hitler believed he was doing the right thing? Do not even suicide victims believe they are doing what is best?

Why do you do what you do? In what is your sense of right and wrong rooted? Is it from a sense of Faith? Justice? Patriotism? Nationalism? Political affiliation? Company employment? Contractual obligation? Tradition? Custom? Honor? Even the simple need to be seen as the one in the right?

Right and wrong are a cloud cut in two, a layer of thought around a layer of concept.

So when you act, who is driving your body? Is it You, or have you surrendered it to an Ideal?

Doing what is Right,
You are already so Wrong.
How can you survive?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Conversation: "We have seen the Enemy, ..."


"Remember - directly attacking bad guys (war) means they win because we become them. So, how do we get the riveted attention of the bad guys and make them think twice?"


Looking forward, seeing one on the other side,
Shouting, his voice annoys you.
How will you get his attention,
Not recognizing the back of your own head?

"Yeh. That's what I said."

"Ah, good: The two of you agree on something!"

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Rivers never move.
Mountains flow like the Rivers.
Waiting is not Still.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Wisdom Seen Elsewhere: Projection

I would not have thee believe in what I say nor trust in what I do -- for my words are naught but thy own thoughts in sound and my deeds thy own hopes in action.
From: Khalil Gibran's The Madman, "My Friend."

We were never sure if Grandma kept fresh batteries in her hearing aids or if she simply turned them down and did not think the conversation was worth re-engaging them. Regardless, when confronted about paying attention to a conversation, she would state simply and emphatically,

"I hear what I want to hear!"

When happy, we see beauty in everything. When angry, we see irritation everywhere. When in love, we see passion. Police see suspicious behavior. Citizens see corruption. Friends see enemies. Zealots see zealots.

When, instead of seeing and hearing clearly, you interpret, what is it that you are really seeing or hearing?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wisdom Seen Elsewhere: Who is Speaking? Who is Acting?

Elder's Meditation of the Day - September 3

"Once you have achieved this oneness, when you talk, God talks; when you act, God acts."
--Chuck Ross, LAKOTA

In my innermost self, I know this to be true. I know of this oneness. The more I am free of doubt, jealousy, judgment, selfishness, anger, the closer I am to this oneness. When I am right with the Creator, nothing can touch me. When I am right with the Creator I always say the right things. When I am right with the Creator, my thoughts are always good. When I am right with the Creator, my actions are always good.

Great Spirit, remove from me those things that block me from You. Allow me this day to experience the oneness.

From: Walks with Thunder

Koan for the Argumentative

The Tzar for Matters of Argument is bound and hangs precariously from a rope by his teeth. A passerby asks the Tzar, "You cannot help but argue, can you?" If he does not respond, he will be executed for not doing his duty; if he does, he falls to his death.

How can the Tzar survive?