Friday, June 18, 2021

Return to the Garden

So engrossed with my company, it would be wrong to say that the rest of the world faded away ~ or that it ever existed at all. Yet there we were, in plain view, neither seeking to be seen nor offering performance, yet center stage in an exhibition of any passerby's own making.

It is not wrong to say that there is bliss found in surrender, but this "bliss" may take many forms including pain, suffering, disgrace, debasement, or humiliation. These forms are only experienced, however, when we fall from the state of complete surrender and its accompanying grace.

To what do you surrender that frees you from yourself?

Where were you before you realized you were naked in the garden and suddenly felt shame?
 
Alas, you cannot return to the garden ~ the path only takes you further away ~ nor can you never have left in the first place.

Only surrender and know what it is to be neither clothed nor naked.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Read it Again, and Act Accordingly

No matter what you read, you will know what it means and you will act accordingly.

No matter what you hear, you will know what it means and you will act accordingly.

No matter what you see, you will know what it means and you will act accordingly.

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.

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And someday, you may revisit all of what you read, what you heard, what you saw, ..., 

... and you will know what it really meant

... and you will act accordingly.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Action & Response, Decisive & Spontaneous

6 a.m., two weeks prior to the summer solstice. The sky has been bright for 20 minutes already, the the cicada are in an ambient roar.

On the patio, I hear a rattling buzz ~ a lone cicada's "Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!" It's on its back beneath the patio table ~ legs twitching, wings rattling ~ and I wonder: Does the bug need help in righting itself, or maybe this is the the struggle before it frees itself from its carapace? Maybe these were its death throes, or maybe it's the moment before a hungry bluejay or cardinal makes it so? Who knows?

A moment before I would rise from my chair, it righted itself and awkwardly fluttered away.

Now, tell me what you see?

Is the question an invitation to open your senses and to share what you experience? Or perhaps it's a zen exercise ~ a trap! if it was anyone but me asking ~ or if you read the words on some other blog ~ would the question be easier to answer? How about If I extend my hand? Do you see pleasantries? An offer of friendship? Do you see the hakama and the mats and hear "Grab my wrist..."? Do you see what is in my hand being offered? Or do you see it is empty, open to accept?

The foxglove is cascading downward by the fence line ~ the joe-pye on the mound is tall but not yet ready to flower. The sun, a few degrees higher, burns through the trees, while under the table another cicada tumbles to a landing.

Happy Sunday. Time for coffee.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

The Coffee Quarterly

The universe is the way it is because you are the way you are. So, how will the universe change if you change?

It's a harsh assertion, no? And taken to heart, it can weigh heavily. Just read the news. What does it mean to say that what you see is your own making?

A few years ago, I bumped into an old friend in the coffee shop. We'd lost touch probably a few years before. She was there with another friend, so we agreed we should meet and catch up soon. 

And we did. Catching up was amazing ~ sharing about ourselves, our kids, our spouses, our work, ... A few hours in that same coffee shop later, we departed with the agreement to meet again ~ maybe in a few months.

And we did. It became a quarterly thing, more or less. Sometimes is was six months or more, but the rhythm was generally a coffee quarterly ~ a few hours in the shop chatting before continuing with the day.

And with all finely ingrained habits, however long the rhythm, one's body and mind knows: "I've been thinking about you!" "Me too! Is it that time?" "I'm free next Tuesday. Same place & time?"

And it occurred to me, subtly, that though she was always happy to see me, wasn't it I who always initiated contact? I wondered, what would happen if I didn't...

And I didn't consciously not make contact... but I didn't. And no one contacted me. That time passed, and then a pandemic did as well.

And occasionally I wonder: Is the universe the way it is because I am the way that I am... because we all are the way we are?

The universe is happy to meet us where we are, to answer any question we may have ~ but the answer? That's inside us too. Where is the separation? What is the difference? Do we recognize what we see?

So wherever and whenever I sit with a cup of coffee, I sit there with the universe however it appears. If I have a question, I'm sure the answer is there ~ I may just have to squint my eyes and tilt my head a bit to recognize it, but it's there. And if I have no question? Who knows ~ I may unwittingly be a part of someone else's answer.

Speaking of which, the body is reminding me: It's time for coffee.

The Tibetan Book of the Living Dead

Spotted elsewhere and worth a view: Here’s a Comic Book Guide to the Bardo, the Tibetan Buddhist Afterlife.

Imagine that in your final moments and in those moments that followed, your brother monks sat beside you chanting prayers and instruction to help guide you in your transition. Imagine that your circumstances were so fortunate that you've devoted years and years of your life to living among them, studying these teachings, and preparing your mind to successfully navigate the afterlife's trials. All of the time spent in deep meditation, considering the attractions, the temptations, the deceptions, the terrors, ... hearing again and again that rebirth into your next life is largely determined by your own perception of your own experience... hearing again and again that, although the challenges may grow more difficult in each subsequent bardo, there is still freedom available from this karmic wheel of life and death with just the realization...

... and imagine that, in your final moments, in spite of your own efforts and the efforts of your teachers, it was all lost. You didn't recognize the clear light. Instead, you were drawn to the shiny things or you pursued by the terrors. You met god, or maybe you met the devil. You failed to see the disguise, or maybe you saw a disguise where there was none. In those moments, you never perceive the escape from any of these circumstances, even if you do somehow remember that one is always available. Instead, you were thrashed about or maybe found bliss until you settled into your next life ~ maybe with the hope that it is a better one, or at least one that will present the ideal circumstances for you to find enlightenment and end this cycle ~ but always with the guarantee that, if you don't find that realization, there will be another... and another... and another...

On the Buddha's enlightenment, he remembered all of his past lives. The Prodigal Son returned to a feast in his father's home while his brothers pouted. Two criminals beside Jesus on the cross engaged him in different ways, with one blaspheming with a challenge reminiscent of the the devil's challenges in the desert, the other contrite ~ the later given a promise of a different outcome.

What teaching from any faith ~ or from parents, teachers, peers, or from anyone else ~ is not a teaching about the bardo? What teaching about the bardo is not simply an invitation into the bardo that emanated from the bardo? Maybe they are invitations into a new life that is more favorable to encounter the dharma, a guru, a sangha, your teachers, ... ~ who knows? Still, I suspect that there is something more to those teachings that can be understood just outside the teaching ~ don't you?

Your rebirth is imminent ~ you'll see soon enough. Good luck and godspeed, traveler...