Trees and footprints.

Trees in the woods

Trees in the woods

In the woods, tress grow and decay away. The river flows downhill and the moss hugs tight.

Does the Dharma exist here? How could it? How could it not?

When we walk, our feet come down with each step to meet the Earth below, so much so as the Earth rises to our foot, which doesn’t move.

The Universe moves to guide us as much so as we move within it.

 

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Teamwork

Leaf-cutting ants, working as a team.. Whose team are you on?

Leaf-cutting ants, working as a team.. Whose team are you on?

We are all involved in teamwork….Sometimes we are willing team members, sometimes not so willing… sometimes we are good teammates, and sometimes not so good….

So what teams are we on? Well, we can define ourselves on whichever teams we want to be! lol. I am in the team ‘democrat’, I am in the team ‘Republican’. I am in the team ‘Libertarian’. Those are political teams. I am in the team ‘hippy’, I am in the team ‘metal-head’, etc, etc…

It doesn’t really matter. In fact, aligning with any team, any collection of teams, divides us from others, and inherently creates division and separation. It creates thoughts of one being superior to another team. It is this reasoning why the late, great, Toni Packer said she wasn’t a Buddhist. Saying ‘I am Buddhist’ creates an unnessary division. The historical Buddha didn’t say he was Buddhist! lol.

I tend to not tell people I am Buddhist for this reason. It also creates immediate stereotypes and prejudices of what that means, whether good or bad. The same reason I do not tell people I am vegetarian. Why do they need to know? It comes up if someone is going to cook me a meal, and also may come up through natural conversation. If someone asks me why I am vegetarian, or why I am Buddhist, I usually give a very simple answer like ‘oh, many reasons…. the Buddha was a human being and seemed to figure out things really well, and I don’t eat meat for many reasons, like environmental, animal welfare, religious, etc’. I never defend my positions, and I never go into much detail… unless someone is truly interested. I am not a great Buddhist, nor a great vegetarian… I mean, i never eat meat, but perhaps I should be a vegan if I care so much about animal welfare and the environment… .I don’t meditate everyday and I havent taken the precepts.

Anyhow, where was I going with this rambling? Ah, yes, teamwork… we are all team mates on the team of the Universe! Hey, it’s true! If you accept the big bang theory to be true, then all that exists, ALL that exists, ever has existed and ever will exist, was once just one thing, without separation. So, we are all simply facets of that whole. Good, bad, ugly, pretty…. we are all on the same team. Team Universe!

When we act using this thought behind our actions, amazing things happen… the Universe rises up with us, and it says “hey, welcome back teammate, let’s get to work!”

The dance.

Who is your master?

Does this butterfly make you happy?

Does this butterfly make you happy?

If we are driving, and someone cuts us off… Do we get angry?
If we are driving, and we see a rainbow over the lush hills… Do we get happy?
Who is the master here?
The driver who cut us off? Do we feel they made us angry?
The rainbow? Do we feel its beauty made us happy?
Bad things happen, good things happen. Do they master us?
Do we hold onto the anger of the driver who cut us off? Do we keep thinking about it, replaying it in our heads, projecting visions of them getting pulled over by the police.. or worse even?
Do we hold onto the beauty of the rainbow? Do we keep thinking about it, replaying it in our heads, projecting visions of how to find more of them, wishing we had our camera to hand?
In many ways, our external world is our master, and this can be dangerous, regardless if we suffer from this mastering (like the anger) or if we benefit from this mastering (like the happiness). The anger could be thought of like a dirty jail cell.. we are not free and in a bad place, whereas the happiness could be thought of as a gilded cage, though beautiful, the bird is never free.
Now, we can try to acknowledge this and also understand that although we may not be able to control what happens to us, we can control how we react to what happens to us. This, I feel, is a very important transition to make.. It is much healthier to feel as we are our own master than to have the Universe master over ourselves. It can be very empowering and good.
In Zen, ultimately, however, there is no master, as the duality of ‘ourselves’ vs. everything not-ourselves is illusionary. The distinction can be a useful tool, yes, and we evolved to have this tool of self- realization as it has aided survival. That said, there is no separateness between ‘ourselves’ and all that exists, the Universe. When this is realized, and not just understood with our brains, then a wonderful dancing emerges, naturally, from the underlying functions of the ‘Universe’ and ‘ourselves’…

So, let’s first become our own master, then when we do, let’s let it fall away, then we can be truly free.

How hard do you try?

Water not trying very hard.

Water flows downhill without trying.

Clouds form and disappear without trying.

Monkeys try to jump from tree to tree… without trying…

Does that make sense?

How can we try to do something without trying? Is it possible? What does it mean?

It means there are two types of ‘trying’. One that is effortless, just the natural flow of things, letting the Universe unfold as it does. The other is with effort. “I tried so hard to focus on my breathing”. This type of trying exists only when our ego-mind exists, when our heart-minds are thought of as being separate from all things. This illusion of duality makes this type of trying exist. It makes things difficult! Lol.

I think a little green creature called Yoda once said ‘ No try, just do’ or something similar…. Not to downplay the importance of this by quoting popular culture, but there is truth there. But I would say perhaps ‘Just try, without trying!’. Lol. (Did you read that in Yoda’s voice?! haha)

When the illusion of duality is transcended, there is no-one who remains to ‘try’, just the Universe unfolding, just a boy jumping from a tree branch to another branch… Sometimes the boy falls and breaks a leg, sometimes he safety jumps to the other branch…. it is all simply the natural unfolding, the natural function of this Universe.

The Green Flash – At Last!

Well, serendipitous-ness again! I was only just thinking about the Sun’s green flash a couple days ago… wondering if my childhood memory of a ‘fact’ was real or not.. and then I stumbled upon this blog! BAM! The Universe green flashed my brain!

The Amazing Sky

The Green Flash (Nov 15, 2013) from Barbados

At last, I enjoyed a successful attempt to capture the elusive green flash.

During three weeks at sea attempts almost every evening from the ship to sight the green flash always failed, as the Sun set behind low horizon cloud.

But this night, the Sun set into the ocean with a clear horizon. My location was a small public oceanside walkway on Bay Street near Bridgetown, Barbados. It was a great spot to watch the sunset, though our main purpose for stopping there was to pick up some fried chicken at the KFC just steps away!

But the imminent sunset under ideal conditions made it worthwhile sticking around to see if we (I was with two friends from Alberta) could sight the green flash.

We did! I shot a rapid fire sequence – the image above is one frame of many catching the last bit of the Sun remaining above the…

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Helping

We are always teaching..and always being taught

We are always teaching..and always being taught

We are always teaching, regardless if we realize this or not. Sometimes we are being good teachers, sometimes not so good. People, animals, and the world are all our students, so we should act accordingly. They say Santa is always watching, so best to be good! lol.

I have been recently installing a new kitchen in my house and my son was eager to help. I wouldn’t let him, as it was too dangerous. As this project was more than a one day job, my wife came home with a toy drill so he could ‘help’ papa! Fantastic! But noisy! I don’t know why I fixed the battery connection! lol. Well, i do know, when I got that drill working, he was so happy, so eager to help!

During a break, I saw him as is shown in the photo above. He had seen me drilling into the walls to attach the units and using the vacuum at the same time. (Anyone who has drilled into masonary inside, knows that vacuuming as you go makes cleaning up so much better!). So, he had his drill, which isn’t really visible in the photo, and the vacuum and was helping!

So, i was teaching him without realizing it. Isn’t this what parents do all the time? We are teaching simply by living… through the example of our daily lives. But this always extends to everyone, everything…And, just all things are our students, we are all things’ student. The dance of interaction with the Universe. My son taught me quite a bit by his helping, and I am grateful!

The Shirts We Wear….

What shirt suits you?

What shirt suits you?

Some shirts are too big for us, some are too small…

Some are too colorful, some are too drab…

Some are long sleeved, some are short…

Some have buttons, some don’t…

Some are thin, some are thick…

Some have pockets, some are pocketless…

Some have collars, some don’t…

Some are worn for style, some are worn for warmth..

You get the picture..

I feel as though this is how Religions are… They all point towards Truth… to figuring out ultimate Truth… Regardless if it is Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Paganism, Islam, Shamanism…etc..

Sometimes a person wears the wrong shirt and gets further from the Truth. Sometimes this person will realize this and condemn that shirt..and throw it away and talk bad of it. Sometimes someone else will walk by and pick that shirt up and it is perfect for them!… and the Truth reveals itself.

So, it is important to not judge another’s shirt but, however, it is very important to judge one’s own shirt! Are you wearing the best shirt for yourself? Sometimes changing shirts can be the best thing to do. Sometimes wearing no shirt is the best thing to do!

Does your shirt fit you well? Maybe you need to add some buttons, or take away a pocket that holds too much junk? Maybe you need to pretend to be in a clothes shop, and just try on some other shirts and see what they are like, without prejudging what Truth you may realzie…. Maybe it will be possible to see Truth in any shirt you wear, or don’t wear… As Truth is everywhere, in everything, and nothing is exempt.

Be a lamp unto yourself and see what shirt best fits you… life is too short to be ill-equipped… make sure you are properly dressed for this occasion called Life!!

Meditative vision

In the shadows, Bodhidharma lurks.

In the shadows, Bodhidharma lurks.

In the darkened room, the incense billows and chanting fills the air. A tiger appears, or is it a man, all that is seen are eyes, huge eyes, peering around a corner, straight into my eyes, my brain, my mind, then into my heart.

Surprise, then almost anger, perhaps contempt, then, is that fear?

Surprise of my unexpected presence.

Anger for being in their space without permission.

Contempt for not going through the stages to allow access.

Fear, for that all fades away and here I am, before the tiger, the dragon, the man… who is this? What is this? What is this that protects this monastery? Is that even what this place is? Where is this place? Is it even really here?

Then after fear, acceptance, and chanting consumes the air and smoke clouds all sight… expect in the corner, inconspicuous, a tiny Buddha statue stares at the unfolding seen.

I bow, the tigerman bows and the buddha rings some bells.

The bells remain deadly still and our heads vibrate with the cosmos.

Rebirth; Part 2

looking into my heart

looking into my heart

Last time, I talked about rebirth and I rambled a bit. The reason I have been thinking of rebirth recently is multi faceted, although it mainly rests on two recent major events in my life. One horrible, and one fantastic.

My uncle passed away last month and this really sent me into deep mourning. He was someone very special in my life. He was a very intelligent scientist, a chemistry professor and the associate vice president of research at a major American university. I always held him in my mind as a model, a role model really. He was not just smart, but also wise. He always had this humorous glint of excited wonder in his eyes. He always seemed to be thrilled to be involved in this process we call life. I always had such admiration and respect for him. I miss him dearly.

This past week, my wife and I welcomed the birth of our second child, a baby girl. Did she choose us as parents? Where did she come from? Who was she before? Was she anything before? Does it matter? I feel an instant deep thankfulness and gratefulness for her entering into my life. Her older brother has been over the moon. He is three and has been truly in love with her. It is so beautiful. My daughter, being over 5 weeks premature is still in hospital, but doing very well. My son, wife and I were in a family room, about 25 feet from our daughter when my son heard a baby cry. He stopped what he was doing and ran to her yelling ‘my baby, my baby’ ever so concerned she was in distress! How proud a parent I am, I cannot express! I have to say, it wasn’t even my daughter who was crying but someone else’s baby!

So, I will keep this short, but perhaps we all can have an open and honest discussion with our true selves as to where we all were before we were born? Were we a human? a dog? a tree? a rock? or just simply nothing but random atoms and molecules that come together via genetic coding? Open and honest with ourselves… what do we know, how do we know it? What does our answer mean? Can the answer be refined and expanded? Can we probe deeper into our honesty? Earlier this evening my son was explaining that a huge snake had died and now has become a dog! Where this came from, I do not know, but it is interesting!

My baby’s past has become her future but what exists here and now is my unrelenting love for her in the present.