An Unlikely Friendship Chapter 4

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A rock on a log with a stick.

Click for previous chapters: 1,2,3.

Years went by after that time in the book store…..and he never actually thought about it again. That is, until one day, while he was out driving. He was speeding ,which he didn’t normally do, but he was late. As he sped down the highway, his mind was thinking about how late he might be, what he could do to mitigate the situation and the like, when.. out of nowhere…

“hello”

“Holy moly! Rock?!” He thought, and although he was asking for confirmation, he also needed none.

He just continued driving, speeding but safe, and for several minutes there was silence. Not the silence he remembered all those years ago as he could feel the rock with him and they both we simply enjoying each other’s mere presence.  Then he began to think about all these past years… how could he possibly have never thought about this all these years?  Then he thought about the last place he saw the rock… on his dresser… he knows it’s not there now, and he can’t remember moving it or seeing it… what happened to it?! Where is it right this very second?

“doesn’t much matter…. does it?”

“True I suppose but I feel like I failed you.. to protect you… to listen to you, learn from you”

He didn’t get words for an answer but felt it…. it was like a very very long, almost infinite plane of solid rock, almost humming – very deeply – very very quiet – almost beyond sound, or inside sound – the vibrations of the atoms in the air – so quiet yet almost infinitely loud. It didn’t make sense when he tried to comprehend it but when he simply felt it, he understood….. Protection is meaningless to the rock … how could the inside of a vibration need protecting?! And even that thought, he knew, failed to explain what he felt.  He also understood that he couldn’t fail the rock… how could the rock judge another’s vibrations? And it’s not even like that he thought… those vibrations…that ‘sound’ it pulses into everything ,everything is pulsing into everything .. to judge would be like snake attacking its tail…. It can be done but it’s not very helpful!

“police car”

“um huh?”

“POLICE”

He didn’t understand exactly but trusted the rock and he slowed down to the speed limit and sure enough after half a mile he saw a patrol car behind some shrubs with a radar gun.

Although he had plenty of reasons to be blown away already, this really floored him. Did he really just have an imaginary rock help him avoid a speeding ticket?!  His brain began freaking out somewhat and he couldn’t control the expanse of thoughts and hypothesis to explain this all. Nothing could explain it that didn’t involve some level of sounding completely crazy. He realized he probably shouldn’t tell anyone .. he was not even sure if he could believe himself, so how could he possibly expect anyone else to?

He tried desperately trying to talk with the rock but his brain was buzzy with so much internal noise he couldn’t hear the soundless sound anymore.  Although he kept trying, he knew the rock wasn’t going to reply to his calling out “Here rocky rock, here boy” as if he was calling a dog! But he was desperate. It was years since he last communicated with the rock and was afraid he may never again communicate with it.

He arrived a little late, which caused some issues, but nothing he didn’t sort out, but his mind the whole day was elsewhere.

Knots

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When you seek the origin of your thoughts, the origin of your being, you find that many knots that bound you become untied. Sometimes this is liberating as it yields freedoms we have long forgotten the taste of; however, sometimes this untying is terrifying as the rope that spines throughout our life becomes smooth with less and less to hold onto.

We all live in a gilded cage of one sort or another. We feel protected and safe within our cage, yet we live in our own self oppression.

The origin of ourselves…. Can it be inside the cage? We know the answer, so we may find we open the cage door and start exploring what is outside. We seek our origin, following and untying the knots on the rope as we go… We untie knot after knot and that lets us fly further and deeper….It seems like the knots will never end.

What is at the end of our rope? Is there an end? Can the knots ever end?

As long as our rope exists, one knot will always remain…. For at the very end of the rope, devoid of all knots, we discover it is tied to our minds.

What happens if we dare untie this last knot?

An Ox grazes on the lust spring grass as birds eat mites on her back.

We fall forever yet never before now have we felt the ground.

Bam!

The Universe is exploding with wonder and dleight!

The Universe is exploding with wonder and delight!

In my last post, I wrote that compassionate acts are the Way. I also wrote that acts of horrific violence are also the Way. I feel I need to ensure it is clear what I mean by that. I do not condone acts of violence. Acts of violence will not help dissolve the illusion of our ego-mind. In very practical terms, they are not the Way. However, what I was doing, was referring to the operation of the Universe. In one sense, if any actions do not violate the laws of physics, then they are the Way of the cosmos. The Way is not merely the laws of physics though.

So, what am I saying? I suppose it is all about natural function and flow. I am reminded of the following comic:

cartoon

Now, a penguins natural function is not to climb trees. It can sure as hell try, and may even get somewhere. What is a humans natural function? What is you natural function?

Now, of course, the great thing about evolution is that animals (and plants, etc) can adapt so over time, a penguin would become an excellent tree climber!* So, there is a dance. We must learn our natural function and be in tune with that, but also be open to the fact that our ‘natural function’ is empty of inherent substance. It is always in flux. So we dance with our abilities, what we have been adapted to do, along with those things we are not adapted to do and therefore sometimes we trip and fall flat on our face!

I have veered away from my point however, lol. In the end, our natural function is about allowing the Universe to flow freely through us, beyond us. Our ‘free will’ and our ‘fate’ both dissolve into meaningless…. Neither exist as the Universe flows.

When we dissolve our ego-minds, who is left to experience free will or fate? Both are illusionary traps.

I trust the Universe and the Universe trusts me, we make the best team, the natural team, its our natural function, is it not?

 

*I seem to recall that maybe there are some tree climbing penguin species down in South America’s tip perhaps. Maybe I am wrong though!

Moles in the ground turn the wheel of the Dharma

Big leaf, big wonder

Big leaf, big wonder

My son and I explored a giant leaf last year and we were mightily impressed with its size. My little guy tried to take it with him, so I explained that we didn’t need it, so lets just leave it and admire it.

Mother nature has always held a special place in my heart. I believe the late great Folk legend Pete Seeger was quoted as saying something like ‘When i am walking in the woods, I feel as though I am in church’.  I, too, get this amazing powerful, deep feeling when immersed within mother nature.

In Buddhism, we talk about ‘leaving home’. Walking in the deep woods can be ‘returning home’.

In the Oxherding pictures, we talk about ‘returning to the source’. Being enveloped, embraced, cuddled like a mother to a baby, by our Earth mother, is a powerful experience. When one is open to such an embrace, our sense of self naturally fades away and we may realize our deep faith in the interdependency and interconnectedness of all that is. These are not just airy-fairy words that sound pretty. When we allow ourselves to fall into Mother nature, allow ourselves to fall into love with Mother Nature, she always catches us, and sets us free from our own self-clinging.

Birds chirp and a branch falls, a stream trickles and a mole sleeps in his burrow. Already complete, we all are already Buddhas.

What is the opposite of opposite?

What is the opposite of this vehicle? When does the meaning of opposite become worthless? Seeing this vehicle, we compare, compare, compare it to other vehicles we already know - its not a car, not a truck, not a train, not a motorcycle - what is it?! Hey, it is what it is, just have a look without trying to name it. It is rather beautiful.

What is the opposite of this vehicle? When does the meaning of opposite become worthless? Seeing this vehicle, we compare, compare, compare it to other vehicles we already know – its not a car, not a truck, not a train, not a motorcycle – what is it?! Hey, it is what it is, just have a look without trying to name it. It is rather beautiful.

Off / On

High /Low

Back/ Front

Black /White

Many things have their opposite. What does this mean? Are things this cut and dry? Well, let’s see… if something is ‘off’, than means it is not ‘on’, and if something is ‘on’, then it is not ‘off’. Each word, each term, requires its pair to exist. For example, you may say that the lamp is on, or it is off, but you wouldn’t say this to things that don’t have the opposite….. so, for example, you wouldn’t say that the air is ‘on’… it is always on! Lol. If you did say that the air was ‘on’, this would inherently imply that it can be ‘off’. Maybe you were talking about the air conditioner! Lol.

So, there is a subtlety here, which grows even more so with words like ‘black’ and ‘white’. One part of our brains thinks of them as opposites… yet, they are not…. You can have white without black and you can have black without white. Additionally, black is the absence of light and white is the combination of all colors of light. So, perhaps black is ‘off’ and white is ‘fully on’! Maybe that makes green ‘partially on’, lol.

Certain things we try to figure out do not benefit from using our opposite-minds. The big questions, really. Like, what exists outside the Universe? If time was born during the Big Bang, what existed before then? These questions use as a foundation the notion that the pair ‘universe’ and ‘outside the Universe’ is accurate. Is this accurate? We can get into a deep semantic-al discussion over this, but if we drop that, what remains? In some ways, the term ‘Universe’ means ‘all that exists’… so in that context, it cannot have its opposite, its pair, as nothing falls outside its realm. So, if that’s true, what is wrong with our question then:  ‘What exists outside the Universe?’?  The problem with this question is that the questioner assumes it is a valid question! Lol. What do I mean? Well, if the questioner accepts the definition of the Universe as all that exists, then there is no room to think of what exists outside this! However, our minds are curious! Let’s take a peek outside the bubble of our expanding Universe.. what is it traveling into?! … Ah, so now we get into geometry really, if we begin to think of the Universe as some sort of 3-D bubble ever-expanding into space….INTO space? That’s just it… the Universe is expanding space, not expanding into space. So, our dualistic, pairing, opposite-minds clunk. They can’t work properly.

I think of it like Newton’s laws of gravity and motion…. They aren’t really correct, but they work awesome-ly when applied to motions on the Earth…. So, just like our opposite-minds, our dualistic minds work really really well in helping us to evolve and survive on Earth as humans, they fail when we try to figure out things much deeper.

So, Zen is not about banishing our dualistic mind, our ego-mind (our illusion that we are separate from everything else), but rather about not attaching to this ego-mind… letting it function in this manner when it appropriate, and letting it go when it is not.

Who/what decides when it is appropriate? Be careful!

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.

 

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.

Mercury’s dancing with my heart

Water dance

Water dance

Crystal vibrations of atomic discontent. Seeking balance, movement never ceases. 

Who creates this seeking?

Water flows downhill without hindrance.

Absolute zero still seeks balance.

Again, this seeking is created, not known, and colder than zero Kelvin gets warmer to the truth.

The Moon dances with the Earth and the Earth with the Sun. 

What is not dancing with something? with everything? 

The Buddha has danced with us all before and will again, though he only does right now. 

100 feet below the surface of Mercury, crystals vibrate and speak and dance with us all… how could it not be so?

What else does not dance? Anything that appears in our mind, is already ours, and the tango begins, yet it never stopped. We may even realize it is Mercury’s soil that asked us to dance, it always has been asking us, year after year, decade after decade and we finally hear it, and we put out our hand and tap our foot, and off we go! We are Hers!

The big Elk in the river, the giant Squid in the Ocean, the bog Fern, the boulders of the Adirondaks, the deer Tick, the moss on our roof, they all dance without confusion awaiting our turn. 

Brain map patty-whack…

Does light master the rainbow or does the rainbow master the light?

Does light master the rainbow or does the rainbow master the light?

…give the dog a bone…

The human brain is a very complex organ, sort of like a powerful computer, processing tons of information, all the time, and producing output, all the time. Yet, unlike a computer, it is always changing, with neurons, brain cells, changing in shape, in length, in function. It is how ‘practice makes perfect’. Each time something is practiced, whether swinging a golf club, writing your name with your non-usual hand, learning a language, your neurons adapt after each experience. Neurons can grow in length, physically to have a better reach at other areas in the brain that can help perform the task better each time.

All the neurons compete, in a way, for dominance in your brain…which explain ‘use it or lose it’. But..

Because the human brain is super fresh, it can remember things, and even if you haven’t rode a bike for ten years, you will still be able to do it, maybe wobbly at first, but that memory, that map your brain made all those years ago, is dusted off and re-used.

It also explains how people can get into ruts, get into compulsions, and habits, both good and bad. Your brain is a powerful tool, and it masters most people’s lives.

When the brain is mastered itself, you can direct where those maps form, and you can begin to heal any ‘bad’ or unhealthy brain maps.

The brain doesn’t like to be stagnant, we didn’t evolve that way.

So, when humans are removed from their natural environment and ecotones, they seem to do either of 2 things..

stagnate and get depressed, fall ill, and have a miserable life….

or flourish, and create masterpieces of art and science…..

How many hunter-gatherer tribes have horribly depressed, chronically ill and drug addicted people? Not many

How many of those tribes have Einsteins, Newtons, Picassos, or Michelangelos?

Not many.

In one sense, it’s simply not ‘natural’ to push the limits of the mind as the great artists and scientists have done.

In another sense, it’s the human brain, of course it’s natural!

So, keeping our brains happy is keeping our societies happy. Or something like that…

brain wack patty map, give a crow a moan,

play piano upsidedown, a frown turns ’round

E=MC2 and turtles fly the night

looking for Terrapin

the lights always bright..

Photons shine white,

cut one open and black spills out..

and births the ying and the yang,

Neurons sputter, like bad sparkplugs,

they need maintenance too,

make them fire into the night

and form a circle of thought in your brain.

It will be real, as real as anything, and a physical circle of electricity will be conducted..

follow its path in your head, and its a dance, one neuron to the next, electricity flows inside the neuron, till it reaches its end, spewing out chemicals to find the next neuron, and this turns it on, literally, and it feels electric, because it is, and then it shoots this electric current down inside this next neuron towards its tip,s then explodes with more chemicals…

It sounds pretty sexual, and, in a way it is…

these bursts of chemicals and electricity create growth, create relationships, and make the brain work more efficiently. (okay efficient and sex don’t really go together, well, I hope not, lol)

So, I will continue to create this particle accelerator in my brain, using thought alone, as that is all that is biologically required, as the thoughts move the neurons into action, which moves the electricity which moves the chemicals….which makes neurons grow, and expand and create more and more connections…

I think I just gave myself a headache. lol.

The rain dances with photons.... and whoever the master was, falls to their knees and smiles at the colors.

The rain dances with photons…. and whoever the master was, falls to their knees and smiles at the colors.