Leaves

leaves

Our ancestors fall among the autumn leaves.

As the last breath of a leaf departs the tree, the deep reds and oranges of woven clothing take up the drum.

Scattered piles of yellows, golds, ambers and greens….returning to the Earth, invoking Love.

All their wisdom….their laughter, sadness and love…all of their stories… triumphs and defeats… fears and hopes…are revealed when we breath in what is contained within the returning leaves….breathing not with our lungs…..

Do not doubt what is shown before you, but beware thinking you know what it is you are shown.

 

(not my own photo)

Love

Faith to get to the other shore

Faith to get to the other shore

Our brains are very strange things. Well, our thoughts are anyhow.. well, my thoughts perhaps, lol. But seriously… Our thinking minds create the Universe. Things that consume our minds with worry are usually things that don’t warrant that level of attention.

I am not the best Buddhist. When I think deeply about myself, my thoughts, I realize I am truly deeply attached to my desires… I constantly desire to rid my body of the disease it has, I desire this, I desire that, and it goes on and on… it will never end if I let it ‘run its course’.

It’s funny, because although in my heart I know that all this desiring is unhealthy, and although my mind can rationally understand why it is unhealthy, my mind still chugs along, giving my heart and my analytical mind a giant middle finger. So, who is in charge? It almost feels like I am the captain of a strange spaceship that is out of control…. Like it is flying straight towards the sun because it is shiny and pretty… even though I know in my thoughts and my heart it is foolish and destructive…. Yet my spaceship keeps heading there… blinded by desire.

I also understand that there is no spaceship, no sun, no desire.

Who is in charge of the thing that is charge-less?

I suppose it is my deep faith, my heart’s understanding of the truth of the Buddha’s teaching that keeps me pondering, keeps me going, keeps me grateful.

I feel the deep love that the Universe is. I feel the Universe perceiving itself through my mind, my thoughts, my actions, my love.

Life is too miraculous, too wondrous, too short to flounder. Even when we do not know what else to do but flounder, which for me, is often, one needs to embrace the floundering, and have deep faith… in the Universe, in yourself…

The first Noble Truth is that life is suffering (as well as the opposite, mind you). Why does life involve suffering? That does not seem right, does it? Perhaps. Perhaps not. It is a very good thing to contemplate, and contemplate deeply. What does it mean?

All beings have been touched with death, whether a loved one, a friend, even a stranger, or a pet. It can tear one’s heart apart and some people never recover. It can simply be too painful to address. One day, for all beings, everyone one of us, it will be our turn. What then?

Dogen said we must practice as if our hair is on fire. There is a great urgency to what we must do with our lives. And this ‘doing’ is all about what we do with our hearts. We must see clearly our own heart, our own mind, see how it is nothing more and nothing less than all that exists propping it up, making it exist. We owe all we are to all that is. When we see the beauty of our own true heart, the Universe shines, we shine, and deep love cannot be anything but flowing, overflowing… The Universe itself cannot contain this Love.

Be kind with yourself, love yourself, with all your ‘faults’, all your mistakes, accept it all, leaving nothing out, and allow yourself to love, and deeply, and fully. It is all okay.

Comfortable electric chair

Life comes and goes... even rocks come and go... what do we do with the time we have here?

Life comes and goes… even rocks come and go… what do we do with the time we have here?

I remember many years ago attending a talk given by a Buddhist monk back when I lived in the United States. Something he said has stayed with me to this day, and I am confident always will remain with me until I die. It was something obvious, something we all know, but I suppose the context drove home a crucial message. The monk did work in prisons… work with death-row inmates. People who were sentenced to die for the crimes they committed. There was no going back, they knew they would be killed and their time was limited. The monk talked about how some of these prisoners had realized greater freedom than the mass majority of people who are living ‘free’. Then he said the sentence that grabbed my head and has never let go… He said ‘We are all on death-row’

Now, of course, we all know that we will all die, someday. But, at least for me, it was always some abstract thing to occur in the incalculable future..

We will all die, we are truly all already on death-row.

How depressing!!!

Yet… how liberating.

How would you act towards yourself today if you knew you were to die tomorrow? How would you act towards other people?

In one sense, knowing we will die can free us from the fear of the consequences of our actions… both good and bad… we can become fearless.

In another sense however, knowing we will die can bind us with crippling fear of the upcoming death we know awaits us.

We are all on death-row… how will we make the time we have left in the prison we have put ourselves in?

In Buddhism, there is a Way, a path, in which we can escape our prison before we die.. so that when we do die, we die free. … like some of those inmates in the electric chair.

Our Fire

fire

Sometimes the winds come and without warning, extinguish our fire.

Our fire was built long ago.

We gathered the wood throughout many lifetimes.

Our parents provided the spark and BAM!

We became alight…alive!

We may have gathered the best wood, nice and dry, or maybe it’s a bit green. Maybe we gathered just a little bit of wood, or maybe a whole forest.

Sometimes even the strongest fire cannot survive the strongest storms. It happens. Sometimes, the weakest fire, just barely alight, can continue on and on for a very long time.

Circumstances…. Sometimes our fires endure many storms, sometimes they endure few. Sometimes our fires end oh so early, sometimes they burn and burn and burn.

Let our fires be our lamps upon ourselves and take good care.

 

fire2

 

This post is dedicated in the honor of relative who recently passed away. She was proud of her Native American heritage. For you Bunnie.

The photos used in this post are not mine.

Holes

Sun filters through holes left behind..

Sun filters through holes left behind..

All things come and go, come into being then go back again. Sometimes we feel we are left with a huge hole… or where something once was and now is no longer there.

We can reminisce and we can look ahead. We can hide in the past and we can hide in the future. Sometimes it is important to think about the past and future, but we must always be careful to not get trapped there.

So they say, ‘Today is the first day of the rest of your life’….

Is there any other day?

 

 

Toni Packer

Springwater Retreat. (not my own image)

Springwater Retreat. (not my own image)

Two nights ago I found out that Toni Packer had passed away back on the 23rd of August. My heart sank yet my mouth smiled. I didn’t smile at her passing, no, but smiled because of my gratefulness for her. I had become aware of her through the book Meetings with Remarkable Women: Buddhist Teachers in America by Lenore Friedman. Toni’s clarity and, above all, honesty, shone straight into my heart. I had met her 10 years ago during a retreat at the Springwater Center in rural upstate New York, which she helped set-up. (She basically founded it, but she would probably have none of that talk!). Simply put, she was a person I would gladly cut my arm off for (As Eka did for Bodhidharma).

A month or two ago, I began thinking about her teachings again, and started re-reading her book The Work of This Moment. Her honesty in her words kept resonating in my mind, in my heart, over this past month or two. This prompted me to, among other things, to write the blog post How important is sitting meditation?

So I ask myself, was this reconnection with her, at the time of her death merely a coincidence, or synchronicity or something else, something more subtle and deeper? My brain says that statistically speaking, it is coincidence, my body says its synchronicity yet my heart says it’s something deeper. Does it matter? I don’t need an answer, and as Toni would want from me, just be honest to my inquiry…. Why do I want an answer in the first place? Does the answer really matter? If so, in what ways?

My heart, does not feel sadness, though my brain does. When I think about that she has died, my brain is sad. But when I feel with my heart, those neurons that live in vast numbers in heart muscle, they feel and think differently.. they feel embraced, warm and full of incredible love and wisdom. Yes, she has had a profound effect on my life.

I send my condolences and love to Toni’s family, friends, loved ones and to everyone who has been touched by her utter honesty and wisdom.

Decay

Beauty exists only now, enjoy it!

Beauty exists only now, enjoy it!

Run around the Sun

Dance around the Moon

Swim beneath the waves

Jellyfish in their caves

Glacier’s tilt

River’s silt

Flowers bloom

Leaves decay

Everything that is

always fades away.

Water’s mist

Water flows..

Water flows..

Life comes into this world like the ocean washes onto the shore.

Life leaves this world like morning mist clears in the warming sun.

Life, while here, transforms other life.

Some people help transform and inspire other people into a better person than before.

I say thank you and farewell to a strong, honourable man, who has inspired me. He truly practiced what he preached, but without ever preaching. My close friend’s father has passed on, and I wish him and his family comfort and love and I thank him for the wisdom of his life.

When Do Dead Atoms Become Alive?

Life emerges out of lifelessness… Just as the separation between self and other is an illusion, the difference between what is alive and what is not is also not real. This tree’s trillions of atoms.. how many are the same as when it was a seedling? Not many, so what exactly is this tree? What exactly are you?

So, all living materials are fundamentally constructed of non-living atoms. All living things, can be broken down into 92 or so different atoms, 92 or so different pieces of all living puzzles. In fact, all things, living or not, all matter that exists, is made up or no more than 92 or so these different atoms, pieces, ‘building blocks’. Sounds like such a small number to me, to explain all that exists! Yet, then there’s the thought of computers, all ones and zeros, on or off, open or closed, only 2 ‘atoms’. So, 92, maybe its a big number actually.
Since humans have figured out how to play within the atom, not merely with them, but play inside them, the number of elements, or different kinds of atoms, has increased. Plutonium, for example, is ‘man-made’, and there are plutonium atoms existing on the Earth right now. However, some of the heavier ‘man-made’ elements only can exist for very short amounts of time, being radioactive, it decays quickly into a different element.
Anyhow,
Life evolved on Earth with the 92, for the most part, and it is an inherent quality of the nature of atoms that life has come into existence. The most logical explanation for life being a favorable outcome of the nature of how atoms work and interact, is through the idea of energy transformations. The Universe has a powerful quality of trying to ‘share’ its energy evenly throughout the Universe, a quality also that could be termed entropy. Through this Universal function of ‘compassion’, atoms move and interact with this ‘compassion/sharing of energy’ quality. The energy transformations that occur between atoms are directed toward maximizing the amount of energy to be transferred, always transferring the energy from higher to lower, a giving quality. Living material, life, is composed of atoms in such a way that has formed a positive feedback loop of energy transformations. We, if you will, are, by default, all beings of compassion, sharing our energy, on the most basic level, with the rest of the Earth and Universe.
So, what is the level at which a level of organization by atoms form a relationship in which energy transformations are self-regulating does this become life? Well, I think it’s exactly when these energy transformations are self-regulating. If self-regulating doesn’t mean life, i don’t know what does!
So, thinking more about it, each atom is involved, they are the basis, the foundation, so the atoms, by the definition above, are in fact living. They are self-regulating energy transformations. For example, just as multicellular organism’s cells evolved by incorporating bacteria to make mitochondria, bacteria incorporated atoms to make a nucleus. Life envelops itself, wrapping and winding up, hugging and processing the energy, adding to the dance of the Universe.

Or something like that.

(I originally wrote this back in February 2010)