Well, I didn’t think I’d be away quite this long. It’s hard to predict how long my quiet phases will be these days. This quiet time since I last posted I have gone back into deepening my Zen practice by joining a community of folks studying under a Zen teacher who is developing an online group. I’ve also started sitting with an online Zen group each morning 4 days out of the week.
Getting deep into Zen practice always makes it harder to write because a lot of that experience is hard to put into words. Curious that a place beyond words is putting me back in touch with my voice. I needed the silence because I wasn’t really hearing it before. It had gotten muffled.
I’m curious to hear what it has to say at this age. I’m 44 but I’ve always felt and sounded much younger in my head. This time I’m hearing myself more thoughtful, assured, adult, more of a powerful elder wolf howl.
It’s going to be an interesting journey, that’s for sure.
that’s what Shane said©
I came across a post I wrote for my old Zenfant’s Dirty Dharma blog of days gone by. It’s one of the ones I liked the best and I wanted to record it again here since the old blog is deleted. This is 3 years old now.
I want to be kind. I want to be compassionate. I want to be the person that makes others feel more peaceful and settled just by sitting in the same space with me.
I want be kind because it is the best possible, most clear, most sensible action to take. The goal is not to be “good” or avoid Hell (whatever that is) or get extra points for Heaven (whatever that is). The goal is to have no goal and still be kind.
The meditation part comes in because it is during that practice of intensified mindfulness, I get to begin to penetrate down below what my everyday mind is attached to (it’s one of the cool side effects of regular mindfulness practice). I recently heard a talk by Shinzin Young in which he talks about the concept of “no self” as being like an old CRT monitor displaying a pure white screen. It’s white when I look at it with my naked eye, but if I put a magnifying glass up to it, it breaks down into the pixels of red/blue/green. So which is it? Red/blue/green or white? Well, it’s both, depending on my perception, so we could also say it is both and neither…or, to quote the Heart Sutra, “form is emptiness, emptiness is form.”
So when I penetrate deeply enough into my own mind, and see this to be true, the notion of being disconnected from other people, places, things falls away and true kindness emerges. And true kindness is contagious like a virus, it has an energy of its own. Can you imagine a world infected with kindness? Kindness cooties…go get some.
that’s what Shane said©
I am taking a week off from all things. No work. No teaching. I haven’t had that big of a break in near 2 years.
A life lesson I’ve come to understand is that all the structure, interests, hobbies, jobs, schedules, activities, etc that we bundle up and call ‘having a life’ can only be appreciated and more deeply understood by walking away from them. It’s the same as appreciating the ample space of my new coffee mug, not for all the lovely liquid brown heaven it contains but for the space created by a container. A mug with no space is just a block. Music without silence between notes is just noise.
Simple is powerful
Slow is wonderful
Still is amazing
Silence is all
Silence and space are necessary to see the shape of my life. Without them, it’s just noise.
that’s what Shane said©
My mother had her 3rd foot surgery this week. There’s always a lot of sitting and waiting on surgery day. The facility we were at is built for day surgeries. They have a staff that is mostly friendly, engaging and cordial…probably because they know they only have to deal with you for a few hours. They bustle about with subtle acknowledgments and encouragements to help it all seem normal. I’m pretty sure you know if you’ve been in one, though, hospital settings of any kind are completely outside the normal space-time continuum.
That much sitting and waiting is a lot like sitting Buddhist meditation, or zazen as we Zen folk like to call it. Sitting without goals. I guess in the hospital there is a goal of getting through whatever ordeal brought you there but I think a lot of us in those situations try to ignore it for fear of worrying ourselves sick in public. Ok, it’s a lot like zazen until the phones and iPads get whipped out and then it’s just a lot like texting and facebooking letting friends and family know what a drag it is to be sitting and waiting.
During those times it was like zazen, the negative side of meditation reared it’s ugly head in the form of an older man in the waiting room who was chatting with a younger female relative and spouting a great deal of ultra conservative propaganda as if it were capital T Truth. A great deal of it was just standard stuff but then he made some borderline homophobic comments and justified them as being part of “all the books: bible, talmud, Quran, etc”. Gurl, for a minute I did almost capital Q Queen out on him but that moment passed fairly quickly. What I settled on was the fact that the world is made of stories and “all the books” are just stories made up, edited, mistranslated and passed down from a long time ago. Just as made up as Buddhist holy texts (called sutras). Yes these things are said to be handed down or thusly spoken and such but child you and I both know we can’t play a game of telephone across a span of five minutes without fuckin up the original message so just imagine the transcription errors over two or three thousand years.
All this took me back to the Heart Sutra, a cornerstone sutra of my school of Buddhism (think denomination if that helps). It’s a very no non-sense (some might even say non sensical) text that points to the (warning Zen double speak coming) baseless base of things below all the stories in all the books everywhere. Instead of calling him a moron I pulled out the iPad and read the Heart Sutra. I was thankful even if ultra conservative dude was not. It had been a while since I read that sutra and it reminded me that when I get too far from the basics, that’s about ego and violence of mind, body and spirit is not far behind.
Get back to your basics, whatever they are. Try and get behind the stories and make up your own mind. Be a light unto yourself like the Buddha said and find your own answers based on your own experience, not the answers given to you. Find how your stories link people together, not drive them apart.
Buddha is the new black.
that’s what Shane said©
Yeah, I couldn’t stay away. I missed blogging. Yeah, I said it. I missed it.
The last time around I had a fairly focused task of exploring the land of being a fag over 40 exploring Buddhism. I had, over the years, written myself into a corner. I wasn’t enjoying it anymore, so I killed it.
Death was ok but as you know it’s just a transition.
Here in my new life I have no plan and no goal other than to write stuff down and contribute to the global consciousness. I don’t have, nor do I want, any children, so I have to pass this shit along somehow, right?
and that’s what Shane said©