Excerpt from The Way of Zen by Alan Watts

From The Way of Zen by Alan Watts ~

“All one’s intentional acts, desires, ideals, stratagems, are in vain.  In the whole universe, within and without, there is nothing whereon to lay any hold, and no one to lay any hold on anything.  This has been discovered through clear awareness of everything that seems to offer a solution – or to constitute a reliable reality – through the initiative wisdom called Prajna, which sees into the relational character of everything. 

With the eye of Prajna, the human situation is seen for what it is: a quenching of thirst with saltwater.  A pursuit of goals which simply require the pursuit of other goals.  A clutching of objects which the swift course of time renders as insubstantial as mist. 

The very one who pursues, who sees and knows and desires the inner subject, has his existence only in relation to the ephemeral objects of his pursuit.  He sees that his grasp upon the world is his stranglehold about his own neck, the hold which is depriving him of the very life he so longs to attain.  And there is no way out, no way of letting go which he can take by effort, by a decision of the will. 

But who is it that wants to get out?  There comes a moment when this consciousness of the inescapable trap, in which we are at once the trapper and the trapped, reaches a breaking point.  One might almost say that it matures or ripens, and suddenly there is a ‘turning about’ in the deepest seed of consciousness.  In this moment all sense of restraint drops away, and the cocoon which the silkworm spun around himself opens to let him go forth, winged as a moth. 

It is now possible to live spontaneously without trying to be spontaneous.”

~ Alan Watts (The Way of Zen)

 

 

 

 

Beginner’s Mind

Spirit of breath and practice, holy mystery of movement and stillness, grant me the discipline to just sit here, though the old fires still burn in me.

Grant me the wisdom to remain plainspoken at the doorstep of the mind’s entanglements.  Let me keep a balanced, empty mind.

Grant me patience, not only for my own sake, but for the sake of others.

Wherever I am, may I not lose the sight to truly see the colors, forms, shapes, all around me, then and there.

And whenever I walk, may I have the sense to notice the soles of my feet touching the ground, meeting the earth – even when they are housed in shoes.

 

 

 

Obituary

Will it only be a list of information, a collection of the external?

Born in so-and-so, to these parents of this descent, lived here and then here, and then here.  Worked as a nurse, a cook, an accountant, managed a dry cleaning business, taught fifth graders or at the university, produced movies.  (Your name here) loved dogs/cats, was notorious for having ice cream for dinner.

Or maybe include a little something more.  How you used colorful expressions – I need a  little alcohol in my radiator.  I’d rather see the devil come.  He’s dumb as a fencepost.  

How you instilled in others a sense of curiosity, wonder.  What your passion was, what made you feel most alive, what sustained you in difficult times?  What drove your courage, your work, your will?  What was the nature of your heart, your spirit?

In lieu of flowers, please make a charitable donation to the preservation of nature or the arts.

 

 

Sand

All the things you

thought were true

in your life turned out

to be built on it.

Even mountains

are sand yet unground

by water, wind, and time.

Use my bones, oh world.

Make a ladder

so that someone in need

may climb.

 

 

 

Refugees Welcome

There are the small crystals you left as blessings, tucked just beneath the earth.

There is the love you have for everyone you feel separated from.

And there are the invisible arrows that keep you on the path, your path, all your life, so that when other people try to yoke you with their doubts and question what you’re doing, you know enough not to listen.

The learning seems to come geologically slow, but you do eventually learn when to forget them and pay attention to the voice emanating from your center.  Through deep listening, through the acknowledgement of that voice, you come to know your center, and you come to hold it.  And the things you expect from yourself begin to change.

There are the great vertical stones you have glimpsed in dreams, and also the smaller, more rounded ones along the shore.

There are the bells on the necks of all the ponies, the raindrops, fall as they may.  There are the trees, connected – like all of us – in unseen ways by unseen roots.  There is the road, the path, your shoes, yellow rice, steam rising from a bowl of soup.

All the prayers you hold inside are on display in the world around you, before you.  You don’t need anyone’s advice to learn how to see.  You only need the courage and will it takes to look – that which you already possess, but do not always choose.  Its only requirement is that you choose it above all else.

There are places to rest along the miles of all your days, if you will only sit.  There are ferries to take you across all the rivers, if you will only board them.

There are ways to remember you are not your body, if you will only forget about your clothes and your appearance.

Allow yourself to sleep.  When you wake it will still be there: this yearning to bring all knowledge inward, this thirst to move on, out, through, up, into, from all the trials you’ve undergone.

Take your time, that’s what it’s there for.

Love returns to your heart as you walk to the ends of the earth.

Now, choose something to burn.  What will it be?

 

Humpty Trumpty

You know how it is:

one minute you’re riding high.

The next you’ve had a great fall,

and what’s done is done.

You’ve thrown your fit,

made your mess.

 

Then comes the pulling

together of yourself,

the attempt to reestablish

your place on the shelf.

The king’s men

won’t be of much use

since you betrayed them all.

And the horses…

you drove them away,

remember?

How Loons Say Goodnight

Are you out there?

Yes.

Are you okay?

I am.

Good night then.

Night.