Dharma Wonderland

Kennedy, King and Lennon.  Public squalor, private wealth.  What is this strange country, the United States of America?  It is the dog that – when left unattended – discovers everything on the table is within reach, the pleasure and the poison, and devours both.

There are times I feel socially homeless among some of my fellow citizens.  No wonder my heart struggles to not become an old battle-axe, rust-worn shield, divided realm.

Watch out for the prison guards you yourself have employed, steer clear of the wartime radio news editors who work overtime inside your mind and never take a vacation.  Beliefs are roads to the ultimate nowhere, and are always under construction.

I wish I could get up on my soapbox all mighty and righteous, and urge us all to renounce gain and loss, pleasure and pain, but they are the characters who inhabit our landscape.  And none could exist without the other – they’re like political parties.  There is no “side” with One. You need two, or more.  Without villains, what’s the point of the existence of heroes, and vice versa?

It’s comforting to remember that beyond the horizon of all our drama there’s an ocean.  Beyond the anatomy of all our choices there’s an open sky.

Our addiction to fear has sent us careening into wonderland, and we’ve elected the queen of hearts as our president.  We’ve closed ourselves in with defibrillators, fire extinguishers, medications, and an obsession with life expectancy, youth preservation.  We are addicted to comfort, its creation, replication, perpetuation.  How do we find a way out of our house of smoke and mirrors?

It’s comforting to know we will breathe in and out until we no longer breathe in and out.  We, a passing rain, a prairie wind.

How much peace might we experience if the glowing lanterns of our hearts could learn to not be afraid to change, to flicker, to fade.  The shifting of stones can alter the course of a river’s current.

 

Pilgrimage

All day long, I see things a painter would paint. What is there to complain about? Even my own pain has been endured by thousands before me, and depicted by master sculptors.

Pilgrimage, penance, failure, learning to hold one’s self tenderly, in friendship – all these have relevance to my experience of life. Honoring the earth, or a Saint, or a God, a parent, a personal hero, the wind, rain dripping from trees.

Turning to look into one’s own heart, seeing what’s there. It is a brave thing to search your own soul. You will endure accusations of selfishness from others, and from your own mind.

We all just want a door to open and let the light in, but what if we are the door? What if we are the light?

To the world, I say I’m sorry for so many things. To the world, I also say thank you, thank you, thank you.

 

Basho’s Traveling Companion

On the jade-colored plate, yellow fruit.

Between the window and folding screen, a bed, some clothing.

In the stillness of the forest, water flowing.

On the mountainside, plum blossoms.

In the rain and mud, wild horses.

From a bowl in the hermit’s shelter, steam rising.

In the iron stove, embers glowing.

At the edge of August, all that I am.

 

 

Big Sur

A whale spouted by and I dreamt of the story my life could tell.  I remembered many loved and lost, I received the world, had a conversation with the cosmos.

A whale spouted by, the vastness deepened.  I sat, hands in lap, left over right, palms up, thumbs touching.

A whale spouted by, I smelled sagebrush.  I watched the buckwheat sway along the sea cliffs, became hungry.

A whale spouted by and I contemplated the fallen.  Standing among fallen acorns, I too am a fallen one.

A whale spouted by and I stopped searching for things.  I vowed to stop searching for a horse while riding a horse.

A whale spouted by and my fingertip touched itself.  The blade of my sword cut itself, I ate two bowls of soup.

A whale spouted by, it came and it went.  Sounds come and go.  Wind, rain, pebbles in a pool.  Time to chop onions, prepare soup again.

Dragon Gates

While drinking cold tea from a glass jar and dividing your thoughts between Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Neruda, you cut a kiwi in half the long way and consider the oval ring of black seeds at its heart.  You always see Our Lady Of Guadalupe there, proving that eating a piece of fruit can be a private ritual, an example of eco-psychology, a rite of passage, an odyssey.

It occurs to you how disposable – though indeed miraculous – your body is.  To your mind it is sacred, almost holy, containing all the memories of your life, your ancestry.  You sit there, sipping your tea, and contemplate how not-sacred your body actually is.  How it is an idea that exists only inside a human mind.

You shed the illusion, leave it behind like a shipwreck you swam ashore from, like a prince giving up all worldly pleasures to go be a hermit.  You decide to relax into Being until the time comes for you to pass into Non-being.

Finishing the kiwi fruit, it occurs to you that when life becomes too fixed – too rigid – the Trickster god comes in some form and rattles you to the bone.

Wiping your mouth on your shirt sleeve, you remember that in Hong Kong there are architects who build skyscrapers with huge holes in them “for the dragons to go through“.

The Dream Before by Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson

The Dream Before ~ 

 

She said, What is history?

And he said, History is an angel

Being blown

Backwards

Into the future

He said: History is a pile of debris

And the angel wants to go back and fix things

To repair the things that have been broken

But there is a storm blowing from Paradise

And the storm keeps blowing the angel

Backwards

Into the future

And this storm, this storm

Is called

Progress

Laurie Anderson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Say You Are Lonely” by William Stafford

Say You Are Lonely ~ William Stafford

More still than a star, one thought shies

by: what if the sky loved you?

But nobody knew?  But that magnet in space

pulled hard?  But you acted like nothing at all

was reaching or calling for you?  More still

than a star going by, that thought stays.

A day at a time pieces of it glow.

Nobody notices: quiet days.