Categories: Journal, Nature, Quotes
Categories: Journal, Nature, Science, Social Science
Allie Brosh sums it up beautifully. While I am not soul-crushingly depressed as she was, even a bout of soul-pinching depression has deleterious effects. It’s insidious. I’ve known something is askew, but stumbling in the fog I wasn’t clear about it specifically. Until I read Allie’s Depression Part 2 post, and found myself re-reading it about 10 times a day since, as well as her first post about depression. The fog cleared just enough to identify that yes, I am depressed. I used to get into a bout of it in springtime in years past; it had been a few years, and I’d forgotten about that.
First: Adventures in Depression by Allie Brosh @ Hyperbole and a Half
Second: Depression Part 2 by Allie Brosh @ Hyperbole and a Half
Over the past months I have slogged through feeling:
You might argue that this is the human condition. And while that is true to a point, experiencing all these feelings consistently for the past many weeks signifies something is wrong.
Categories: Arts, Community, Education, Humanities, Journal, Meditation, Social Science, Spirit
I wish my blog were famous and had millions of readers so this video could reach many, many people.
If the video doesn’t show/play then click to watch it here.
I’ve not read any of David Foster Wallace’s books, but hearing this speech I can’t help but wish he was still alive.
Categories: Arts, Quotes, Recreation
If there’s a thing, a scene, maybe, an image that you want to see real bad, that you need to see but it doesn’t exist in the world around you, at least not in the form that you envision, then you create it so that you can look at it and have it around, or show it to other people who wouldn’t have imagined it because they perceive reality in a more narrow, predictable way. And that’s it. That’s all an artist does.
– Tom Robbins
Categories: Humanities, Journal, Nature, Quotes, Science, Spirit
Analysis has its peculiar scientific value, but the Spirit which passes from one person to another as a flame leaps from one coal to another grasps truth in its wholeness as a living thing united within itself. …Spiritual truth cannot be sharply defined like scientific truth. It exists on the dim edge of the unexplored region beyond the horizon of self-conscious thought. The language of the Spirit is symbolic and its suggestions are not so much facts as signs which point beyond themselves to the unseen ground of all existence. So inarticulate sometimes is the voice of the Spirit that it can be expressed only by a sigh, or even by complete silence.
Categories: Community, Journal, Spirit
Oh, to sink into silence. To breathe. To wait.
No rituals, no incense, no chants, no words. Just silence
and a straight-backed wooden chair.
The silence is alive. Traffic zips down the highway.
Chairs creak. Birds gossip. Someone coughs or sniffs.
But if you really listen, you can hear the sunshine singing.
Sometimes the entire hour passes in silence. Other times
a few rise to speak, to share whatever they felt led
to share prompted by their discernment.
To wait in the Spirit, in Love, connecting with
and through each other. The tender embrace of silence.
Opening the door within. Welcome, quietude! Welcome.
After the hour someone shakes another’s hand,
signaling the end of silent worship; then handshakes
and smiles ripple through the room.
The invitation comes to share what we did not feel truly prompted
by the Divine to share in worship. Announcements are made.
An invitation is given to refreshments and conversation next door.
That is the Meeting of Friends.
Categories: Journal, Meditation, Quotes, Spirit
…over the margins of life comes a whisper, a faint call, a premonition of richer living which we know we are passing by. Strained by the very mad pace of our daily outer burdens, we are further strained by an inward uneasiness, because we have hints that there is a way of life vastly richer and deeper than all this hurried existence, a life of unhurried serenity and peace and power. If only we could slip over into that Center! … There is a divine Abyss within us all, a holy Infinite Center, a Heart, a Life who speaks in us and through us to the world.
-Thomas R. Kelly, 1941
Faith and Practice, Religious Society of Friends (Quaker)
Categories: Journal, Meditation, Nature, Poetry, Quotes, Spirit
They’re moving off in all imaginable directions,
each according to his own private belief,
and this is the secret that silent Lazarus would not reveal:
that everyone is right, as it turns out.
you go to the place you always thought you would go,
the place you kept lit in an alcove in your head.
Some are being shot into a funnel of flashing colors
into a zone of light, white as a January sun.
Others are standing naked before a forbidding judge who sits
with a golden ladder on one side, a coal chute on the other.
Some have already joined the celestial choir
and are singing as if they have been doing this forever,
while the less inventive find themselves stuck
in a big air conditioned room full of food and chorus girls.
Some are approaching the apartment of the female God,
a woman in her forties with short wiry hair
and glasses hanging from her neck by a string.
With one eye she regards the dead through a hole in her door.
There are those who are squeezing into the bodies
of animals – eagles and leopards – and one trying on
the skin of a monkey like a tight suit,
ready to begin another life in a more simple key,
while others float off into some benign vagueness,
little units of energy heading for the ultimate elsewhere.
There are even a few classicists being led to an underworld
by a mythological creature with a beard and hooves.
He will bring them to the mouth of the furious cave
guarded over by Edith Hamilton and her three-headed dog.
The rest just lie on their backs in their coffins
wishing they could return so they could learn Italian
or see the pyramids, or play some golf in a light rain.
They wish they could wake in the morning like you
and stand at a window examining the winter trees,
every branch traced with the ghost writing of snow.
Categories: Buddhism, Journal, Spirit
One of my teachers in Zen is Karen Maezen Miller, whom I have known for seven years; I have visited her, and she guided me through my first sesshin. However, her sangha is located in Los Angeles, which is over 300 miles away. So it hasn’t been entirely practical to attempt to join or practice there. I visited two sanghas locally and they did not resonate with me, nor did the senseis. This is not a comment about them, just about the fact that the connection between student and teacher is important and I did not feel the aliveness that signals it for me. There is one sangha I had not visited. I allowed my practice to languish for over a year instead.
For a long time I’ve lurked on the Floating Zendo‘s website, read their blog, learned about their teacher, Enji Angie Boissevain, and listened to her talks. I have used the excuse that getting to the weekly zazen at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays is just too hard to arrange (childcare, Hub’s work). This morning I went to the half-day sit they have monthly.
It’s located at the Quaker Friends House in San Jose. I was greeted warmly, and while there was an altar, the arrangement was very simple. The rituals and service were simple. The three sessions of zazen (40 minutes each) were simple but hard for me to do. After zazen, the teacher gave a short talk.
She told about a story Hui-neng wrote about Bodhidharma visiting Emperor Wu. Before I go on, I feel it significant to mention that many years ago — back in 1998– I came across a quote by Hui-neng that landed in my heart and set up home, so much so that it has become my standard “email signature quote” and the “about me” quote I use when joining social media sites. It became a mantra and koan to me even before I knew what those words meant, and it has been a touchstone for me. That quote:
The secret is within your self.
Back to the teacher’s talk (which I am writing from memory and may have paraphrased a bit, but the dharma is there). Emperor Wu had worked hard to help spread Buddhism, having temples and monasteries built, ordaining monks and copying sutras. He asked Bodhidharma how much merit he had earned. Bodhidharma replied, “No merit.”
Enji Roshi reflected that what Wu had done had generated blessings, both received and given, but merit is entirely different.
I was puzzled. Isn’t it misguided to care about merit? Isn’t that motivated by ego? So I asked, “What is merit? And why would a person want to accrue merit if the point of practice is to become free of the ego?”
Her reply: “But that isn’t the point of practice. There is no ego. And merit is the connection that practice creates, the connection with others and life.” Her answer felt like a splash of water in the face; she had pointed out an assumption I’d made about merit and practice. She asked me if I understood, and I replied that I did, but that I understood it more in my heart than mind. I said it made me feel emotional and thanked her for answering my question. Then as I sat there, listening to her answer someone else’s question, tears welled up and over. I understood the connection because it radiated through her — into and through me. This felt like home.
Maezen is still my teacher, yet Maezen has stressed the critical importance of face-to-face encounters with one’s teacher. For my practice to thrive, I understand that I need a local teacher. Roshi and I talked awhile after people departed, and I experienced the sense that I have met my teacher. I will be returning to Floating Zendo.
Here the viewer does not see the sky but sees the reflection which can lead the viewer to it. A teacher is not enlightenment but a signpost pointing the way toward it.