Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Man Made a Long Pilgrimage

from Robert Grudin, Time and The Art of Living, XIII.5

A man made a long pilgrimage to a holy city. As he neared the city he saw, looming among the lower irregular shapes of other structures, the walls and roof of the great temple that was the object of his journey. Yet again and again, as he searched through dark narrow alleys and small marketplaces, he failed to find its entrance. As best he could, in a language not his own, he made inquiries of the townspeople; but all of them, taught in a newer religion, seemed neither to know nor to care. After much frustration, he was directed at last to a priest of the old faith, who told him that the great temple had in fact long ceased to possess a formal entrance, but rather could be entered in many ways, through any of a large number of the narrow houses and tiny shops which surrounded it. Yet in the end this revelation gave the pilgrim no help at all. Each house or shop he entered seemed so dark and squalid, its furniture so alien, its occupants so forbidding, that it seemed manifestly incapable of opening into the grandeur and freedom of the temple vault. The man left the city in bitterness and sought an easier faith.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

You're Never Too Poor

You're never too poor to pay attention.

~ Jim Dodge

Why Do We Say "Pay Attention"?

Mila and the Demons

(version from Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron)

One evening Milarepa returned to his cave after gathering firewood, only to find it filled with demons. They were cooking his food, reading his books, sleeping in his bed. They had taken over the joint. He knew about nonduality of self and other, but he still did’nt quite know how to get these guys out of his cave. Even though he had the sense that they were just a projection of his own mind -- all the unwanted parts of himself -- he did’nt know how to get rid of them.

So first he taught them the dharma. He sat on this seat that was higher than they were and said things to them about how we are all one. He talked about compassion and shunyata and how poison is medicine. Nothing happened. The demons were still there. Then he lost his patience and got angry and ran at them. They just laughed at him. Finally, he gave up and just sat down on the floor, saying, “I’m not going away and it looks like you’re not either, so let’s just live here together.“

And at that point, all of them left except one. Milarepa said, “Oh, this one is particularly vicious.“ (We all know that one. Sometimes we have lots of them like that. Sometimes we feel that’s all we‘ve got.) He didn’t know what to do, so he surrendered himself even further. He walked over and put himself right into the mouth of the demon and said, “Just eat me up, if you want to.“ Then that demon left too. The moral of the story is, when the resistance is gone, so are the demons.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Waiting for Houdini to Come Up

by Jim Dodge

Magic is not the manipulation of appearance.
It is the expropriation of the real.
Not mastered sleights blurred with patter
but the actual rabbit in every hat.
No tricks. Not the key to the shackles
from her mouth to his
passed in a good-luck kiss
just before they chain him in the trunk
and drop it in the cold, real river.
Not the key, but the kiss itself,
tender, fearful,
as wild as the release within us
when he floats out of the weighted trunk
and from the river bottom begins to rise,
escaping the skilled deceit,
freed from the illusion of escape.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Poem for Humankind by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

We should behave toward our fellow human beings as if they...

Were born, and will grow old, suffer and die, like us
Enduring the wheel of existence, of samsara
Living under the power of attachments, like us
Subject to desire, rage, and delusion, and
Careless in their ways, like us
Having no idea why they were born, as we have no idea
Stupid in some things, as we are sometimes stupid
Indulging their own whims, as we indulge ours
Wanting to be good, perhaps prominent, even famous
Taking advantage of opportunities to take advantage of others, like us.

They have the right to be crazy, to get drunk, to become obsessed
They are ordinary people who cling to this or that, as we do
They are under no obligation to suffer or die in our place
They are our fellow citizens, in secular and spiritual realms
They behave sometimes in haste, carelessly, like us
They have the duty to be responsible for their families, not for ours
The have the right to their own tastes, their own definition of well-being
They have the right to choose (even their religion) to suit themselves
They have the right to a share of public resources equal to our share
The right to be insane, in the world's opinion, as do we
The right to seek our help, and pity, and compassion
The right to our forgiveness, depending upon the merits of the case
The right to be socialists, or liberals,
To think of themselves before they think of others
They have the right to every right we claim, to live in this world.

Could we all but think this way, conflict and discord would not arise.

Translated by Susan F. Kepner, University of California, Berkeley