Saturday, December 26, 2020

Wu Hsin - Aphorisms for thirsty fish


Our attachment to beliefs …

    The attachment to beliefs is
    The greatest shackle.
    To be free is
    To know that
    One does not know.

Sleep …

    It is understood that
    Sleep is the desire for
    A period of rest
    For the body.
    It is less understood that
    Sleep is the desire for
    A period of rest
    Away from the body.

True peace cannot be disturbed…

    What is called peace by many is
    Merely the absence of disturbance.
    True peace cannot be disturbed;
    It resides beyond the reach of disturbance.

As if addressing our soundbite culture …

    When one is enthralled with
    The beauty on the surface of the ocean,
    The immensity of its depths can
    Never be discerned.

You can’t think your way to freedom.

    Controlling the mind doesn’t
    Take one to freedom.
    Controlling the mind
    Adds another link To one’s shackles.

Pain is physical, whereas suffering is mental.

    Whereas pain is
    A physical experience
    Suffering is a mental one.
    It is the sense that
    Things should be
    Other than they are.
    Its antidote is Acceptance.

We can be in a crowd and still be alone.

    Solitude is not
    A condition of the body.
    Instead, it is
    A condition of the mind.
    Solitude may be found
    In the busy market or
    May be elusive in the forest.

Feeling lost is the first step

    For many,
    The first step on
    A spiritual journey is to
    Become lost.
    The final step is
    Losing one’s self.

As if to explain why consumption does not make us any happier …

    Chasing after the things
    One yearns for is
    Inferior to
    Chasing after
    The source of the yearning.

The search for happiness …

    To search for happiness
    Implies its absence.
    This implication is a fundamental flaw.
    Happiness is ever present.
    It may become obscured,
    Such obscuration being temporary.

How magicians fool us …

    The preoccupation with
    The foreground, the sights,
    The smells,
    The sounds,
    Takes the attention away from
    The background.
    Yet, it is in this very background that
    The Mystery resides.

The natural doesn’t need laws

    What is natural
    Follows no laws nor
    Requires any.
    Can there be a rule for
    The beating of the heart or
    The blackness of the raven?
    There is a natural rhythm to
    The workings of the world.
    Some are discernable
    While others cannot be discerned.
    It is the dance
    Between the two that
    Creates action.

We cannot hide from ourself.

    There is no forest,
    There is no cave,
    There is no mountaintop
    Where one can hide From oneself.

Live in the moment …

    The greatest enjoyment is experienced
    When there is no concern for its duration.

Speaking of mindfulness, before it had a name, he writes:

    The sum of a past is I was.
    The sum of a future is
    I will be.
    The continuous crossing back and forth
    Between the two
    Obscures the present moment,
    The I am, Being Itself.

On freedom …

    A free man’s life is
    A life that is free of
    Free of dependency.
    With nothing to drag along
    One goes where one will.

Anyone who has ever lived through a corporate reorganization …

    Do not mistake
    A mere rearranging of the furniture
    For true change.

Being content is about dropping attachment and desire.

    The man of contentment
    Seeks nothing that
    He doesn’t have and
    Understands that
    Whatever he has
    Isn’t his to own.

In fact he later writes: “Chasing after more and more is futile. It is only less and less that lastingly satisfies.”

Building on this he incisively looks at our expectations

    Expectation is the grandfather of
    The world can never
    Own a man Who wants nothing.

Hsin writes on our desire to seek confirmation of what we already know.

    You are not satisfied
    With the answers
    Given by others.
    So you come to Wu Hsin.
    But what you really seek
    Are not answers
    But confirmation
    Of what you think
    You already know.
    If you were to admit
    That you know nothing,
    Then I will most gladly answer.

The greatest crime …

    The greatest crime is
    The overlooking of
    Who you really are In favor of
    The story of
    Who you think you are.
    This preoccupation with
    Your personal drama is
    The cloud that masks The sun.

On how to change the world …

    To conquer the large,
    Begin with the small.
    To change your world,
    Begin by changing yourself.
    What needs to be changed?
    Only the point of view.

Hsin, sees failure as an opportunity.

    Nothing succeeds like failure.
    Failure is a natural
    Call for attention,
    Like pain.
    To pay attention is to
    Step out of your trance.

Sometimes you have to crack some eggs

    To free the chick,
    The shell must be broken.
    To free what is inside
    One must shatter
    What is outside.

How we live …

    What is known is familiar
    Yet unsatisfying.
    What is unknown is feared
    Yet desired Life thrives in risks and
    Dies in stasis.

On the delta between our expectations and reality …

    The world changes profoundly
    When demands on it cease.
    The real world and one’s imagined world
    Share little.

What’s better than the acquisition of knowledge? Invert. Getting rid of ignorance. This passage also reminds me of the Arab Scholar Ali Bin Abi-Taleb, who said: “keeping one’s distance from an ignorant person is equivalent to keeping company with a wise man.”

    Ridding oneself of ignorance is
    Worth more than the acquisition of knowledge.
    With memory gone
    The past is gone
    Relinquishing hopes and fears
    The future is gone.
    The present is upon you.
    In every moment.
    You are free.

Not only is Hsin full of knowledge, he’s often beautiful in his writing. Consider this …

    The Infinite has no preferences.
    It kisses both the darkness and
    The light equally.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Rebekah Maroon - Dream-time-bound reality

art Gun Legler



Quote of the Imaginary Moment by Rebekah Maroon

When the person hears about the future and past being an illusion or being the cause of your problems, the idea of being here and now, being present, seems logical. From that perspective, it makes sense; the future isn't here, the past has already gone, don't waste time on it, be here now.
But the past, the future, the now, and the one trying to be here now, all belong in that dream-time-bound reality. There is no actual past, future and now; they are all objects or ideas, which appear and disappear in this no-thing.  

The one trying to be here and now, or trying to create a better reality isn't always appearing. The idea of being present appears to the dream person, it is claimed, and then there's just eating, speaking, thinking, doing the dishes...and then “Oh, I wasn't being present!” appears, and is claimed in frustration; when in reality there’s no-one here! That statement is just another appearance. This energy is a claimer, it has no actual reality, but it claims the appearances to be me. To it, it feels like it exists and it always exists, like it was just distracted, and it will do better next time. It feels like it's a permanent, consistent, real thing. It can't possibly know of its own non-existence, of its own appearances.

How could it? To itself, when it’s appearing, it feels real. The one trying to be here and now, and the idea of here and now are dreams appearing in this, and would only appear or be of any interest to that dream sense of a someone that felt real and independent. The whole idea belongs in the dream. The person can’t be here now; the person’s a dream. There isn’t a solid someone who can choose what thoughts and ideas appear; this is totally empty. Out of Nothing, as Nothing, back into Nothing; as if Nothing ever happened.

---Rebekah Maroon, from her book “This is God: An Expression of Non-Separation” 


Thanks to Miranda Warren


Monday, December 21, 2020

Joan Tollifson - Nothing works



 We each have many apparent problems. In my own life, it might be flare-ups of anger and resentment, or all the things that trigger these flare-ups, or it might be a lifelong fingerbiting compulsion that I still have at age 72, or that feeling sometimes that I can’t stand being inside my skin—that it is utterly unbearable and I have to escape, or it might be various self-righteous and controlling tendencies. Maybe each of you has your own list of apparent problems, neurotic tendencies and character faults, as well as things about the world that you find irritating or seemingly unbearable and enraging.

Like many of you, I’ve tried many solutions to all of this: alcohol and drugs, recovery work, organized religion, psychotherapy, meditation, Zen, Advaita, retreats, satsangs, somatic work, dietary changes, lifestyle changes, social justice work—you name it, I’ve done it.

And yet, these apparent problems, neurotic tendencies, and character faults still show up. Maybe they happen less frequently and with less severity and for shorter duration, maybe the storylines that trigger and sustain them are never entirely believable anymore, but still, these things happen. And the world and other people continue to behave at times in ways I don’t like and can’t control.

For a long time, I was hopeful that eventually I’d find the right solution, and these upsets and blemishes would disappear once and for all and never come back. To be honest, sometimes I’m still hopeful! (I’m truly a fool).

I remember pouring all this out in a private meeting with a Zen teacher once, and he said, “It sounds like you think there’s a problem.”

Wow! That was a wake-up moment!

Another one of my Zen teachers, Joko Beck, famously said, “What makes it unbearable is your mistaken belief that it can be cured.” And Wayne Liquorman: “The sense that things should be other than they are, is suffering.” And then just the other day, a friend of mine, who also happens to be a Zen teacher, said to me, “Nothing works!”

This is it, just as it is. And what if the life we actually have, with all of its warts and imperfections, is actually the perfect life?

And what if ALL of this is utterly impersonal? Whatever this whole apparent happening is (this whole universe, consciousness, dark enigma, life, intelligence-energy, unicity, the Self, whatever you want to call it), it can’t seem to help itself from falling into apparent holes again and again—and by holes, I mean identifying as a separate somebody, taking delivery of what is apparently happening, taking it personally, getting upset, reacting badly, and then searching for a cure! And if all THAT is taken personally, an even deeper hole and more upset! Layers upon layers of delusion, holes upon holes. And we keep imagining that someday, this will end! We’ll be fixed at last, and the world will be fixed.

But what if ALL of this is simply life dancing in the infinite ways it dances, playing hide and seek with itself, fooling itself, losing itself and finding itself? What if there is no one doing any of it? What if none of it actually matters? What if it’s not even real in the ways we imagine, meaning that it vanishes as soon as it appears, and it’s got no more substance than a passing dream? What if no cure is needed? What if the apparent imperfection is perfect just as it is?

There are indeed many things to do, such as meditation or yoga or inquiry, and we do seem to have a natural urge to repair what is broken, but there is no one who can choose to do or not do these things, and any notion of cause and effect is a conceptual overlay predicated on imaging time and the dividing up of a seamless reality so that one part can seemingly cause or be the result of another. But maybe it’s possible to meditate or explore in a totally different way, without seeking a result, without knowing why we’re doing it or what might reveal itself or emerge from it—approaching it as we might a dance or an art form, or as a baby exploring the world, or a lover exploring the beloved.

We may consider some behaviors and states of mind more enlightened (i.e., less caught up in the delusions of separation, substantiality and duality) than others. But ALL of it is this undivided wholeness doing what it does, and we can’t have the light without the dark. The mistakes are part of the whole fabric. Nothing needs to be other than how it is, and in an instant, it will be fresh and new. Our problems and their solutions are ever-changing appearances in an immovable presence/absence that never comes, never goes, and never stays the same.

All the words we use to describe our problems create the illusion that they are solid, fixed, persisting things, and that we know what they are.  But the living actuality itself can never really be pinned down or formulated. We ARE this living actuality. It is not other than us or outside of us. It is our direct experience in every moment. It is most intimate, right here, utterly immediate. In that sense, it is obvious and unavoidable. And it never goes away, even when it shows up as what we label anger, fingerbiting, or an especially horrible president.

In thinking about this living actuality (or present experiencing) and trying to formulate and pin it down, we seemingly miss it entirely. And yet, even that grasping, conceptualizing and mental mapping is nothing other than just this. We never actually lose it, nor can THIS ever be lost or found.

Maybe being awake is nothing more or less than simply being okay with the whole thing, just as it is—including our attempts to change it. And not just being okay, but actually enjoying the whole marvelous show, even the moments that don’t seem very enjoyable—being grateful for the whole wondrous catastrophe.

So, Happy Solstice, everyone. Happy beginning of the Age of Aquarius. Happy Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. Happy HolyDaze. And may we all enjoy the final days of 2020. It’s been quite a year!

I’ll be taking my usual at-home retreat from the end of this month through the beginning of the New Year. So I’ll say now, Happy New Year!



both pics by Gun Legler 



Chuck Surface - This tender affection


These days I find myself speaking,
In a most Tender, Loving voice,
To plants and trees, rocks and soil,
To clouds and mist, to moon and stars,
As if those things could hear my words,
And know of my Loving Affection.

I confess to concern regarding my sanity,
And the Foolish old man I’ve become,
Tears streaming, unprompted by thought,
Spontaneous, a flood Uncontainable,
At the drift of a cloud, at branches swaying,
Or the feel of the earth beneath my feet.

I noticed the onset of Love’s Insanity,
When a beloved friend passed recently,
And the Affection in which I held them,
Being no longer watered by their presence,
Did not wither and die from that lack,
But sent roots outward, to All That Is.

Within, this Love sent roots, as well,
Beneath the shallow soil of “who” I am,
To the deepest Interiority of “what” I am,
And Blossomed there, at the Heart of Being,
As an Affection, near Unbearable,
For the simple fact of existing.

Thankfully, no one has witnessed me,
Whispering Thankfulness to a fallen leaf,
Or I would surely be locked away,
And, gazing out an asylum window,
Would tear up at the incredible Beauty,
Of paint peeling on the window sill,
And the Quality of evening Light…

Upon All that Is.