I perused the September Shambhala Sun while Bella perched on the couch above my right shoulder, and Tiger curled up against my left leg. They both purred, serenading me in stereo.
32 years ago, on Labor Day, I was hoping Jeff would be born. We played games and cards to pass the time with my mother and Steve's. Now, Jeff will be 32 tomorrow, and married within the week.
This Shambhala Sun is on politics, since Buddhism is about embracing everything that is going on, without judging or turning away, and it appears politics is here to stay.
The cover has George Washington sitting cross-legged, meditating.
Jane Hirshfield suggests checking out this web-site, which offers the following words of Jaan Kaplinski and some of his amazing philosophy and poems.
I do not define myself. Defining a human being - this is what the Inquisition did. Definition IS inquisition. I have the feeling - perhaps I am not right - that in the Far East you hadn't to define yourself. You had to fulfill your duties, but in your heart you were free, what you had in your heart was free as light, as darkness, as wind that comes and goes. This is my freedom. The freedom of somebody who loves to observe and to photograph floating clouds and little fish swimming in our pond.
Two years ago, in spring I met two cranes close to my country home. They had spring in their hearts, making movements of dance. I greeted them with a Buddhist bow. They didn't fly away. One of them answered to my greeting with a similar bow.I made some dance movements, swaying my hands as wings. They answered. I was really happy. I had the feeling that Nature had accepted me as one of its lost sons. When Kazuko Shiraishi called me once from Japan, telling me she was writing an essay on my poetry, I had a similar feeling. Is it Asia that has accepted me, answered to my bow?
In Shambhala Sun, a mother, Anne Cushman, talks about her young son Skye, and how his many questions keep her thinking. "As the Zen masters say, look not for answers but at the nature of questioning mind itself." She ends the article with this prayer her son says one night at dinner. "Thank-you to the beautiful earth for making all this food. Thank-you to the rain for helping to grow it. Thank you to all the great people we love. And thank you to the Big Bang for making it all happen."
I think we can all agree to that!
Erik Hansen writes a tribute in Shambhala Sun a to his late Zen teacher, Dr. Edward Wortz, who instructed him in listening meditation. "Sit still, relaxed and alert, and listen to whatever sounds appear in your environment. Listen with "bare attention"; that is, without adding any thoughts, labels or judgments to the sounds. Listen, in Ed's words, as "sounds come into existence, stay for varying lengths of time, and then vanish ... as does all experience."
Ah, yes, this we know, and, still, it is hard to absorb.
The moon is wondrous tonight. Take a gander. It moves broadly across the sky. Can you hear it?
Ed Wortz would also gong a wonderful iron meditation bowl, and instruct people to listen to the sound decay: "Now, listen! Exactly where the sound was - listen to the no-sound."
I think of how we look for the green flash when the sun sets into the sea. Do we listen, in the same way, for the place where the vibration is clasped, to a chest, too huge for us to perceive?
Charles Johnson writes about historical change. He quotes Arnold J. Toynbee in A Study of History.
"The painfully perturbing dissolution of familiar forms, which suggests to weaker spirits that the ultimate reality is nothing but a chaos, may reveal to a steadier and more spiritual vision the truth that the flickering film of the phenomenal world is an illusion which cannot obscure the eternal unity that lies behind it."
"The music that the rhythm of Yin and Yang beats out is the song of creation; and we shall not be misled into fancying ourselves mistaken because, as we give ear, we can catch the note of creation alternating with the note of destruction .... If we listen well we shall perceive that, when the two notes collide, they produce not a discord but a harmony. Creation would not be creative if it did not swallow up all things in itself, including its own opposite."
The Dalai Lama has this to say. "Once people get to deeper levels, they ask, "What is the ultimate reality of nature?" So I usually describe Buddhism as a combination of science, philosophy, and religion."
It works for me. Happy enjoying of the moon tonight, the moon, the symbol of enlightenment.