We See Through a Glass Darkly

Your ego is a set of thoughts that define your universe. It’s like a familiar room built of thoughts; you see the universe through its windows. You are secure in it, but to the extent that you are afraid to venture outside, it has become a prison. Your ego has you conned. You believe you need its specific thoughts to survive. The ego controls you through your fear of loss of identity. To give up these thoughts, it seems, would annihilate you, and so you cling to them.

…You are totally in the control of your senses and thoughts. The alarm sounds and captures your attention, draws your awareness to it. But “you” are not your ears hearing the clock. You are awareness attending to your ears hearing. It’s like when you’re reading something so absorbing that you fail to hear someone enter the room. The sound of their steps triggers the process of hearing, yet you do not “hear.” For you are busy reading and thinking. Just as you are not your ears hearing, you are not your other senses either. You are not the eyes seeing, nose smelling, tongue tasting, or skin feeling. Only your thoughts are left. Here is where most people cannot escape. For they identify totally with their thoughts. They are unable to separate pure awareness from the thoughts that are its objects. Meditation allows you to break this identification between awareness and the objects of awareness. Your awareness is different from both your thoughts and your senses. You can be free to put your awareness where you will, instead of it being grabbed, pushed, and pulled by each sense impression and thought. Meditation frees your awareness.

~~~Ram Dass

The Fruits of Mindfulness

MP900438617

I saw this quote on Trycicle online today and what it describes is what I am experiencing now after practicing buddhism and mindfulness. The fruits of practice are real and attainable.

As your mindfulness develops, your resentment for the change, your dislike for the unpleasant experiences, your greed for the pleasant experiences, and the notion of selfhood will be replaced by the deeper awareness of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and selflessness. This knowledge of reality in your experience helps you to foster a more calm, peaceful, and mature attitude toward your life.

– Henepola Gunaratana, “Sitting Still”

The Power of Causes and Conditions

004Although causes and conditions form us, I have discovered that my Buddhist practice frees me from the causes and conditions that led to my initial suffering. The video is compelling in that it explains how important it is to first understand and acknowledge the causes and conditions of our lives, so that we can then create new responses instead of the old habitual responses we used as we adapted to an environment we happened to be born into.

 

this-video-dispels-every-nature-vs-nurture-myth-youve-ever-heard

“We are schooled away from life…” Mark Nepo

We are so unused to emotion

that we mistake any depth of feeling

for sadness, any sense of the unknown

for fear, and any sense of peace for boredom.

~~~Mark Nepo, The Book of AwakeningRed Rocks10313993_10201893887335784_4428185300913048652_n

Cloud less, Thought less

“Every day is a good day when thoughts do not remain.” Zen saying quoted at a dharma talk by Fred Eppsteiner, Florida Community of Mindfulness main teacher.

From here

on land

in our bodies

Looking up from

Inside of our story of what

The world is

Clouds appear solid

as facts

as thoughts

it seems yet

diaphanous, dispersing

both gather

for a moment

Then disappear, then

Reappear as thunderheads

Dramatic as ruminations

Building one upon the other

In our minds.

Never still

never the same

White, gray, black

Thin as a sliver

or thick as a mountain

Clouds

And thoughts

Tumble and

Chase each other

A cloud,

like a thought,

cannot be held in the hand

for it is

Weightless

as a memory

empty

as our selves

formless

as words

spoken into

the protecting, patient

empty

sky

of darhma.

From Tricycle Daily Dharma

One Thousand Buddhas | March 19, 2015

Where there are one thousand human beings, within one thousand ways of living, one thousand buddhas are revealed. Buddha is revealed through mountains, valleys, trees, and grasses, through a multitude of phenomena. The heart that can be revered in whatever form we see, in whatever direction we look, this is the true heart of Buddhism, this is Buddha life.

– Soko Morinaga Roshi, “One Chance, One Encounter”

Daily Dharma from Tricycle Magazine

Softening Judgment | March 18, 2015

Falling down is what we humans do. If we can acknowledge that fact, judgment softens and we allow the world to be as it is, forgiving ourselves and others for our humanity. The Buddha’s First Noble Truth—that suffering exists—is, in itself, a permission to be human and not demand more of ourselves than we’re capable of. Our compassion arises from our very fallibility, and love takes root in the soils of human error.

– Lin Jensen, “An Ear to the Ground”

Succinct Explanation of the Ego

Posted March 5, 2015

We need the matrix of thoughts, feelings, and sensations we call the ego for our physical and psychological survival. The ego tells us what leads to what, what to avoid, how to satisfy our desires, and what to do in each situation. It does this by labeling everything we sense or think. These labels put order in our world and give us a sense of security and well-being. With these labels, we know our world and our place in it.

Our ego renders safe an unruly world. Uncountable sense impressions and thoughts crowd in on us, so that without the ego to filter out irrelevant information, we would be inundated, overwhelmed, and ultimately destroyed by the overload. Or so it seems.

The ego has convinced us that we need it – not only that we need it, but that we are it. I am my body. I am my personality. I am my neuroses. I am angry. I am depressed. I’m a good person. I’m sincere. I seek truth. I’m a lazy slob. Definition after definition. Room after room. Some are in high-rise apartments – I’m very important. Some are on the fringe of the city – just hanging out.

Meditation raises the question: Who are we really? If we are the same as our ego, then if we open up the ego’s filters and overwhelm it, we shall be drowned. If, on the other hand, we are not exclusively what the ego defines us to be, then the removal of the ego’s filters may not be such a great threat. It may actually mean our liberation. But as long as the ego calls the shots, we can never become other than what it says. Like a dictator, it offers us paternalistic security at the expense of our freedom.

We may ask how we could survive without our ego. Don’t worry – it doesn’t disappear. We can learn to venture beyond it, though. The ego is there, as our servant. Our room is there. We can always go in and use it like an office when we need to be efficient. But the door can be left open so that we can always walk out.

 

– Ram Dass

Prose Poem:

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.
~W.B. Yeats

Listen…
Yes, you there…
step back from the edge of the precipice that you came upon, shocked now
with no warning
in your mind.
I know you are afraid. It was not this way for you before.
I am here for you as I have been
by no choice but through
A love that is not mine to question, that beats electric in me
unbidden like a heart.

You were fierce and feared.
You strode through the dark your chest puffed out like
a predator, piercing the night with sickly white fluorescent lights
as if the streets were hospital wards.
And they became so
Crowded with patients you called customers
Whom, it was said, only you could cure.

Now you shiver in the heat under the roof you constructed to cover your planet.
You shield your eyes
from seeing the harsh landscape
your very own handiwork.

Listen. This is how you got here:
You looked at me through blinders and called me a tree. Then you named me: Banyan, Live Oak, Maple, Sequoia. You wrote that down in a book
as if it was truth.
I became a fact you could dismiss or use as it suited.
That was your first mistake.
When you cut me and my sap ran
you did not recall the same stickiness of your own blood.
You did not believe we shared anything in common, certainly not
the atoms and minerals of the ancient stars that died to birth us.
So, I knew that our reunion would have to wait
until we had no choice. Like now.
I could see that you were too busy
to notice who you are.
You had to conduct a war against all that stood
in your way.
You ordered mines dug, swamps drained, earth smothered by cement

Now you are surprised.
How did your millions of miles of roads end here at this precipice?
Why does this abyss open before you?
You ordered it filled over and over, yet it opens again and again over and over.
You ordered the sea walls to be rebuilt higher again and again, yet the waves roar at them and walls crumble
over and over.
Your hand shakes as you grab at your pockets for your rosary of coins.
What is it that rocks the shale beneath your feet?

You ruled
in the corridors of power, in the penthouses, on the chemical grass golf courses that erode the bones of ancients.
Now you watch the news and see
coyotes leap over the walls of guarded houses.
Mountain lions roam yards.
Bears rummage through your trash, swim at their leisure in your Olympic-sized pools.
You have homes hidden behind steel gates, but the animals know these woods and canyons; they have mapped the paths in their veins, feel the land in their hearts, see through the dark and know exactly what needs knowing upon the air.

Like a god, you proclaimed who could live and who would die.
Here now, at your winter home in Florida, you stand at the edge of a sinkhole
staring at your Mercedes filled with mud.
Nearby, as if in a dream, you hear someone saying words like
limestone, aquifer and underground cave.
But you don’t understand any language not spoken in banks.
You shout your mantra, Fix it! Fix it!
But the palms tower over you indifferent to your demands.
The alligators, robbed of their swamps, snap at your feet.
Seagulls ride the up drafts and down drafts laughing with ease
while you struggle to stay upright in the gales.

You thought your bombs were perfect protection
for you and yours.
Now you realize
you too would become just more particles in the radioactive soil
yet the flowers would flourish.
You reach into your vault of millions for your talisman of dollars and find
a time bomb lodged in one corner.
When this bomb is triggered by the last floods and the final fires even you
will become brethren to the lowest insect, the stalk of grass.
You tremble because you do not recognize this as enlightenment.

Now for the first time, you hear the alarms. Your senses open like a deer listening for the hunter’s next step. The weapon you wielded, your very own
has turned on you.

Listen. I give what I am made to give.
My breath supplies yours
“An acre of trees supplies 260 lbs of oxygen per year for 19 people per acre per year.” ~~Environment Canada

and cleans the air you dirty.
“One acre of trees consumes the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to that produced by driving an average care for 26,000 miles.”~~U.S. Forest Service
My skin and bones house you.
My roots hold the earth in place for you.
The soil in your fields that grows your food is comprised of my skin of bark and leaves. Even in death I feed you.
Plowed and poisoned, plowed and poisoned until
what grows now depletes your own children
children like those who toiled for you in distant lands.

This was your next mistake: You did not know how to destroy
what needs destruction. Or when or where.
You did not understand creation as the gift of destruction. Fire and wind were your enemies. You feared the power of water.
On the contrary, fire was my friend.
Lightning a pre-ordained, blessed energy.
The fires cleared our savannahs and marshes for new growth. The lightning knew where to strike and when; dried by time, I did not fight the burn. The seasons are a precise clock. In time I would return green and sturdy.
You, running from death,
Could never stop to learn from the river’s flow and flood.
You mowed when it was time to sow.
Demolished what it was time to save.
You understood only how to ravage
but not how to prune.

Listen. You did not see, or else you feared those who shared this place with you.
That was your biggest mistake:
Yet, if you look east, west, south, north, up to the stars, down to the valley you will see. What they call you is not what you are.
Your name is only a thing on paper.
To call yourself a tree like me is more accurate
though not yet enough unless you
Listen to what speaks quietly
in both of us:
Live
Live
Live

In Honor of MLK’s Birthday

Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person. It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job; it might be in terms of helping that person to make some move in life. That’s the time you must do it. That is the meaning of love. In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual.

~Martin Luther King Jr.

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