Monthly Archives: February 2013

divine states & near enemies

untitled

Four divine states: 

  • Loving-kindness and friendliness – Learning to love life in all its forms, unconditionally.
  • Compassion and empathy– the resonance of our heart with the suffering of another.
  • Sympathetic joy and rejoicing – the felt joy in the happiness of others within this world of impermanence.
  • Equanimity and peace of mind – the heart being open to all things; embracing impermanence and the inseparable nature of joy/ suffering.

The Near Enemies:

  • Attachment – has within it a sense of separation.  It can grow into clinging, controlling, and fear.

It often happens, so it seems to me, that the lack of knowledge is the cause of a great deal of pride…if it is a thing that pleases you in the past, there will arise in you a strong delight when thinking about that thing, whatever it may be.  If you remain with that thought and eventually fasten your heart and your will to it, and if you feed your fleshly heart with it so that you feel at that moment that you desire nothing else but to live in tranquility with the thing of which you are thinking; and if this thought that you draw in this way upon yourself or that you receive when it is brought to you and held with pleasure, if this thought concerns the great wealth of your nature, or your knowledge, or your grace or degree, or your beauty in appearance, then it is pride. ~Progoff, Ira, The Cloud of Unknowing

  • Pity – feeling sorry for “that poor person over there” as if s/he were different from us, whereas, true compassion is the resonance of our heart with the suffering of another.
  • Comparison – looking to see if we have more of, the same as, or less than another – it creates separation fed by envy and resentment or by anxiety and self doubt.
  • Indifference – distancing one’s self from others.  The voice of indifference withdrawal and says, “Who cares, I’m not going to let it affect me.”

Leave a comment

Filed under photography, spirituality

memory hidden within silence

family

a butterfly

flutters past–my body feels

the dust of ages ~Issa

my father also

studied these high mountains

from his winter hut ~Issa

At the threshold of stillness within silence, the scent of mothballs signals the opening of a small steamboat trunk entrusted with long-forgotten memorabilia.  Carefully placed upon a layer of women’s 1930 era clothing are three stacks of yellow ribbon-tied envelopes. Within each are hand-written letters reminiscent of second grade penmanship inquiring, “Dear Mother, how are you?  Fine I hope.”  On the left side is a stationery box filled with certificates of marriage, birth, baptism, and death intermingled with a child’s brilliantly colored drawings. Beneath the box is a small silk sachet holding a solitary diamond engagement ring and an ivory locket.  At the bottom of the trunk, children’s books and wooden blocks with carved letters surround a miniature wooden rocking chair and a one-button eyed velvety-patched teddy bear. I become distracted from the remaining contents as black and white photograph images softly held within the folds of a woman’s garnet silk dress glide in the air and scatter upon the floor.

bren

The photographic images are a visual memoir of a young family where trust once allowed two young sisters to roam free throughout a field of tall, yellowed grass.  “How many days,” my questioning mind wonders, “how many days were left before the decline of my father’s health shifted the lights of a colorful present into the gray-shaded time of waiting?” Within this stillness of waiting, memory tells of a young child seeking solace through repetitive rocking behaviors and of a father’s fragile heart enduring a turbulent wait for a donated aorta.

my dad

Loving-kindness and compassion soften the shield around my heart and I begin to feel how my father intuitively knew of my inner turmoil and of the tranquil stillness within rhythmic repetition.   His gift of a rocking chair tells me some fifty years after his death of the multiple emotional and physical sufferings within his suffering, the interconnectedness of the suffering within the family, and of his wish to ease our suffering.

The 22nd of February is the anniversary of my father’s birth; his memory  hidden within silence.

this world of dew

is only the world of dew `

and yet … oh and yet … ~ Issa

Issa haiku cited in:

The Spring of  My Life and Selected Haiku

Kobayashi Issa

Trans:  Sam Hamill

4 Comments

Filed under haiku, musings, photography, spirituality, Uncategorized

entangled by our individual kammic threads

Closed minds and hearts are the result of a failure of trust.

a line of trees

As my reflective mind enters the memories of my childhood self, the words of Padmasiridi De Silva come to mind: “Death of a loved one disturbs the relationships that sustain a person’s sense of ‘identity’ and the high level of binding and cathexis concentrated on the person who is lost is suddenly disrupted . . . there is a close link between the doctrines of egolessness and suffering.”  Through this lens of Buddhist thought, I begin to feel an understanding of how my father’s absolute and final absence from our lives disrupted the multiple relationships between my father, mother, sister, and me.  Besides the sudden severing of the identity I was forming via my father, the connecting emotional threads between those of us that were left, although still intact, were unknowingly stretched and pulled by our own individual fears of egolessness.

My father’s death left my mother, a young woman deaf from infancy, with two daughters and pregnant with her first son.  I do not recall whose idea it was to wander outside the house early that morning as my mother slept.  I can, however, imagine my young self following my older sister as if an invisible thread that tied us together tugged me along as she, with her five-year-old world view, undertook an emotional duty to find our father.  Did we believe we could find our father fly fishing in the creek that ran alongside the house? Or was there something about the water that enticed us into abandoning our search? I can recall to this day the cessation of anxiety and arising rapture that coincided with my surrender to the inevitable. Two young men, I am told, rescued us both from this search.

Shortly after the death of my father my mother remarried, and by the time I was seven years old, she was divorced and pregnant with her fifth child.  Her fourth child, taken by his father in the dark of night, vanished within the tangled web of adults who regressed into childlike behaviors under incompetent custody laws.

My reflective mind recalls the unbound inquisitiveness that carried my seven-year-old emotional self into the house from school knowing on that day my mother’s fifth child was to be born.  I can still feel the internal rebound that coincides with walking into an unseen plate of glass as my being absorbed, not the tone of grief, but the intensity of frustration within my grandmother’s assertion, “The baby died!”

The Buddha’s recommendation to abstain from false speech is found in the position that people connect with one another within an atmosphere of mutual trust, where each draws upon the belief that the other will speak the truth.  It is suggested therefore that families and societies will fall into chaos as one untruth shatters trust, as it is the nature of lies to proliferate through attempts to weave a harmonious tapestry of reality.

When I reflect upon those times in which I experience an intense urge to say other than what I believe is true, I know it is fed by the anxiety intrinsic to uncertainty, and inherent with the aloneness of expulsion. At other times, the drive seems to come from a sense of nothingness that seeks validation through inclusion with others or continuity within mangled and haphazard memories. It feels as though it is an act that preserves or ensures a sense of control, power, or protection.

What this force blinds me to is the powerlessness that coincides with the telling of an untruth, as well as the emotional separation that overlaps the fear of discovery.  It also creates the need for another story to support the one prior.  Therefore, the beliefs that compel me to lie are but a layer of lies within a lie.

The intensity of my grandmother’s words served to erect an unbreakable barrier: “This is not to be spoken of,” and thus a door of understanding remained closed between us throughout the remainder of her life.  It is her handwriting within a book authored by one of her older sisters that allowed me to come to to an understanding of her as a woman who suffered less at the hands of others than from an unforgiving ego fettered to her own grief, shame, remorse, and guilt.  Therefore, I have become acquainted with a woman whose own suffering blinded her to the threads of grief and loss my three-year-old self had previously woven into a tapestry of death and to the subsequent re-weaving of the incongruence between my father’s going to heaven, my brother’s disappearance, the baby’s death, and the near-drowning of my older sister and I.  Two weeks after my grandmother declared the baby dead, my infant sister–but not my father or my brother–returned to the family.

Thus, one false belief in a series of untrue concepts begot a childhood paradigm of ignorance derived from hearts and minds closeted by anxiety, shame, guilt, and anger.  Another aspect to this recollection is the total absence of my mother within the series of events surrounding my sister’s birth, death, and resurrection. It is as if she was seated in the audience, unseen and unknown, while my grandmother, my baby sister, and I were string-puppets entangled by our individual kammic threads.

5 Comments

Filed under art, musings, photography, psychology, spirituality

disappearance will come soon

window within a window

Nagagi Wango says: 

The wealth of this life is like the honey of bees

Although they collect it, it will be enjoyed by others

The gathering of relatives and friends are like the meetings of guest

Although they are together, they will go their separate ways

Life is impermanent like dew on the tops of grass

Although we are here, our disappearance will come soon

The Lord of Death is like spies

Day and night seeing an opportunity to get us

The phenomena of this life are like being about to awaken from a dream

They are transitory and momentary, and we will go, leaving them all.

The karma of cause and effect, like our shadow

Will always follow after us

Therefore people with wise minds

Follow the path of liberation from this very day.

5 Comments

Filed under art, musings, photography, spirituality

accept the seasons of the heart

leaf

And a woman spoke, saying, Tell us of Pain.

And he said:

 

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;

And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.

And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

 

Much of your pain is self-chosen.

It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.

Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.

For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen.

And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.

 

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Leave a comment

Filed under art, photography, psychology, spirituality, Uncategorized

weekly photo challenge: home

In this  new WordPress weekly challenge   share a picture that evokes HOME for you.

A Meditative Journey Home

 home

Before me I see a clearing illuminated by the rays of the morning sun.  As I step into the clearing, I feel warmth of the sun’s touch and see a house centered within a field of harvest-ready wheat and question, “is this home?”

As I make my way through the wheat field, I find three ancient keys lying within a dust-filled furrow.  Silver is the first key.  A knowing tells me it opens a door to a space of tranquil abiding.  Gold is the second key.  It gives admission to a room of healing serenity.  Diamonds make up the third key.  It unlocks a keepsake of my remembrances.

The awakened groan of the wood planks welcome me as I step onto the weathered porch that surrounds the house.  I find that the silver key fits the lock of an entryway door.  Before I open the door and step over the threshold, I feel compelled to turn around and, with non-judgmental awareness, attend to and then put aside all that I see within and beyond the wheat field.

My consciousness rides upon my in-breath like a white kite riding upon the breeze traveling through a cloudless blue sky. It momentarily pauses in midair as my mind touches the in-between.  Consciousness rides upon my out-breath like a red kite riding upon the breeze traveling through a cloudless blue sky.  Again, it waits in midair as my body senses the in-between.  Together, consciousness, body, and mind move in unison with the spirit of my breath.

I step over the threshold and feel an inviting atmosphere of affectionate acceptance that encourages me to wander unencumbered throughout the interior of the house.

I find myself at the bottom of a stairway, which I ascend. On the second floor I enter a room lightened by the light of the midday sun entering a picture window painted by the landscape that extends to where the blue ridge of the sky touches the earth’s multi-green jagged horizon.  Opposite to the window is a ceiling-to-floor bookcase lined with books, aged and worn.  The warmth within this room embraces me with stillness, silence, and clarity.  My eyes light upon a small trunk and I know that it is for me.  As I pick up the trunk I find that it is light and fits with ease into the cradle of my arm.

I leave this room and again walk about the house.  I find that the gold key opens a door to a central room of calm solitude.  Stepping into this room I sense the presence of a compassionate being who introduces herself as Sophia, the aged guardian of the innermost things, “my heart hears the wordless tears and fears within your heart and feels the quiver of your heart-filled joys.  You have entered the hearth of your home, an ancient site of healing.”

I sit comfortably on the floor and open the trunk with the third key.  As I explore the contents, I understand that they are mementos of my life’s journey.  My consciousness, mind, and body move in unison with the moment of my breath’s spirit as I hold one keepsake after another. I acknowledge the memories, images, feelings that each memento evokes with the reminder that I am in a space of healing serenity and that I am not alone.

I feel a slight tugging within my heart as dark memories hidden within darker shadows accept the invitation to ride upon the in-breath of the compassionate guardian.   With their departure, my body releases long-held tears.  With my in-breath, I hear her whisper, “This is a time of healing transformation”, and I feel a wondrous golden energy spread throughout my body.

A calling beckons me from beyond this house that feels like home. I hear permission to leave with a chosen remembrance or to place whatever arose back in the trunk.  I step over the threshold; I feel an invitation to return whenever I wish.

The porch step invites me to engage in a mindful transition.  My consciousness rides upon my out-breath like a white kite riding upon the breeze traveling through a cloudless blue sky. It momentarily pauses in midair as my mind touches the in-between. My consciousness rides upon my in-breath like a red kite riding upon the breeze traveling through a cloudless blue sky. Again, it awaits in midair as my body senses the in-between.  Together, consciousness, body, and mind move in unison with the spirit of my breath.

The ancient wisdom of the hearth invites me to portray this meditation through a form of artistic expression of my choice; e.g., drawing, poetry, quilting, collage, needlework, story writing, painting, sculpture, gardening, weaving.  I place my creation within the pages of this book.

14 Comments

Filed under art, photo challenge, photography, psychology, spirituality, Uncategorized

speak to us of children

single leaf

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.

And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

~The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran

2 Comments

Filed under photography, spirituality, Uncategorized

weekly photo challenge: unique

unique1In a new post specifically created for this challenge, share a picture that says UNIQUE to you.

The point we emphasize is strong confluence in our original nature. ~ Shunryu Suzuki

unique9

unique

unique7

unique6

unique5

unique2

unique3

unique4

18 Comments

Filed under art, photo challenge, photography, spirituality