Poem – Tea house

tea garden

The Tea garden
isn’t a garden
but a path.
It is how you get to the
Tea house
for the
Tea ceremony.

Why not have the Tea room closer?
Why a garden?
Why a path?

Because you aren’t ready.
You need that time,
that space,
to take off your
everyday self
and to welcome
the stillness
and attention
that is the Tea ceremony.

You need that compressed walk
to the hermit’s hut
at the base of the mountain.
You need to pass through gates
real and hinted at.
You need to sit
on a low bench, sheltered with bamboo
long enough to shake off
the dust of the outside.

Why not have that experience all the time?
Why not be that cleansed,
that alert
that awake
always ready to welcome
everything
as a message
from God, the Creator, the Infinite?

Are there jobs that pay for
that kind of bliss?
Are there relatives who won’t
call the authorities,
worried you are out of your mind
when in reality
you are the only sane one?

By giving up your Self
and merging with
the All
you have truly
Remembered.

still point

Being calm is like being in a small rowboat on a large lake. The motorboats speed by. The waves hit the boat. They threaten to overwhelm it.

The energy from unhappy people is exactly the same. You can choose how it affects you. Do you stand up in your boat and jump up and down, angry that they disturbed your peaceful morning? Doing that only upsets it more.

You can choose to affect them by your actions as well. You can be a force for good by remaining calm. You aren’t adding to the ripples.

When a child falls, he will often look to his parents to see what to do. If they freak out, so will he. If they handle it calmly, so will he. Sick people need to see how to deal with bad situations by watching healthy people deal with them well.

The more peaceful I get, the crazier the world seems to get. It doesn’t seem fair. They should get peaceful along with me. Maybe with time. Meanwhile, I’m trying not to let them rock my boat too much.

This is the same as becoming sober. You don’t notice everybody is drunk until you stop being drunk. Then they are annoying. You don’t notice how everybody reeks of cigarette smoke until you quit smoking.

The trick is to stay calm. Stay sober. Stay peaceful.

Answer the anger with a smile. Don’t yield to it. To yield to it, to agree with it, to follow it is to feed it, to give it energy.

The feeling of anger can be like a bell, calling us to prayer. It can be a reminder to still ourselves and find our center. In this way, a bad situation is sanctified. In this way, pain is a teacher and a friend.

You neutralize a flame with wind or water.

I’m trying to be a calm presence at work, where most of the unbalanced people are. There is still a lot of griping, even though the unhealthy managers are gone. I’m starting to realize that some people aren’t happy unless they are unhappy. Being miserable is their normal. Happiness scares them.

But boy are they harshing my mellow.

Poem – the green tree in our hearts

There is a
green tree in my heart
and in finding it
I have found another way.

Remember what you are?
Your body is the source of a
stream wider than memory,
deeper than tears.

Even if you forget
that you were once
a frog swimming
in your mother’s dreams
you’ll remember this.

Look for the source
and you’ll find the tree

taller than daydreams
deeper than bones
it grows
inside your heart.

From it issues the
blueprint,
the skeleton,
the framework
of who you are.

It is your
beginning
and
the way forward.

It provides your base
from which to grow.

Water it well,
little frog.
It will sing to you
when nobody else will.

The samsara bug. Or not.

Last night we slept in the living room. It is like camping out, but with indoor plumbing and minus the bugs. Sometimes you have to do something different.

In the middle of the night I heard this “thwop-thwop” sound and realized a bug was in the room, stuck between the windows and the curtains. He was trying to get to the light outside, but was prevented by the glass. He also couldn’t get out into the room because of the curtain. He seemed a little upset/crazed by this, judging from the frequency of the sound.

I thought about this. I could get up and catch him, and release him outside, which would mean going out the back door because there was no porch light on. Or, I could ignore him. He chose to come inside my house when all of the great outdoors was available to him.

I chose the latter. It wasn’t easy. He was kind of annoying, smacking up against the window. He was noisy and persistent.

I started to think that he was like some people I know, where I feel like they need “fixing”. I feel like they are in the wrong place and I need to help them out. But by letting them work out things for themselves I’m honoring their path. By leaving them alone, I’m respecting that their way is their way, and even though it looks totally stupid to me, it is their way and I need to back off.

This is a new way to think for me. I’m not sure if I learned to be a busybody from my family or from my peer group or if it is just part of who I am. It isn’t very nice. It doesn’t honor people where and how I find them. Just because they are doing things differently from me doesn’t mean they are doing them wrong.

So, I was trying this with this bug. It is kind of strange having a philosophical discussion with yourself in the middle of the night, but there I was.

Then the “thwop-thwop” sound stopped. He got free of the curtain. For a brief moment I was happy for him. Was this like a soul escaping samsara, the wheel of reincarnation? He was free, no longer trapped by his wild need to get to the light which he would never reach.

Then he flew into the ceiling fan and I didn’t hear him anymore.

So much for philosophy.

On stained glass windows – part one.

I read a meditation recently that said that stained glass windows are made of broken and imperfect pieces, that when put together make a beautiful picture. The meditation went on to express that this is the same as us in the hands of God – that we are broken and imperfect, but when we join together, God makes us into something beautiful.

Except it doesn’t work like that. Stained glass windows aren’t made from broken and imperfect pieces. There is nothing random about what happens. Each piece is specially cut for the job. The entire picture is known at the beginning, and each piece is planned out by a master craftperson. The pieces aren’t broken. There are no accidents. They may look irregular, and only make sense once they are assembled into the whole, but there is nothing random about the pieces. They were cut into that shape for a reason.

Each one of us is odd, and has irregular edges. We are sharp in places, emotionally and mentally. We are round in places too. We are weird and random sometimes. But we are made that way. We were created, each of us, to be exactly the way we are. When God joins us together we can be shaped into something pretty amazing.

But then there is more to stained glass windows. They come alive when light is shining through them. This, metaphorically, is the light of God. The windows can have a beautiful picture of an instructive scene, but it doesn’t catch your eye and inspire you until it is lit up with sunlight. We too are the same. We transform when we are lit up by God.

When we allow God to get involved in our lives we are changed. We are stronger, better, brighter. We can join together to defeat hunger, cure diseases, and make the world better. We can join together to stop war. God (or the Creator, or Spirit) is the light that sparks us as individuals, and the glue that holds us individuals together.

So sure – go with that stained glass image. But know that there is nothing accidental, and that the pieces aren’t irregular or broken. We are made the way we are because that is the way we are needed.

It isn’t here.

It isn’t about the tree that Buddha sat under.
You won’t find enlightenment no matter how long you sit there.
Go find your own tree.
Or a rock.
Or an island
in the middle of a freeway.

The birthplace of Jesus shouldn’t be a pilgrimage site.
It isn’t the place. The place doesn’t matter.
That it happened is what matters.

Don’t charge admission to truth.
Don’t sell tickets to joy.

Where any enlightened person walked or lived or taught should be forgotten.
You can’t learn from ghosts in places.

Follow who they followed, back to the root.
Who is at the beginning?
Who is at the source?

You don’t have to go to the holy land.
Black Elk tells us that
the holy land is everywhere.

Right here, right where you are,
put a plaque. Memorialize it for future generations.

Have it say “I am here”

And then burn it down.