zen moments of the senior kind

Happy Hermit

 

The continuation of the spiritual journey really depends on how crazy we’re willing to be.
– Reggie Ray

I had no idea I’d end up this crazy. Or this contented. Or this fulfilled. Don’t ask me about happiness – it’s a sub-category these days. Imagine being happy to be unhappy? Imagine being contented to feel like shit? Imagine being at peace with pain and weariness? Imagine being ok with depression, flatness, confusion? If this isn’t your version of liberation I totally understand. (We all start out on this journey imagining ‘waking up’ will magically erase all discomfort from our experience.)

But this absurd liberation lives here, and this is what the crazy cow offers tonight: five three-liners of the slightly nonsensical variety. They like to think they are haiku, but would duck and hide in the presence of ‘real’ haiku. Apologies for my warping of noble zen aphorisms, koans and haiku. I mean no disrespect; after all these years they are deeply embroidered in the fabric of this brain and have a life of their own.

My sanity does too. Where the hell did I put it?


old flesh, old bones

on the zafu, aches come and go

just like I used to

~

weary old mind

data flows in, data drops out

plop!

~

music to my ears…

the sound of someone else

chopping

~

puddle on zafu

old cow’s melted-down stories

moo!

~

relentless koan:

what is the sound of my neighbor’s dog

barking?

 

~

 


About the image.  This delightful brush drawing comes from the cover of an exhibition catalogue: L’Au-delà dans l’art japonaise. Paris 1963. Nowhere in the book does it mention the name of the artist whose work is featured on the cover. My instincts tend towards Sengai… what do you think?


 

have you got a minute?

 

I’d like to invite you to sit down
right now,
for just one minute,
and not entertain one thought.

 

Can you do that?

 

Can you feel the coolness
that wafts through your entire
Presence
when you stop thinking?

 

Not “stop … and”
not “stop … then”
not “stop … so that”
but just stop.

 

Stop.

 

Everything you’ve ever longed for
is waiting for you
in that pause.

 

The cogs and gears of the “me project”
grind to a halt.
The engineers maintaining the scaffolding of the self
take a smoko.
The universe itself sighs,
so gladdened to see an earth angel
hold the claws of thought apart
for even one minute.

 

And every cell in your always-fully-awake body
lights up with a smile: “Now, at last,
we can bow before our own experience
and dance our destiny!”

 

You can do it.

 

It’ll only take a minute.

 

One thought-free minute equals one minute of full wideawakeness
or, one minute of intimacy with what the Buddha knew.
(Did you know that?)

 

You just need to want to meet the Truth of your life
more than you want to entertain a thought about it.

 


[entertain: v.t. Maintain (correspondence, discourse) Concise Oxford Dictionary]


Calligraphy by Jakusho Kwang, Roshi

it was a damn good deal

Ceramic sculpture by Haejin Lee

 

Until I woke up
to my unconscious insatiable insanity
it was the tireless weaver
of the fabric of my life.

It wasn’t enough to have mentally unpicked
and clearly seen-through
the myth and mirage
of the solid-state ‘me’ story.

Unconscious residue of that ‘me’
I thought was done and dusted
remained, and so, another unpicking began
– a second-level unpicking if you like.

Waking up to what one isn’t is utterly mind shifting.
It’s tempting to rest in the inevitable sweet relief;
it’s tempting to assume one has attained
the ultimate wisdom.

Yet, although thought likes to tell itself otherwise,
the thrust of cellular conditioning forges on
below the limn,
obvious to everyone but oneself.

I am driven by curiosity –
especially concerning creativity and freedom.
What might I not know about this multi-layered energetic playground
called my life? An investigation was called for.

I saw how the old unconscious imprints
ran deep; how their effects can’t be denied
yet are avoided, by-passed, rationalised
by a self-idea facing sure extinction.

Have you ever unpicked knitting?
You take the single thread responsible for the fabric’s form
and simply pull. The stitches unravel with ease.
If there’s a knot, you tease it free.

Just like that: I grasped the master lie,
and pulled. Stitch by stitch the network of neurology
unravelled. Each stitch was an imprint of pain:
fear, anger or grief.

Separation ceased as each imprint was fully felt
without one word being brought to the alchemy.
(Commentary, analysis, explanation
are neither required nor helpful.)

The howling insatiability that fuelled
my craziness was slowly sated. An incomprehensible
fulfilment surfaced that has no idea what words like
sanity or insanity might mean.

These days I find it absurd to claim that I am
anything – even “That”, or “Life”, or “Nothing”.
To say “I am” is a lie, yet as a sage once observed,
“the universe is myself”.

The universe chuckles to itself:
“It was a damn good deal – an imaginary ‘me’ for an immensity!
It only cost me everything … and everything
came back, marked perfect, wondrous, eternal.”

 


“I am not, but the universe is myself.” – Shih-T’ou, A.D. 700-790


Ceramic sculpture by Haejin Lee


 

on turning seventy three

 

alone in my hut

[no one here to invent me]

eyeballing emptiness

 

Rainbow Lorikeet hovering by Trevor Andersen

 

Seventy three missions

around the sun and not

one thing of worldly value

to show for it.

 

No savvy safety-nets:

investment portfolios, insurance policies,

plans A, B and C.  I walk the way

of not-knowing and wonderment.

 

Lofty notions of enlightenment, bliss,

exalted understanding have no buyer here;

I’ll take this uninvited, serene,

free and priceless fulfilment.

 

See, today I heard the air sing

as it danced through the rainbow wings

of a Lorikeet suspended

in space.

 

Today I watched cumulonimbus

massing in the west, those

sculpted edges alive with flaming gold

as the sun went down.

 

Tonight, as dusk fell

bringing cool relief to the sweating forest

I giddily inhaled a draught

laden with night-scented Jessamine.

 

And it is enough. Whatever may lie ahead

for this beloved bag of bones

the simple sensuous joy of being Presence

 

is enough.

 


Rainbow Lorikeet hovering. Photograph by Trevor Andersen.


alive . aware . presence

Miriam Louisa Simons - Breathscribe series: I am here, detail

 

This year
on the day they call Christmas
Team Emelle wakes up
wondrously severed
from its culture’s insidious story
about stars and shepherds
wise men, stables and saviours.

 

Team Emelle is curiously deaf
to the seductive calls
of collective consciousness
to make of this date something special.
It greets the day with a deep bow,
celebrating its everyday sanctity
with gratitude and wonderment.

 

It tends the Great Light
known as Primordial Wisdom Awareness
(as befits its Dharma name, Yeshe)
with its own private rituals
custom-created
on its unique journey
through time’s long now.

 

It tends creation’s original Word
by sitting,
breathing,
in solitary, silent, stillness.
Breath is its prayer
and its practice.
Breath.

 

It tends the manger
in the Heart’s stable
– the soul’s sanctuary –
where the ever newly-born,
uncorrupted
Child
dwells in comfort and safety.

 

Team Emelle doesn’t buy
into the marketplace mindset.
It knows of only one present sure
to give happiness and joy,
one (omni)present that can’t be bought,
wrapped, given or owned…

 

a l i v e  .  a w a r e  .  p r e s e n c e

 


Artwork by Miriam Louisa Simons – Breathscribe series: I am here, detail.

Since the Miriam Louisa composite is made up of of many characters, to say nothing of 37.2 trillion cells and a roughly equal population of bacteria, I have come to think of it as Team Emelle.
Emelle = ML
ML = Miriam Louisa
All smiling and bowing at you right now!


Primordial Wisdom Awareness is also known as The Great Perfection


wholly whole and holy

ma deva padma - existence

 

So.  Here we are.  Sitting upon our lotus-leaf

pondering the paradox

that there is no inner and outer to this experience

of exist-ing.

Not only is the fabric of our being

felted from the Primordial Awareness we can’t

escape,

but every appearance we consider

‘other’

is similarly ex-pressed from that source.

And if there’s no inside/outside,

no this/that

no me/other

it means this:

there’s nowhere to hide

 

We love to think that our quiet denial

of the pain too unspeakable to countenance,

is safely hidden from view.

 

Or, and this is more common,

we are no longer aware of it

as it vibrates below the limn

of our consciousness.

 

Perhaps we stitch together satisfying stories about

our awakened understanding.

(Or the absence thereof.)

Yet in moments of self-honesty we can see:

our scars go before us

laying out the trajectory of our lives.

 

Every stitch in the tapestry

of our magnificent ‘me’

is displayed across the cosmos.

 

All is known.

Because there’s nowhere for anything

to hide.

 

This is exquisite.

It’s a realisation that throws open the possibility

that the wound we have spent a lifetime

avoiding, can become the catalyst

for an unimaginable new View.

 

How come?

 

No inside/outside, remember?

No separation, remember?

Only One immeasurable inconceivable Whole is happening.

It’s like an eyeless eye.

 

It

knows Itself

intimately, lovingly

in all the discarded, denied details

of our every wound,

every misdeed and regret,

every choked-back emotion,

every failure to love…

 

and still It loves us

nourishes

holds

and

lives us

 

so

 

how could we not be safe?

we can come out

we can stand up

we can own up

we can shine

 

wholly whole and holy

 


 

Sorry to shout.   But this matters.  Evidence of unintegrated primal pain is displayed for all to see across our world at this time.  Imagine what the scene would be like if emotionally mature grown-ups were carrying the best interests of humanity forward, rather than beings frozen at the age of three?  This is probably as close as I will ever come to making a political statement.

 


Image copyright Ma Deva Padma, Existence, from the Osho Zen Tarot


my tuppence-worth

One of my father’s nick-names for me was ‘Tuppence.’  Perhaps it was because I was always eager to offer my “tuppence-worth” (i.e., the state-of-the-world according to my all-knowing self), and irritatingly persistent with my questions – “But why?” “Who says so?”  When he was really mad at me he’d say, “For two pence I’d give you the hiding of your life!”  I was always relieved no one came along with those pennies.

I never out-grew the tendency towards contrariness and insatiable curiosity.  From here I regard them as having been essential companions – both tools and fuel – on the rather erratic life path that unfolded for the ‘Tuppence’ character.

The days when I held court in my pram are ancient history, but the questions that matter for me remain fresh and alive.  My responses to them are an ever-morphing ontology.  Here’s the current version – a crone’s tuppence-worth.

 

Tuppence (Miriam Louisa)

Tuppence in her pram: Well then. What’s this all about?

 

What does the “God” word mean for you?

The Unknowable

dressed up and dancing as the knowable.

Is Consciousness all there is?

I don’t know.

I can only say it’s all I ever experience.

But what knows the contents of Consciousness?

You’ll never find it.

(You’ll never escape it either.)

What is “enlightenment”?

An idea those who believe they are not already fully alight

like to entertain.

“Already fully alight” – how can one know that?

It can’t be known.

It’s quietly evident when all hunger for knowing drops away.

Can there be a partial or ‘damaging’ awakening?

Presence is already perfectly and completely just so.

But ideas about it can be experienced as wrong/bad/incomplete.

The sages say the observer is the observed. How is that so?

I’ve spent a lifetime on this koan…

I only ever experience all-inclusive observing.

Is there an Almighty God?

Too constricted and limited a notion, I’d say.

How about an Unlimited and Almighty Godding?

Is it true there’s “only One”?

From the perspective of Presence,

One is one too many.

Is there a purpose to life?

I ask Life. It grins:

Get onstage – it’s The Full Monty and you’re the star!

What is death?

That’s easy because I’ve been across and had a look.

It’s a little side-step, from one theatre into another.

Is it true that thoughts create reality?

Reality transcends thinking entirely.

However, thoughts and beliefs determine the quality of experience.

Is life a dream?

Maybe.

We’d know if we could find a dreamer.

What is surrender?

Abdication. Effortless, voluntary relinquishment

of the ME-project.

Is the world an illusion?

If it is

you’re the magician.

What’s the difference between illusion and delusion?

Illusion is the mirage in the desert;

delusion is believing it’s real.

Is there anything sacred?

Nothing knowable

could ever be sacred.

Is it true that “I am That?”

No.

You are the glorious “am”.

Are there any true concepts?

I don’t know

any.

Is there any valid aspiration / intention?

Yes.

K I N D N E S S

What is freedom?

Being 100% present as the capacity for passionate engagement with life

and not minding what happens.

What brings your greatest fulfilment?

Nothing ever brings fulfilment.

It’s one’s natural state when there’s no need of fulfilment.

And your deepest peace?

S I L E N C E

(no contest)

Do you have any plans?

The GPS is set to nth – now! this! here!

Presence is driving.

What is Grace?

The Beloved

sneaking up for a kiss.

What are you?

I am whatever Presence wants to be

in response to whatever It meets.

 


[The words Awareness, Presence, the Unknowable, Reality, Grace, the Beloved, all point to the same ‘thing’. Except it’s not a thing. If anything (ha!) it’s an event-ing.
I like the Godding word; I might patent that one!]