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?


 

how could you not love something like that?

I was poking around one of my favourite poetry sites recently and found some of my own lines. They had been sourced from one of my other blogs.
(Sincere nods of gratitude to the curator.)

I had quite forgotten these lines (unsurprising, since you didn’t write them, says Emptiness), and reading them again delights me. Unashamedly. So I’m sharing them here.

 

Echoes from Emptiness: how could you not love something like that?

 

how could you not love something that

never leaves you
regardless of how often you ignore it?

that’s always self-shining –
never needing flint or switch or fuel?

that never changes
regardless of the vicissitudes of your daily experience?

that never takes sides
whatever person, team or nation you’re supporting,
whatever idea or opinion you hold?

that never breaks apart
even though your life appears to?

that never minds
n-e-v-e-r   m-i-n-d-s
that you spend your life running around looking for it
while it’s in your face the whole time?

how could you not love something like that?

something you can never escape,
and that’s so immanent
you are forced to accept it
as your own true identity?

how could you not then love
Y O U R S E L F ?

and everything arising
– thoughts, perceptions, memories, feelings –
within that inconceivable Self?

how could you not love that immensity which precedes
and includes all existence?

how could you not kneel at your own feet
in awe?

 

how could you pretend that your enlightened
heart-driven passion
was not the Great Passion of That
which holds the planets in their orbit?

 

how could you ignore the urge to pour
your energy and attention
into whatever opens your heart?

 

how?

 

– miriam louisa
August 2013


well-being & being well

 

Agnes Martin - Gratitude, 2001

 

There’s a mindset that runs a mythical story asserting that one’s “accomplishment” of awakening, and the attendant ease of well-being, is negated or compromised by any experience of being unwell. Beware of these myths!

Awakening is never “accomplished” or attained. It is simply a system-restore to the Natural State.

The Natural State – I call it wild wideawakeness – has no preference whatsoever for what might be being experienced by the body or the mind. It remains the essential experience, enabling and infusing all others. Its impartiality – and re-cognition of this – is what dissolves suffering and enables well-being – regardless of the passing play of one’s life.

Well-being does not depend upon being well.

It’s true that the more unshakeable one’s well-being, the more sensitive the organism becomes, bringing understanding and prompting changes that may lead to less physical and mental dysfunction. But well-being remains unaffected. Period.

I have been with frail, aged folk in heart-wrenching discomfort and pain and fully aware of the approach of their end days, who were aglow with well-being.

I have been with a close friend when she received a diagnosis that would strike terror into the heart of most people; she exuded such well-being that her surgeons and friends were at once amazed and relieved. (She has now fully recovered.)

I have been with myself during debilitating illness, pain, grief. At these times the litmus test for the extent of my freedom is a little inquiry: am I suffering?

And I have to say no; I can no longer find a solid-state ‘person’ here who could own a story about suffering.

If there is illness, no problem – I’ll seek help, I’ll take the medicine, but I won’t suffer.

Well-being is unaffected.
Well-being is the Natural State.
The Natural State is what one is.

Because the Natural State is ever-present and inescapable, accepting the entire array of experience without question, I’ve come to know it as Love. Love Divine. 

Whatever you call it – God, Divine Presence, Love, Suchness, The Great Perfection, Beloved – you are naming yourself and the entirety of your experience.

Along with everyone and everything else…

 


Painting by Agnes Martin, Gratitude, 2001. Courtesy of the Tate Gallery, London.


three haiku from cloud mountain hermitage

At the beginning of this month I moved into an old (but beautifully renovated) farm cottage on Kiels Mountain, on the Sunshine Coast hinterland, Queensland, Australia. It is high enough to attract rain and mist, which are welcome visitors so far as the rainforest and its inhabitants are concerned.

 

Echoes from Emptiness: Kiels Mountain rainforest hermitage

 

And in spite of being only a few kilometers from local villages, the beach and coastal busyness, it has the feel of remoteness. It is my Cloud Mountain, and I am a happy hermit. In my morning scribblings, haiku begin to appear:

 

Mistiness in close –
drowning out my loneliness,
a Currawong choir.

 

Lost; an innocent
here, in spacious aloneness –
something Wild finds me.

 

Alone in the bush,
befriended by Beingness,
I stop asking why.

 


Image credit


the myth of merging

353

Expressing the inexpressible is so tricky.  As soon as words are uttered – or even thought – there’s duality by default, and the inexpressible is nondual by default.

Poets often speak of merging into oneness but this is misleading and mistaken, because, well, oneness being one, who or what could be outside it to “merge”?

There’s no merging involved in wild wideawakeness.  There’s just a waking up to the realization that nothing has ever been divided up – except by thought and language.

Wild wideawakeness embraces the totality of creation – as you, in you, and believe it or not – thanks to you.

~

never will you meet such an unapologetic narcissist

343

I settle on my zafu
poised as the Presence
of a world displayed –
a world whose appearance
is wholly dependent upon
the sensory capacity
here, yet without location
anywhere

I marvel that after turning up
for more than 300 mornings,
pen-in-hand and heart-at-the-ready,
words still spill themselves
out of the silent emptiness
on the other side of thought
as fresh and fecund as on day
one

There is no author here –
my authorship could never sustain such
freshness for even a fortnight.
I’d bore myself to tears and quickly move on.

Wild wideawakeness is simply singing
soulfully
to itself in the mirror.

A small hand
holding an old-fashioned Waterman fountain pen
scribbles the opening libretto:

Everywhere I look
I see
laid out in luscious
lu-mi-no-si-ty
the miracle
of unknowable
Me!

I’m cracking up at the audacity when out of nowhere a gleeful chorus pipes up:

It’s a new dawn
it’s a new day
it’s a new life for Me
and I’m feelin’ good!*

[Never will you meet such an unapologetic narcissist!]

~

*from Feeling Good, by Peter Schick