Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sun Dappled

Yet again I am going to present with a quote from tricycle, from a writer who practices Buddhism. It is a perfect counterpoint to yesterday’s post. Yesterday I got about as “political” and judgmental as I ever want to be. I find it very difficult. I don’t believe the solution can be found in this kind of thinking, at least no solution I am interested in.

I hesitate. I seem like a Buddhist when I quote professing Buddhists like Jack Kornfield. This is like if I post Randy Newman’s lyrics about short people it would seem that I agree with them. If I post so many Buddhists, I must be a Buddhist. The truth is more diffuse. I have these quotes appear in my email box because there is so much of Buddhist thought that I do agree with, that fits my experience. However, there is much that I find difficult too. I have several books on my shelf – well, strewn around my house is more like it – on Buddhism. I try to read them and cannot. I can only take my Buddhism in small doses.

I find it much easier to chant Sanskrit to Parameshwari, to Parabhrama, to Shivaya, to Ganapatiye, to Vasudevaya, than to sit in Buddhist silence. I even find it easier to invoke the Divinities than to chant with the Tibetan Buddhists, “Om mani padme hum.”

I need Gods and Goddesses or my insides parch.

On the other hand, I am not fair to myself if I don’t also add in the years of listening to Christian radio that I did on the way back and forth to work, listening intently to make sure I was true to myself in separating from the church of my youth. I listened to gather the arguments and apologies, postures and analyses of the Christian life. I had my favorites then, a certain local Foursquare preacher from Beaverton, Ron Mell, who taught me the most about Christian compassion, Jimmy Swaggert (he on TV) for his true passion for his work (he is as rock and roll as his cousin Jerry Lee Lewis), Charles Swindoll for his suavity, his avuncular approach to the message, Pastor John MacArthur for his austerity. All these men for a variety of reasons avoid many of the parts of the Christian message that stop me in so far as this is possible. That made it possible for me to look forward to their sermons.

Still, there are times when Buddhist messages delivered in well chosen small doses cut to the quick of things and center in my heart. The mix of serenity and compassion in them is beyond compare. This next message, as I wrote at the beginning of this post, is a perfect counterpart to my last post about Dread People.

Challenge Your Whole Identity

True dharma practice is a revolutionary activity, and you can't do it in a comfortable way. You really have to challenge the whole identity of your life. But the strength that's asked for is not necessarily the strength of eliminating the impurities of body and mind, or fighting against the defilements of greed, hatred, and delusion, the inner corruptions, though this language is very common in Theravadin, Tibetan, and Zen Buddhism. The strength that's needed is the courage of heart to remain undefended and open, a willingness to touch the ten-thousand joys and the ten-thousand sorrows from our compassion, the deepest place of our being. This is a different kind of fearlessness, which requires as much or more passion and fire.

-Jack Kornfield, "The Sure Hearts Release"


Sun Dappled

Living in your shade
gives me a smaller vista
than I thought I'd have.
The sunny part works
while the rest of me takes naps,
wishes for a wrap.
I hear munching near
and begin to worry some
that my edges soon
will be food for thought.

May 16, 2009 8:54 AM


  1. Wisdom and insight comes in so many colors and flavors. To reject their influence seems counter productive. I loved this especially, "The strength that's needed is the courage of heart to remain undefended and open.." It is part and parcel to your earlier wider.

  2. I agree, Annie, that I must look in many places, feeling that I must trust my own insides since something so strong happened to them. I carry an inner template against which the rest of it measures, now trimmed and reshaped many times by years of work on top of the original vision. If I had no inner vision, then I would be forced into choosing some tradition to follow. I am grateful that I do have this inner vision. It makes the leap of faith that we all must do a smaller leap.

    On the other hand, I have always been a maverick because of this inner vision and I have the anxiety of being in a minority of people at best, and sometimes I am isolated and alone. It just depends on who is nearby.

    I quit expecting that everyone would somehow get together on this thing decades ago. That was all part of realizing that the Hippie thing was fading away and that I was going to have to go underground in straight society :)

  3. I love this idea of a template and your resolve and strength in times of aloneness are inspiring to me. You are a complicated man, and I thank the hand that led me here. I am nearby.

  4. This actually made me giggle....but I can be a little strange and quite dense at times....x

  5. Michelle, I presume you meant the poem made you giggle. The prose, while light enough, has little amusement in it. I did not really write to introduce the poem, because I was more interested in easing off the post of the day before. I presume as well that your comment on your own density was concerning how the poem fit the prose.

    It doesn't. I didn't feel the poem really needed any intro.

    You are not dense, not at least in this matter, or else I am too, because I don't really know how prose and poem fit in any but the deepest ways. I will say that there is something beneath the playful spirit of the poem that resides in the world of an open and unguarded walk through the world.

    You cannot shift your boundaries and allow mind caterpillars to munch on your edges if you are too concerned with your own dignity.

  6. You know how you sometimes want to giggle at a funeral, well......

    This whole concept sends a little chill up my spine. Seems to me that, if I look for it, there is always something out there wanting a little piece of me, so I prefer not to look for it, mostly :)

    Other times I give a little piece gladly.



The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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