• The Stream of Consciousness – Polishing Buddha’s Mirrors


    “As the prince sat under the fig tree, he felt the effects of his encounters with old age, illness, and death drift away. Dimly at first, he became aware that his life, which had brought him from the seclusion of the palace to the harsh world outside and then to extreme suffering and deprivation, was not his only life. He had lived many times before, and those earlier lives now came floating back to him, strange lives of animals and of humans, thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of them. And his lives were not the only things to multiply. The world that had so shocked him was not the only world, but one of many worlds he was now able to behold.”

    Martin Puchner
    The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization

    Buddha’s Mirrors

    imagine two mirrors; radiating
    in concentric circles
    left and right with
    you in between

    focus on Buddha’s vision
    the countless worlds
    the many lives
    the hundreds
    of thousands

    With quick circular motions; scrub the lenses free of the negative aspects of the current reality.

  • Paco – Café Au Lait


    Café Au Lait

    The father was satisfied as long as he had his cup of coffee in the morning. The mother would get up early and roast fresh beans in an iron pan in the oven, turning them over as they toasted dark brown. With the essence sweating from the beans, a precious oil, still hot, she’d grind them in a hand-mill. Sitting at a spindle-chair, gazing out the window, she’d turn the mill on her lap ever so slowly, grinding until the beans turned to a fine powder that filled the hand machine’s drawer.

    After the pot of water on the stove heated to a boil, she’d throw the fresh grounds in, creating a spume. Removing the pot immediately from the flame, she’d strain the liquid through a small windsock, a cotton sieve looped to a wooden handle with wire. She called it the colador.

    Pouring the coffee through the strainer right into the cup, she would then boil milk, letting it, too, foam to the top of the saucepan. The lait would explode into a froth that she’d quickly pour over the coffee. Some mornings she would make a little for the children, sweetening it with extra sugar.

    Originally published on: Oct 18, 2014 

  • Paco – Biarritz



    across the Charente | the gray Opel follows the coastline to the Spanish frontier; San Sebastián | Paco remembers those days gray; his memories in black and white—photos | it is not unusual

    the family on holiday; driving through France, across Spain and Monte Carlo along the way | stop to visit Rosin | on the outskirts of Biarritz  ::Rosin was beautiful, a pale flower; stricken with infantile paralysis; immobile | the doctors said she was blind | but the mother swore she saw the child’s eyes follow her around the room; sitting comatose in a wheelchair | Rosin reminded Paco of a sad rag doll

    at the spa, the huge swimming pool for rehabilitation | bottom painted blue; but reflects the sky a monochrome Ansel Adams | in a young mind (again the black and white | photos kept in family albums) | a great sky full of clouds | all the way to horizon

    high on the slope of sparse grass; a plain | white cinder block pool house; chain link fence keeps out unwanted guests | a soda pop machine, dull red, oxidized by the sun, marked with familiar white letters; Coca-Cola | same green bottles; same dark liquid | quickly forgotten sadness and drink in the sun with Joaquin and Arabella | wait for the parents; their interview with hospital staff

    return home trip stop at festival | drive through Bordeaux; catch the closing act | fireworks in the sky | a face illuminated in sparklers; flashed high in the air | “the Father of their country”—(Joaquin explains to the baffled boy) | sees George Washington on an electric dollar bill floating; in the French carnival sky

    ::Rosin died at the age of seven | in the care of aunt Celeste | the Bronx; cold winter of 1957 | the family on transfer to the base at Newport News | Paco remembers; the mother spoke to her sister in New York | hung up, held his hand as they walked from the phone booth | across unpaved red-dirt Virginia; a country store parking lot | “Rosin murio” she moaned | inside the car she started to cry | they all cried

  • On Enlightenment


    On Enlightenment

    AS·CET·IC [əˈsedik/] adjective: characterized by or suggesting the practice of severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons. “an ascetic life of prayer, fasting, and manual labor” 
    noun: a person who practices severe self-discipline and abstention.

    Gautama did not become Buddha by reading Sutras or chanting. He starved himself, afflicted himself with many pains as an ascetic. Emaciated, fed and nursed back to life by a woman who found him dying; renewed and refreshed, he meditated under a tree until he achieved an enlightened state.

    But, what is Enlightenment? Modern science might break it down to its base function of a dopamine and endorphin induced euphoria attained through the rigorous discipline of the mind and body. Of course Gautama became supercharged after what he had gone through—elevated even—to an altered state never experienced or historically documented.

    By Akuppa John Wigham from Newcastle upon Tyne, England - Emaciated Siddhartha, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43995470What he taught afterward was a different path than the one he took to become the Buddha. Immediately following his new-found understanding of the human condition, he began teaching the Middle Way. Later he developed the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path as the way leading to Enlightenment, not the abstinence to the point of near-death, followed by a physical revitalization, that led him to it.

    In his historical fiction, Siddhartha, Herman Hesse posed a question that relates to this very controversy. The Brahman-turned-seeker explained to the Buddha why he could not become a follower. Siddhartha spoke to Gautama in a reverent way, entreating him:

    I have not doubted for a single moment that you are Buddha. You have found salvation from death. It has come to you in the course of your own search, on your own path, through thoughts, through meditation, through realizations, through enlightenment. It has not come to you by means of teachings! And—thus is my thought, oh exalted one: The teachings of the enlightened Buddha contain much. But there is one thing which these so venerable teachings do not contain: they do not contain the mystery of what the exalted one has experienced for himself, he alone among hundreds of thousands. [excerpted; italics added]

    Siddhartha’s query might have included not only, ‘what did you experience upon becoming Enlightened,’ but, ‘what steps did you take to attain it; and why do you teach a different Path to your disciples?’ In other words: “It has not come to you by means of teachings!” Hesse may have wondered why the Sutras we read today are a necessary gateway to Enlightenment, when they were a byproduct of Gautama’s release from life’s suffering, not the means he used to realize that freedom.

    Despite this contention, the Buddha taught one element to the Path that is key. According to Ch’an Buddhism[1], every living person is capable of achieving spontaneous enlightenment, but they must let it become manifest.

    In reality, we all have the same Buddha nature, and we can manifest this Buddha nature right now. Bodhidharma says that: “The Buddha-nature is obscured by a layer of dust which prevents the real from manifesting.” -Daniel Scharpenburg

    What takes years for the novitiate to reach at a Buddhist shrine, may just as well be found by the person who, intent on gaining inner peace, encounters a variety of spiritual experience throughout their life. They won’t find it walking down the street, hit by a bolt of light. But, the search for it may actually be the very thing they seek—the search becoming the thing sought. It certainly is not something you buy from the Zen master at the local temple, or from a monk in an isolated mountain monastery. If someone demands alms, or asks you to devote time with the promise to guide you on the road to Nibbana, they may just as well sell you a paper bag full of tap water. Because Enlightenment is a thing you should experience on your own, just like the Buddha.

    [1]The Principles of Ch’an Buddhism -Daniel Scharpenburg

  • A Rooster Trilogy – Morning’s Chanticleer

    Morning’s Chanticleer

    in a narcoleptic moment of reflection ~ a dirge


    as the sun pushes the grey mists of morning across the sands; currents rush into the houses | windows accept an invasion; brisk | thickets and blankets of pillows and light; dream catchers | apparitions bleed into twilight; a shadow lingers past the night

    to touch the grey; I reach | to clasp the mist; I feel | to hear the whisper; I strain | energized by sadness; tears of waking disappear the night | a figure blocked by sunlight; a voice from the stairs, a face in the clouds | wisps of morning obscure the marsh; there! in the sunlight—you vanish

    please don’t shake me from these slumbers; delve in shallow breath | let me rest in my wanting; sleep | for you have beat me long enough; let go | I never asked for this; the tortured memories | my life waits for endless roads

    ::the ocean is a wall that blocks the current; the sun explodes the night; long but the days are shorter | a life deferred is a life lost

    was I your servant or your muse? deadlocked | a flight to the Seahorse Nebula on Orion’s back; a walk on deserts with Don Juan—peyote visions | mescal; delirium tremens | pink elephants; ahor | a flashback to those good ol’ times! taste the cottonmouth; spittle washed down with Orange Crush

    ::into the sun; Icarus mourned but not forgotten; burnt—all future flights canceled until further notice, damn! I missed that plane; the Jefferson | but gained a button for my panic

    aged men on limestone walls; frescoes | they look with wonder; admonish the lame | war was never meant memorial; eyes ravaged by sight | shadows hide the pain; veneers | tears hide the anguish; cheers! | we drank to the living and smote the dead! of this pain there is no end | repeat: of this pain there is no end | only the vapor of fading lamplight

    prisoners grapple with bars; clutching | “Any day now…” they cling to the words of a vagabond; a child’s cry | a thief robs the house but leaves the night-light; on | a couch stolen; a sleep disturbed | empty pockets haunt the evening; derelict drifters and wanton wolves | wharf rats scuttle the harbor; hungry

    ::Mt. Shasta is a cold and lonely bitch in winter; trains spot run | it soars above the tree line; frozen—sun mottled | wake to the sound of a rooster’s crow; ka-doodle-doo! | or was it you that I heard? hallucinations sneak past the gates

    ::a wise man once shared his dreams; said

    I can’t even think
    to remember,
    tho’ I know it
    was something
    quite clear.

    did I hear your voice
    on the mountain that day,
    or morning’s chanticleer?

    I know how easy
    dreams are broken
    when out of thin air
    they appear.

    Originally published on: Dec 9, 2017

  • A Rooster Trilogy – Doc Martens Sambas and Cigarettes



    Doc Martens Sambas and Cigarettes


    eyes—stare down corridors; blank at walls | linoleum tile and sterile góndolas; black wheels, rubber and steel | attendants in white—concise therapists; probe density | evolve solutions, misconceptions; life is a cherry, hard pits and sour

    you roll the dice, draw lonely highways; search night’s crooked roads | creep with silent tires on gravel; lakeside—moon bright overhead | stars fall; winter follows | life is a carnival; bright lights and sorrow | magazine covers and bubble gum wrappers; idol talk and a 50 cent rapper | children play dress up; line up at school | lightning and thunder; clap  ::an omen; just before you collapse | leaves you shaken—eating disordered; flaking skin like a moth in the flame | the sacred cows and the sacred vows spoken | dreams goals and values; broken | swear words promises, spit in rage—bridges burned; freedoms chosen

    ::tho’ life doesn’t run like the wind; it takes a miracle to win | delusion and grand devices don’t matter; you give up on one and wait for the latter | stand at the threshold; desperate and worn | stare at disaster in a garden of thorns | linen bed sheets; newspapers torn | from bums in the alley you swore to protect | social workers and bachelorettes—community college, nursing degrees; tuition paid by the blood of your sweat | “Doc” Martens, Sambas and cigarettes

    is it real or is it fake? the dealer on the corner won’t negotiate | cars drive by and curbs draw lines | street cars trolley to the end of the line | your room with a view, your isolate—fortress of solitude; heaven’s gate

    ::that crown of thorns becomes you; emptiness surrounds you | the sound and the fury of midnight’s crash; it’s only the garbage men picking up trash | the rooster crows and daylight reckons; the morning sun dries the clothes you slept in | dreams like plastic melt in the sun; you’ve climbed the ladder to the top of the rung | your rat race; run

    the seasons come and go with the years; time drifts by like boats from the pier | paper trails fall from the sky; conspiracy theories drop like dimes | and all that noise about freedom’s chimes; rings hollow, like a bootlegged rhyme | the seasons come; the seasons go | the whistle and hum of the tightening rope  ::don’t it all just go to show?

    Originally published on: Dec 23, 2017

  • A Rooster Trilogy – Flowers of Dawn


    Flowers of Dawn


    the sun rises; blurred and wrinkled | sky the color of pink; blood | the whirring spin of a circular saw; grinds its path on plank | Bang! Bang! nuclear splashdown; alcohol pools wave headaches on | music fills the air; the sound of harps | an angelic chorale sings heavenly music—Ave, Maria! | choking throat and dumb rattle of death; a harsh uptake; wake-up!

    ::a big yellow moon rises over the rooftops; striking | awe in silence; blue sky dark and twinkling stars | meld into street light; alleyways cluttered with wine bottles; clink | a cat howls in summer heat; rushing water washes away the smeared light | bleary-eyed and broken, I stumble among dust bins and the sediments of the living; crowned | with a golden halo of spirits; God, and Whisky—the One, and the Same | dusty showers of moonbeams glitter | a fedora of the night; a cap of dawn—a screw

    Crow! Crow! a rooster crows | in this city he’s been strangled; by the roar of the automobile; the rush of the hour | traffic and a cop in uniform; drags cars through the crossroads; my mind | the Altiplano; the drifter’s horse and the gunslinger | Clint Eastwood on L-dopa brought to an awakened stutter; angst | plays cat’s-cradle; twisted fingers; angry gut | a dog’s hair to bite you; a pint of Schnapps; a fifth of Port | cold rinse and spin dry

    a flower | rotted; ready to die
    waiting on Euphoria; the downhill slide | the Eternal groan—
    and that dark slow suicide   ::but it’s OK
    I’m doing alright

    Originally published on: Dec 26, 2017

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