Ayurveda – A Cycle of Death and Rebirth

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“At Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania a researcher watched two adult male Chimpanzees separately climb to the top of a ridge at sunset. There they noticed and greeted each other, clasped hands, sat down together and watched the sun descend.”  

Carl Safina – Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel


Ayurveda

Life Begins

in the fertile Delta
where the Krishna and Kaveri
water the jungles of India

decomposition
forms new organisms
worms
plants
bacteria

cremation releases
airborne elements; molecules
return to earth with the rain

what falls in water
becomes components of the sea
the Mother River Ganges

(Oh, to see Earth
through the eyes
of a billion life-forms, reborn)


Thanks to Abbie’s Tree House for suggesting Carl Safina’s book

Words of Wisdom – Just Do It


Alan Watts’ unique ability to understand and assess Eastern Philosophies for the Western mind is a valuable asset to those who follow a Zen lifestyle. Without his writing and those of D. T. Suzuki, from whom Watts borrowed much of his insight, it would be difficult to grasp the true significance of the practice, if we can even call it a practice. I prefer to call it Mind—Being—in the moment.

The following is an excerpt from one of his many spoken lectures; this one addressing the shortcomings of the Western practice of Zen, and Asian thought in general, broadcast from radio station KPFA in Berkeley, California on April 17, 1955.  -Pc


“The important thing is simply to begin—anywhere, wherever you are.”


In this broadcast, Mr Watts explains:

We want to enjoy ourselves, and fear that if we forget ourselves there will be no enjoyment.”

He goes on to give an example with the Western Proverb:

“A watched pot never boils.”… if you try to watch your mind concentrate, it will not concentrate. And if… you begin to watch for the arrival of some insight into reality, you have stopped concentrating.”

It is a paradox. If we try to concentrate we are not concentrating, but watching ourselves trying.

“Real concentration is… a rather curious and seemingly paradoxical state, since it is at once the maximum of consciousness and the minimum of ego-feeling… The only way to enter into this state is precipitately—without delay or hesitation, just to do it…”

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The Blurred Vision of My Eyelashless Self

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A poem I found in a lost notebook from 1998. Deep in meditation while taking  a Zen class, the influence of the Tao is soaked inside these thoughts.


the blurred vision
of my Eyelashless self

There!
a part of the park
I’ve never seen!

from the Gazebo
past the stone steps
of the walkway

a secluded row of purple Azalea
border the stone wall that rounds a meadow
to the right

a soft slope
the blurred vision
of my eyelashless self sees

the bending
and winding twists
of tree limb and trunk

branches of bright yellow
Sugar Maple in its cycle of death to rebirth
—the Fall

soft green Juniper in the foreground;
Dwarf White Pine and Japanese Laurel
roll down to a flaming Elm

and the passing cars that hide
behind an Austrian Pine
on the street below

The Wind

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Originally posted July 2014, I wrote this poem during my mid-life era while I was discovering a new-found freedom of expression in my poetry. Enjoy it for what it is—a free flow of ideas marked by whimsical foreboding and a bit of comical wordplay.


The Wind

the wind sounds like a big machine
as it whistles past this house
the dust growls loudly
as it polishes the window panes

a screen door bangs
against the carcass of this house
two sad eyes stare into the winter (framed by shutters
and candlelight)

the wind speaks the language of the mournful
(but I don’t care) inside this house the wind is silenced
by the clapping of the clapboards the barking of the trees
the shuddering of the shingles and the rasping
of the leaves (this house is empty
except for me)

she ties her hair in ribbons
and cries out to the wind, why
should you scare my innocence so;
or is it you laugh at me?
“Sing to me my child,” the wind mocks. “Sing to me
of jelly sticks (and doughnuts)
of lemon pies and lullabies”

(she pauses) the wind is hungry!  (that’s why
it howls at me!) she places her hands against
the window and sighs, what a relief!

The Stream of Consciousness

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“For a materialist such as myself, there is no such thing as ‘mind’. It ultimately reduces down to neurons firing and neurochemical transmitter substances flowing across synaptic gaps between neurons, combining in complex patterns to produce something we call mind but is actually just brain.”  Michael Shermer – The Believing Brain

“… the mind is a flow of subjective experiences, such as pain, pleasure, anger and love. These mental experiences are made of interlinked sensations, emotions and thoughts, which flash for a brief moment, and immediately disappear. Then other experiences flicker and vanish, arising for an instant and passing away. (When reflecting on it, we often try to sort the experiences into distinct categories such as sensations, emotions and thoughts, but in actuality they are all mingled together.) This frenzied collection of experiences constitutes the stream of consciousness.” Yuval Noah Harari – Homo Deus


The Stream of Consciousness

dreams as flow; impulses
generated in the brain
create order out of chaos
sense out of jumble

unrelated thoughts
throughout the day
memories passed
incoherent images
organized; make stories

this is our woken state
according to the experts—
an involuntary flow of neurons
between the synapses in our brains
affected by outside stimulus
interpreted in the mind:

what we think we are thinking
is the moment
manipulated
by the past

this “dream state”
while awake; anxiety
depression
fear
and quake

the panoply
of emotional states
can be balanced; guided
through imagery—
to the middle
of the way


 

The Inner Light



Some Buddhist schools insist you spend years practicing meditation in order to achieve spiritual enlightenment. In his article on the school of Ch’an Daniel Scharpenburg makes the argument that we are already Enlightened. In his words: “The only thing that keeps us from our Awakening is the fact that our minds are obscured by delusion.”

This raises a question. Is everyone born with an inner beacon that guides their path through life?

Many modern religions insist that their patented belief system is the only way to Salvation. They compel you to follow a strict discipline in order to succeed at their calling. They truly understand this Inner Light—and they hijack it. Taking over your moral compass, they replace it with their own.

Some traps are lined in velvet and may seem comfortable. But they are traps nonetheless. They take over your life, leaving you with a beacon that is set to someone else’s course. If your compass has been turned this way you are left spiritually bankrupt and unhappy.

Take each step carefully, as you follow your Inner Light.

Enlightenment

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When he walked the Earth, what was it the Buddha understood that enabled him to stand above the stature of Man and become a Spiritual being?

Simply put, spirituality is what we call the state of inner understanding. A spiritual man doesn’t have to prove his spiritual stature, it speaks for him. He has attained a state of calmness that comes natural, through understanding, or Enlightenment. As natural as we may find this state, it requires cultivation. For, just as we must attend to a flower after it has sprouted, we nurture Understanding, maintaining that state of transcendent consciousness, allowing a raised sense of being to bloom after it has taken root.

So, when does a man attain enlightenment? What was it the Buddha achieved that made him a spiritual guide to one-fourth of the human race?

In Siddhartha, Herman Hesse posed the same question when the Brahman-turned-seeker explained to the Buddha why he could not become a follower. Siddhartha spoke to the Enlightened One, stating in a most reverent and entreating way, the following:

“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. . . You will not be able to convey and say to anybody. . . in words and through teachings what has happened to you in the hour of enlightenment! 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.” [italics added]

So, when does a man attain enlightenment? As the Buddha taught, only the one who has attained it knows.

2010

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