Friday, February 24, 2006

Sugar, NMN, January 28, 1947-February 13, 2006

When I wake in the early morning light
Body leaden, opposed to getting up
I want to call you, and hear "you ain't right,"
"honey, sugar," to fill the empty cup
Then I pull the covers tightly around
My eyes, into the dark night of my soul
And weep again on that which wasn't found
Until you had left and I could see whole
Then grieve my fear which kept me from being
Present, to that which is and will be, now.
The stories from a past, nebulous rings
Which take over and to which I do bow.

But if in time I recall, what a friend
I had in you, I know there is no end.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Eight vicissitudes

Pleasure and pain,
gain and loss,
praise and blame,
fame and disrepute.

We think we should have only pleasure, gain, praise and fame in our lives. Our advertising, our culture promotes this unrealistic thinking. Buddha's teachings remind us that in the full experience of living, pain, loss, unpleasant experiences are also valid. Day follows night, the tides come in and then go out, we sleep, we wake. Breathing in. Breathing out. How incomprehensible to only breathe in, to only have day, to only have high tide, to only wake, to only have white, no black, to only be full, never empty, to laugh, never cry. Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in. Breathing out, I am calm.


Buddha's hindrances to concentration or meditation:

sloth or sleepiness

Counteract desire
by recognizing it without judgement and note the feelings feeding the desire.
Counteract aversion,
by recognizing it without judgement, note feelings feeding the aversion.
Antidote to sleepiness
is to acknowledge "Just this one breath, this one sound, this one step."
Counteract restlessness
with feeling the chaos of it, walking and feeling it.
Antidote to doubt
is sustaining attention, being able to connect with what is going on.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


The man
Grew up
With little to control
In his life

He was beat

He was young
When he lost the ability
To see others.

The little boy was wanting to get it right.
Not knowing
What it was, he did wrong, how could he get it right?
He didn't know
There wasn't ever going to be a Right.
He was young

When he lost his ability to see others.

He rages now,
he is in control.
He is loud,
he is visible.

He was young when he lost his ability
To see others.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Heading west down Route 6 to my dad's eye appointment, a small truck passed us heading east with this huge port-a-potty, neon green, strapped to the bed on the back, close to the cab.

Maybe it was the neon color or the absurdity of something so big, representing crap, strapped close to a little cab, travelling down the road at 50 mph, whatever it was, it made me think neurosis is like that.

All that resentment, guilt and anxiety takes up lots of space, somehow gets trapped in our heads. The past becomes more important than the present. The future is more important than the present. The mind is in charge. Breathing in, I am here, Breathing out, I am home, in this moment. Appreciating this moment, the compost of stuff I carry in my mind ---makes flowers.

Chocolate equanimity

Eating chocolate means I will have bad stomach, burning, gas, distention, about 24 hours later.
This has been going on about 6 months now. When I first heard about equanimity in a group discussion, I heard it described as the midpoint between desire and aversion. After the discussion on equanimity, I get to work the next day, the very next day, and about 10 feet from my office door someone has installed a peanut m & m's candy machine. So for 25 cents I can satisfy my desire and 24 hours later face aversion.

Oh, the places chocolate shows up. Last week I went to a workshop on Communication, the presenter is piling candy, like Halloween-time without the bags, on the table we sit at. For the whole morning, I resist the milky ways and kit kats and hershey bars. In the afternoon I eat two pieces. This is a chocolate appetizer. By the time I get home, I'm eating the chocolate cake in the freezer.

I volunteer at a retreat and eat grains and whole fresh foods. At the end of the occasion someone wants to celebrate and is busy in the kitchen making chocolate sauce for ice cream. I eat just a taste. When I get to work, I realize nothing happened with that little taste, so I eat one of the Whitham chocolates from the box I've been resisting for a month, then another, and that's so good, another. Discipline and equanimity disappear. Impulsiveness takes over. As impulsiveness takes over chocolate, impulsiveness spreads into the grocery store, buying anything I want on a credit card, it spreads to relationships, feeling impatient with people, expectations get bigger.

The Hungry Ghost with the tiny mouth, long skinny neck and gargantuan stomach manifests when chocolate shows up. Good tummy is saying enough, enough, we can't do this anymore. See the chocolate, feel the impulsiveness creep in the taste buds, feel how impulsiveness likes to be in charge, take over. Big bully. Give the bully space, don't fight him, just watch him, let him be and rest in the river.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Horns, are you sure?

Driving east up hill, I get in the far left lane to make a left turn, waiting for west bound traffic to pass. Two vehicles on my right blow their horns as they pass me. I think they are blowing their horns at me. Maybe my directional lights aren't working. But it's the front one that doesn't work. I see nothing wrong with what I did. I think they are angry at me, but I don't know what I did.

I drive my sister-in-law's mother back to her nursing home. There are hardly any cars parked in the lot. I stop the car by the main door to figure out which door to use. There is space to pass me. The Cadillac behind me is blowing his horn. Here I am in an empty parking lot at a nursing home and someone is blowing his horn. I think he is blowing his horn cause there is something wrong with him and he is angry at me for being in his way. I turn quickly into the handicapped space closest to me, just to get out of the way. The Cadillac pulls in right next to me. Just one guy in the driver's seat. He doesn't get out.I get her walker out and we walk to the first door we see. He yells out his car window that I am at the wrong door in an angry voice. We figured that out also before he yelled, when the door wouldn't open. I feel attacked by these people and these situations and my body suffers it.

Am I sure what was going on with these people? No, maybe the two vehicles going up the hill and passing me were friends saying hi to each other. Maybe they are angry at me for blocking the "fast" passing lane. Maybe the guy in the Cadillac's mom just died and he hates to go in. Maybe he was experiencing physical pain. Maybe the Cadillac guy thinks this too is a fast lane he is in and I am keeping him from hurrying. Even though he never got out of the car the whole time it took us to walk to the farther door. I don't know what is going on with these people when they blow their horns. A horn is a horn is a horn. A bell of mindfulness. Breathing in, I relax. Breathing out, I am calm.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

We get hurt and we hurt others, we are born and find suffering, we continue on and get older. We get older, our bodies change in ways that are hard to accept. We wrinkle, we sag, the glow in our skin turns to sallowness, transluscence, the hair turns dry, gray. We give, we receive. We are not perfect, don't always know what we are doing or why. The earth has so many problems, conflicts, wars, environmental disasters. Yet we go out on a hike, along a river for six miles and feel connected to the earth, a belonging. We see the river change and flow. We breathe the sweet air of spring while it is late winter. We and friends go through so much, scarred. We get together, breathe together and find a beauty beyond the hurts and pains and scars. We reopen the scars. Hurt again. Together, under the clouds that flow in the wind, over the flowing river, we walk and find beauty. We find real in the resistance we have to what is. It's all resisting love.

"I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wandering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty beats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them, under the wind-rent clouds, upstream and down. Simone Weil says simply, 'Let us love the country of here below. It is real; it offers resistance to love.' " Annie Dillard