January 14, 2013
Beginner’s Mind

"In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities.  In the expert’s mind there are few". - Shunryu Suzuki

Son,

What is fear?  Fear is ignorance, fear is speculation.  You might say ignorance causes fear.  You might say speculation causes fear.   In essence they are the same.  Why are they the same?  Because regardless of the name you use they produce the same results.  Ignorance says “I don’t know and what I don’t know scares me”, thus fear.  Speculation says “Because I do not know I must speculate in order to know but the frenzy and futility of this speculating disrupts my mind and scares me”, thus fear.  Also speculation births nefarious pride because it is our tendency to define our speculations as truth and then act upon them.  Is not all the various and sundry evil humankind perpetrates on itself and the world birthed from such a process?   Once you think that you know then pride and attachment are born, then mental formations, then dangerous volitional acts which ultimately create vast schisms that tear us apart into conflicting dualisms.  Thus inner strife is born and from unsettled inner strife comes the projection of our own fears onto others who in turn become the scapegoats for our hatred.  Not knowing scares you when you’ve been taught or believe that it is a great evil not to know and that your life should be spent frantically consuming facts and figures. 

Instead the answer is “I do not know and that’s ok because not knowing is beginner’s mind, the true source of all meaningful knowledge.  It is only a clean slate that can have the long equation written upon it.  And afterwards it is erased, then there is Mu and you can begin again.  Maybe the next time it is the drawing of a flower, or a poem perhaps, but it is only the clean slate that can accommodate either and indeed all.  This is Oneness.”

It is the division of knowing and not knowing in one’s mind that causes turmoil.  Pitted against each other they are a powerful and negative dualism.  They create an endless cycle of attachment and accumulation that eventually turns into a great burden and still you will never be satisfied.  The lust for knowledge is tantamount to the lust for riches and they are the same in that neither ever bring peace.  Just be open, empty, and ready to receive. 

Christ said you must be like a little child.  Lao Tzu said he was like an idiot his mind was so empty and he spoke of the bellows, empty inside but capable of endless production.

Be the bellows son.

Love,

Dad

October 12, 2012
Love By Death

Son,

I had a vision:

Holding her hand the skin was so tangible, the feeling of love traveling the nerve ends to the rest of me.  What could be more real I thought?  And we walked laughing in the autumn leaves falling where she wasted away to the bones and then the ash and there was the wind that carried her away.  The reaper’s back was to me but he turned and under the hood was a young benevolent face.  Then I had you by the hands twirling and there was your healing laughter.  Oh how my heart leaped with joy as we stayed in each other’s company.  So lively hearted and free.  Then you too wasted away.  I realized that you and the woman were precious like roses. I saw that I would only truly know your  beauty and deeply cherish your presence if I completely embraced the fact of your impermanence.  Only from such acceptance could I unconditionally love you free of a constant smothering grasp, free of even the thought of control.  Upon this realization I too wasted away.  And there was nothing. And there was silence, void and empty.

Now this:

Accepting your death is something you would do well to get in the practice of even now so young.  Thinking contentedly and soberly upon your unknown hour will keep you alert, supple, tender, kind, loving and true.  Free from delusion, hatred, and fear.  Think on it often and make it your regular dose of reality.  Especially do this when you feel anger toward someone you love.  Before you open your mouth to let the cruel words spill stop, breathe, and think, “If I die right now are these the words I want to leave final hanging there like smog in the air slowly to settle so darkly upon this person’s soul”?  Then look deeply into your loved one and see that they too shall pass away, they too have fears, worries, anxieties.  See their hurts pulsing as real as your own.  Seeing the hurts is where you have an opportunity to heal instead of wound.  When you think their trespass against you is of such dire importance imagine both of you two hundred years from now having long ago fed the earth.  Ponder this and make magnanimity your immediate pursuit.  Remembering that they are human just like you cease objectifying them through your projected anger. 

And if the situation happens to be that they continually hurt, neglect, or abuse you refusing to change then gently walk away wishing them the best and leaving nothing but silent thunder in your wake.  Wash your hands free of any malice or spite.  Shake the dust from your feet and let go.  And there in the quiet perhaps they will finally understand.  Perhaps the seeds you have planted through your forgiveness will sprout something magnificent in them offering a wiser more compassionate life to the world. 

If you hurt, neglect or abuse someone then waste no time in beseeching their forgiveness.  The greatest gift you can give them at that point is your lucid acknowledgement of your wrong doing so they don’t suffer in their mind thinking it’s just them or from knowing that you are densely (maybe callously) turning a blind eye to their heart.  Just as importantly remember to forgive yourself else you’ll wander life with poison in your heart making you ill fit to love.  If they leave you do not pine over the wounds inflicted however learn the lesson from the loss it causes you and the suffering it causes them so that you can give the gift of a more pure love to another .  And there in the knowledge of this pure love you will redeem the past by offering the present your changed self. 

And know this son, 

I will love you forever and ever, and always, more than the stars shine, and to infinity and beyond.

And if our time is cut short, I’ll be waiting for you on the other side. 

All my heart,

Dad

P.S. 

    5  For hate is not conquered by hate: hate is conquered by love.  This is an eternal law.

    6  Many do not know that we are here in this world to live in harmony. Those who know this do not fight against each other.

  49  As the bee takes the essence of a flower and flies away without destroying its beauty and perfume so let the sage wander in this life.

  50 Think not of the faults of others, of what they have done or not done.  Think rather of your own sins, of the things you have done or not done.

147  Consider this body! A painted puppet with jointed limbs, sometimes suffering and covered with ulcers, full of imaginings, never permanent, for ever changing.

The Dhammapada

October 1, 2012
Life and Death

You sit atop an iceberg not comprehending its depth.  You are holding a book.  The book is about the iceberg.  You read and read and read just sitting there.  The information in the book is inspiring to be sure but something is lacking.  After devouring its contents you become frustrated and toss it aside.  You know that if you keep sitting you will uneventfully freeze to death.  Upon this thought you, without hesitation, dive into the water beginning a long decent to the bottom of the ice berg, touching the sides with your own hands, seeing it with your own eyes.  When you reach the bottom you swim under it to the other side and back a ways seeing the thing all at once instead of in fragmented compartmentalization.  You appreciate its beauty but do not grasp at its slippery slopes.  You awe at its magnitude but do not try to analyze it.  And then you just keep going. You swim deeper and deeper. It gets darker and darker.  So quiet and absent of struggle.   Formations begin in your mind and you start becoming attached to the feeling of bliss washing over you.     

Then, in an instant, you are eaten by a whale.   

And there in its belly being digested you fully understand the law of not knowing and you become enlightened.

September 29, 2012
Zazen

Observe your restless mind

See it writhing

See it turning

Observe its entanglements

See its density

See its fibers

Laugh silently to yourself as you notice

that its really just a cramped up ball of yarn

Look there

See the protruding string

Pull it as hard as you can

Observe your body

Ever striving

Ever craving

Ever yearning

Consider the way of all flesh

You will not escape it

Breathe in

Breathe out

Embrace your body warmly

Embrace your mind warmly

Realize that they are one

Train them well and be their kind master

September 22, 2012
Consider

Consider the unknown hour of your death

Consider the unknown hour of your life

Consider the hours

The unknown hours

You cannot know them

No need to worry for the morrow

You are here now

There is nowhere else to go

Nothing else to do

No one else to be

Nothing else to say

You are Equanimity 

Here

Now

Here

Now

Here

Now here

Nowhere

Here the grass is never greener on any other side

In fact there are no sides at all

In a forest of differentiations there is a clearing called Contentment

Find it and stay there the rest of your days

In this way you will cease your suffering and in turn the suffering of others

You will drink of true Joy

Oh how sweet the taste!

February 19, 2012
You Are the Truth

“I - I know - I’m not the - best communicator, but… whatever happens to you, be honest, tell the truth, even if they do look at you funny. They will. But what you gotta understand, son, is that almost all of those people are full of shit.   They’re all part of this great big conspiracy: bullshit. And they’re scared of people like you, because those bullshitters know that you’re smarter than all of them. You know what you say to people like that? Hmm? ‘Fuck you.’ “ - Edward Darko

“Quid est veritas?” - Pontius Pilate

I Am” – Jesus Christ

There is one person who consistently knows what is best for you:  Yourself.  Countless demagogues, hand-wringers, “teachers”, parents, fear mongers, war mongers, institutions, do-gooders, busy bodies, and organized religions will make no end of trying to train you not to trust yourself.   The hardest job you have before you son is to, at all costs, refuse their onslaughts and hold on to your center.  I speak not of nervously attempting to amass such comprehensive intellectual knowledge that you will always know the right fact for the right situation.  What I speak of is the inner knowing that recognizes no language other than the language of your heart. The language spoken not with words but with peculiar and poignant “prompts” as it were.  Prompts that give you a sober sense of what you are supposed to do. The voice is always there, even amidst the greatest of turmoil and distractions. We are all hardwired with it.  The trick is to keep your ear tuned to hear it.   Given the attendant ills and collectivist mores of our present society acquiring adeptness at knowing this inner voice will be a practice in what could now be properly called an esoteric art.  Perhaps an example would be in order:

There was a time when you were six and insisted, no matter how much I argued or got irritated, that I was going the wrong way to a certain destination.   We parked and got out of the car.  I started walking one way, you started walking another.  “Dad, it’s this way”, you said pointing.  “I don’t think so buddy, we’re going this way”, I replied as I kept walking.  But you didn’t budge.  You stood there, even as I beckoned and told you sternly to come on.  You got that slightly nervous half-furrowed brow look you always give when you want to challenge me on something.  You simply refused and politely, but firmly, from your mouth again, “Dad, I’m telling you, it’s this way”.  I knew it was hard for you, and scary, standing up to me like that, and I recall the hint of fear in your eyes.  Well, it turned out you were right and I had to apologize.  Some may see nothing too extraordinary in that event but I read between the lines that day. It was a prime example of you following your inner voice and having the courage to stand for it.  You did not abdicate your convictions simply because I was an “authority” figure. You knew what was right, and you stood your ground. Therein is the absolute crux of the issue. This may seem a tame example but it was a great inner victory the likes of which I pray you will consistently strive to achieve.  This will strengthen you for the much harder situations down the road where you will be dealing with other “authority” figures that don’t care a hill of beans for you. 

If you consistently repress your inner voice and allow other people’s opinions, whims, and commands to replace it you will be a double minded man and suffer great inner turmoil.  In essence you will be spiritually castrated, sapped of empowerment and vitality.  You will become an unwitting tool for others to use and abuse at will.  Like a soldier who marches into the bloody battles of unnecessary wars to take innocent lives all because he is “following orders”.  He lost his conscience and autonomy to an ill conceived notion of the “greater good” as defined by his “superiors”.  He stopped thinking for himself and listening to his heart.  Look closely inside such a man and you will see a gruesome and haunting spectre­ – a dark shadow that threatens to eclipse each one of our souls at the slightest lack of vigilance. 

Pray for such a man and hope that you can persuade him to a better life of peace.

Never emulate him. 

True strength comes from within and is more akin to a kind shepherd than a hardened warrior.  It revels not in haste, violence, coercion, or brutality. 

The soft overcomes the hard.  The flexible survives while the stiff is broken.  Water smooths the rock.  Love conquers hate, starting first and foremost with the love of yourself.

Listen to your voice. When they ask you “Whose the boss?”, you point your finger to your chest and answer “I Am”.  If they try to tell you different you tell ‘em their opinion on that particular issue can be goddamned.

Love,

Dad

January 9, 2012
Bringing Forth the Tree

The times change and you will change too.  The cycles will seem the same, with a chaotic degree of consistency, but sameness is illusory because life is change.  Embrace this truth early on as you bathe in the moonlight glow preparing for slumber.  If the sun should rise on who you were yesterday then bound in shackles is the new man trying to rise from your bed.  He’s caged in who you were.   And he will stay there with as many others.  They will weigh you down until you cut them free.  If you fail to cut them free they will crush you under the weight of an unbearable burden.  You must let the old die. It’s death and then the tree.   That’s the order of things.  No real way around it I suppose else you’re just a semblance of a man, soul long gone, wired to life hoping the plug doesn’t get pulled.  Don’t keep trying to make the new you like the old you just because you can’t let go.  This will bring you no end of suffering.   Show me an acorn that in the fullness of time is still an acorn and I will show you unfulfilled purposes.  Show me a man who in the fullness of time lives in the unforgiveness of the past and I will show you a fruitless life.  I have been that man and son it’s miserable.  If you find yourself like that reach in your toolbox for your two most important tools, love and forgiveness respectively.  I am trying so hard to leave them there for you.  Love yourself and loving others will come, in that order only, don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise.  Forgive yourself and yours will be a life that is in tune.  Forgive others and yours will be a life that rises as a missing note to complete a vast harmony.

As time passes you will bear the scars of yesterdays and yesteryears, on your face, on your hands, and the deepest ones, well, they are there where you can’t see.  They are the most dangerous.  Keep vigilant watch on them being faithful to never forget they are there, not for the purpose of grudges, but because they need sunlight to heal.  Short of this you will have crippling infections like storms that plague your soul.  They will whip you about as a small boat on the sea and you will not know from whence the wind comes.  A scar is a scar because it healed and while the remembrance stays the wound is gone.   Don’t open them, you know the wounds, don’t open them again. Look upon the scars and remember as though it were the distant past from the first of a thousand lives that you’ve lived with this one being the thousandth. Look on them like a history book. Read, remember, cry, learn, laugh, and then let go. If someone else­­­ opens them then I’m sorry.   Come to me for a warm embrace and I’ll cry with you and we’ll bring recovery swift as it can come.  But a scar is a scar because you were living and trying and doing the best you could.  And plenty of times because you were being stupid.  Learn from those times or they will be complete losses of breath from a very limited supply.

But hell, better scars than none at all.  That’s what I say whether or not you care to hear it. Better that than a stagnated artery and death by inaction.  Death by lethargy, death by fear, death by becoming what you don’t want to be.   Who you really are is in you, way inside.  The true you, the whole you, the you that you love and want to be, the person you catch glimpses of in your dreams.  You’ve got to lead him to the front door. 

­Make damn sure it isn’t locked.

Love,

Dad

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