Saturday, October 29, 2011

Poems Batch 4

Here are a few new poems and some old ones gathered from other posts.

Gazing at the child
That inhabits
Your sleeping face


Through the window, winter
A falling snowflake
Shakes the house


The Waterfall

Chaos and bedlam
No droplet misplaced
Every splash harmony
Even the moment
Of thunderous impact
Silent water
Gives silent birth
To silent spray
The waterfall
Is the water
Is the rocks
Is the trees
The waterfall
Writes this
Reads this
Is this
Is just
A waterfall


Take heart!
Every moment
A second chance


My cowardice is in vain
There is nowhere
To hide


Paddling down the rapids
No time to reflect
On skilful strokes


In a dreamless sleep
The Rocky Mountains
Stride across the prairies


Countless cries
One voice
Can’t ignore


Who is asking this question?
What wants to know?
An ancient tree blooms


Thinking about thinking about thinking
Ripples on the pond
Where the frog jumped in


When I fell
You stopped
To help me up


Morning stretch
Reach out
And touch the moon

You can find other poems at Some PoemsSome More Poems and Another Batch of Poems

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Photo courtesy of Marjon Hollander
No matter how far you have gone down the wrong road, turn back!
~ Turkish proverb

Twice in the past week, dharma friends have told me they are making changes in their lives partly because of reading this blog. The first time it happened, I was humbled; the second time was like being hit by a sandbag. Perhaps I was overreacting, but I got choked up and mildly terrified at the same time.

The idea of returning home as an aspect of practice had been percolating on the back burner for a while.  Last week just pushed it to the front.

I think of it as coming back to a path or a state from which we have strayed. Not that straying is necessarily bad - we are the sum total of our strayings, and a little wiser for each one.

Returning home can range between a minor course correction, as in mindfulness practice or zazen when we return to the the present from a daydream, and a 180 degree life-changing about face.

The variations are endless. Here are a few that occurred to me, in no particular order:
  • walking past someone in distress, then going back to help
  • saying "I'm sorry"
  • letting go of a grudge
  • forgiving a debt
  • doing or saying something kind that you have been putting off, no matter how belated it is
  • returning something you stole
  • forgiving yourself, no matter what you did
  • quitting smoking
  • allowing yourself to cry
  • deciding to eat a healthy or ethical diet
  • cuddling after a fight
  • coming out
  • deciding to watch TV, then changing your mind and going for a walk
  • picking up litter you dropped
  • going into rehab or an AA meeting
  • sitting down to meditate after deciding to go to bed
  • asking for help when you don't want to
Each time, our two old friends, the fruits of practice: wisdom and compassion, seem to play a part. Wisdom to realize we have strayed, and compassion to motivate us with the courage to make the change.

The distance we go down wrong roads varies. There is a saying in recovery circles that some people realize they are riding on a garbage truck, figure out where it's going, and jump off, while others ride it all the way to the end. I suspect that as our practices progress, the distances we tend to stray before returning will become shorter, and more and more, we will see a road leading the wrong way, and just pass it up.

I'm avoiding Zen questions like "are we not home already?" or venturing into places where words don't belong, but I do have a question:

So long as one sentient being is suffering, can we ever truly be home?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Smart People on Dumb Animals

I've already told you what I think about how we treat our mute cousins.

Here is what some really great minds had to say:

Abraham Lincoln:
I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.

Thomas Edison:
Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.

Mohandas Gandhi:
To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body.

Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy:
A human can be healthy without killing animals for food.  Therefore if he eats meat he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite.

Albert Schweitzer:
There slowly grew up in me an unshakable conviction that we have no right to inflict suffering and death on another living creature, unless there is some unavoidable necessity for it.

Leonardo da Vinci:
The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men.

Henry David Thoreau:
I have no doubt that it is part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other when they came in contact with each other.

Albert Einstein:
Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.

Ralph Waldo Emerson:
You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.

But for the sake of some little mouthful of meat, we deprive a soul of the sun and light, and of that proportion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy.

The gods created certain kinds of beings to replenish our bodies they are the trees and the plants and the seeds.

Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple:
The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than blacks were made for whites, or women for men.

Cardinal John Henry Newman:
Cruelty to animals is as if humans did not love God.

Sir Paul McCartney:
If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.

Sir Ian McKellen:
Although he's a vegetarian, I couldn't find any quotes by him on the subject. This one will have to do instead: "I'm Gandalf and Magneto - get over it!"

Franz Kafka:
Now I can look at you in peace; I don’t eat you anymore.

George Bernard Shaw:
Animals are my friends... and I don't eat my friends.

Fred Rogers:
I don't want to eat anything that has a mother.

And on the subject of kindness to animals, let's not forget to be kind to the often mistreated animal wearing our clothes!

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