A mind enamored
of its own disguise
cannot see all the
the ones stationed everywhere it looks.
The Ones everywhere it can’t quite see.
(Stop here for a moment and
take a look around.)
(Do you see?)
A mind convinced
of its own fabrications
that experience itself
is an omni-sided doorway–
a passage to every form of grace.
A passage to every glory, seated in circles.
(Don’t worry where, just imagine…
that you walk out into it…)
A mind accustomed
to writing its own script
the depth of compassion
that has resulted
in the whole universe
of imminent Buddhas
agreeing to dress up
as all the parts in its
like a clown show
of gladiators, lottery winners,
lovers and companions,
dealmakers in cheap suits,
creeping thieves with dark eye-liner,
and close friends that died too soon–
just to be present alongside it
in every moment,
to be near,
close enough to touch,
when it stumbles into
the hatching darkness
born of the schemes
it has so carefully, so proudly,
and so tragically plotted.
A frightened mind begging
to just catch a break
is unable to grasp
the transcendent bellwethers
peeking through its own nature,
unable to recognize the enormity of a mercy
that will not permit even one
scrap of falsehood to pass unchallenged,
incapable of recognizing that the task before it
is not merely to endure,
or find a passing comfort,
or to settle for just one little
patch of sand it can call its own,
but to open its petals wide to the sky
and embrace all that rains down
and become a blessing
to all beings
You may have realized by now,
sitting for this brief moment here with me,
as you glimpsed the face-painted
vaulting through your sky,
as you felt the invisible carousel doors
opening in every direction
from the place where this now finds you,
that such a strange mind
as I have described
and never could have
This is what
our lives have been
trying to tell us
And now we see it:
compassion is a net
stretched alongside us
from every direction,
and we are such
little jumping beans
caught in its web.
we are quite the jumping beans, aren’t we. :D. nice.
awww, Haroid… It’s not about all that stuff. 😉
It’s just a little light-hearted fun Meredith; please don’t take it as some vicarious anti-theistic rant. After all, for most of my adult life I trained as a Buddhist and am certainly not ever going to deride the philosophy; far from it. And I apologise for having jumped in on your comment; I hadn’t intended to. Take care Meredith, Hariod. ❤
Yes, Meredith! We are quite the haul! 🙂
I can’t even imagine how to do what you told me not to do so we are both in great luck. What a great day for saying, “awww… well i’m sure glad you told me.” I usually misunderstand at least two or things when I visit, here, so it’s all good. 🙂
“Vicarious anti-theistic rant” As we both know, often, when people post videos as comments, they’re letting someone else do their bidding, to speak on their own behalf. And obviously Chris Hitchens is/was known for his atheism – a term he disowned in favour of “anti-theism”. So, it’s quite understandable that you might have thought I was barking up the wrong tree Meredith; though in fact, and as I said, it was just a little light-hearted fun, offered in place of any intelligent comment on my part such as in this instance, as on so many occasions before, eluded me.
Yours, barking, though not up any tree.
I had no idea who Chris Hitchens was, and I cracked up at the joke about keeping the change. I actually thought he was a Buddhist lecturer when I first saw this, although the closing remarks about spirituality left me ever so slightly questioning what he was really trying to say. I didn’t really read anything into it, though. I find you often need to understand a person’s whole viewpoint to understand what they mean by words and phrases in short clips, and even then risking interpretation is dangerous. Then I found clip after clip of him on-line expressing himself in various public forums, and I have to say that it put me on my heels. It saddens me when one of us reaches the point in our life and in our thinking wherein it becomes as easy as having a sandwich to write-off our fellow humans, to not only criticize a perspective but to lampoon the holder of the perspective, and to do so in a manner that denigrates, chastises and ridicules. It evokes a response. A disappointment. A sadness. This passes. Later, a desire that all beings find peace. The strengthened realization of how important this is. A desire to walk among the trees briefly, in a soft light. A knowing that somehow the ends don’t justify the means. A rising warmth within. A gratitude for all that is, and the desire to extend that gratitude like a protective embrace around all things. That type of response.
Everything leads to the heart of the matter. Even jokes…!
“Hitch” is/was regarded as something of a national treasure on the intellectual left here in England Michael. He died three years ago, in your country, where he was resident and had been granted citizenry. Ferociously intellectual, he was perhaps Britain’s finest polemicist of the 20th. century, something akin to your Gore Vidal – though Hitch once called G.V. “a crackpot” for his belief in 9/11 conspiracy theories. It’s well worth watching the debate he had with Tony Blair in Toronto in 2010 – whilst in the grip of his terminal cancer – to get a feel for the man; though I am not suggesting this would necessarily endear him to you Michael. He upset many people with his views, not least of all the Christian Right in the U.S. Along with Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris, he formed the vanguard of the militant atheist movement which sought to have creationism removed from being taught in U.S. schools. He also upset many in U.S. politics, for example, with his objection to so-called “water-boarding” as a means of extracting information from state enemies. He volunteered to undergo this process himself to see what it was like, and you can find video of this online. He was in many ways an odd character, immensely brave in everything he did in support of his beliefs, and yet a man who changed those beliefs quite dramatically throughout his life. This made of him something of an enigma, a man impossible to pigeon-hole as being definitively this or that, which is perhaps no bad thing, frustrating though it is to his critics and admirers alike. He certainly left his mark upon the world.
Thank you for that description. There is much to admire here I think, particularly having the courage and bravery to test one’s views and revise them on the basis of evidence and experience, and I’m grateful for your rounding out the portrait of the man for me, however succinctly. Within each of us there are so many threads of truth and quality seeking to take up residence in the world…
Thanks Michael; I can quite understand how watching a few video clips of Hitch could lead one to seemingly obvious conclusions; though as I said, he was something of an enigma, as well as being an extraordinary man. The debate with Blair was hosted here: http://www.munkdebates.com/debates/religion Though if you want to view the debate without registering you can do so on YouTube in slightly inferior quality.
I have taken some time off from work this week, so I have been able to watch the clip in its entirety through another feed on YouTube. I was definitely impressed by the quality and erudition of Hitchens’ discussion. I somehow managed earlier to click on a link that was suggesting itself to be a sort of “best of” Hitchens, and in the first minute or two it contained a moment where Hitchens’ was quoting a line saying, “Which is more likely, that all the known laws of nature were bent, or that a Jewish minx lied about the father of her child?” Having watched this debate, I daresay the “best of” Hitchens may have been put together by a fan who was cherry-picking heated or potentially antagonistic moments from his career, which is unfortunate. And as you say, undoubtedly the arguments used by Hitchens over his career may have evolved within his own being. There is, in my mind, excellence in a mind that evolves as it is exposed to new information and experience, for that is the very opposite of fanaticism.
The line quoted above viscerally pained me, however, including the somewhat callous manner in which it was retold, for what Mary represents to myself, and perhaps to many, is a selfless purity of devotion, a grace-filled feminine power, the essence of giving of one’s heart fully to a calling. I felt that something very real, something important, a power that knows naught but how to offer love, had been dismissed altogether as a childish artifact of ignorance. It may be foolish on my part to have formulated such an inner structure of belief that reflecting on Mary results in such a clarion emotional reaction. It may not hold up to the tenor of reason. Yet there it is.
And here is where the debate falls down for me– on both sides– as well as the entire premise on which it rests. Religion is not really the thing, in my opinion. Religion is a proxy, and not a necessary one in my opinion (although one that may be quite helpful to some as well) for the inner experience of the divine, the numinous, the dimensionless ground of being, if you will. And these debates have a way of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Neither Hitchens (nor Dawkins in my experience, whose book The God Delusion I have read) appear willing to put the available information together in new ways– ways that would potentially unify the whole of human experience with the narrative of the cosmos. And Blair seemed handcuffed a bit by being unwilling to say that in the end, in his heart, policies regarding the use of condoms or beliefs rooted in the violent scriptures of the Old Testament simply don’t matter to him.
Our present culture labors horribly under the strain of meaninglessness, and this void cannot be filled in my opinion by either a dogmatic materialist or a dogmatic religious perspective. These are simply empty approaches in my opinion. We cannot marginalize basic elements of the human psyche and experience, and expect to yield a peaceful, loving result. I don’t think you are suggesting, by the way, such a premise, or that you share or endorse fully any of these views with which I disagree or find short-sighted. I merely stirred my own pot by watching this…
Thank you Michael, for offering your thoughts and for so respectfully taking time to watch the debate. I am generally reluctant to make video suggestions to people in the blogosphere, other than those of a few minutes in length, as I know how pushed for time we all are. On this occasion I made an exception to the principle, as despite his admitted failings, Hitch was someone whose memory I feel somewhat protective of, not by virtue of sharing all of his opinions, but because he was a man of uncommon conviction and courage; and I felt uncomfortable that having introduced him to you here, you may have had an unfortunate impression of him.
The quote you cite regarding the Virgin Mary is not altogether untypical of his provocative and polemical approach; though it should be borne in mind that most of his talks were delivered to confirmed atheists of course, who would not be at all phased by the inflammatory wording, less still the implied logic of the question. Just as Catholics in particular would find deep offense in such wording, then those who hold Mother Teresa in high regard would be less than impressed by his writings on her work. This giving of offense cuts both ways of course, and we need not rehearse here any demonstrations of that, for they are sadly played out in the news each day for all to see.
My own stance on contemporary atheism is perhaps ambivalent; I am actually of the view that it serves mainly an effect of stoking more polarity in a world already fraught with opposition. Then again, almost all of that opposition has its genesis in religious doctrine, or the corrupted metaphysical ideologies of quasi-religious messianic leaders – all of which, in my view, represent by degrees corruptions of the essential messages brought to the world through the great prophets. There is at once often a denial in contemporary atheism of the great source of emotional solace that religion provides, and which cannot be found in purely physicalist accounts of the world. “Throwing the baby out with the bath water” is indeed an expression that springs to mind, and I agree entirely with your use of it in respect to any unthinking rejection of religion.
I fear I have inadvertently managed to steer the discussion away from the content of your work Michael; though there is at least some tangential link. Then again, what more could you expect from a declared jumping bean old bean?
All kinds of good things in here Michael. I really like these ‘face-painted somersaulting Buddhas vaulting through your sky’, insisting in their hilarity that what the mind is absolutely convinced of, ‘does not and cannot and never could have existed’. This is it exactly…
Thank you, Tiramit. Your use of the phrase ‘absolutely convinced’ is so very apropos. The mind is always convinced of its own creations, isn’t it? This is kind of our biggest challenge, I think, particularly as we confront difficulties within: realizing that what seems to be self-evident, is an array of conclusions that rest on far less solid ground than it would appear.
too many doors and too many choices, my poor mind is paralyzed, those shutting down the whole game. 🙂
Freedom is indeed quite expansive, Brad. I can hardly handle the breadth and depth of the beverage cooler at the convenience store. Nevermind the far vaster field of experience we call life. I’m guessing that’s why there’s such a thing as an eternity– so we don’t have to feel rushed into exploring it all at once…
Or maybe eternity is everything all at once.
And maybe everything keeps becoming more and more… Of everything… All at once…
I see what you mean, my friend. 🙂
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That helps Michael. I get so lost in choices that I tend to do nothing and close off from life, which is probably the worst choice. I will see if I can relax and appreciate the expansiveness! 🙂
Oh I love this. I’m sitting in an Apple store for the high speed internet catching up on emails, etc. I got to the line “Stop for a moment and look around” so I did and I saw the Buddhas all around me. It’s easier now that I have stopped resisting arising here as this “Alison thing” to see and feel the perfection of it all. Thank you for your lovely whirling twirling dancing thoughts that bring me to presence every time.
Lovely, Alison! The looking around and seeing… as an “Alison thing…” It’s perfect. We are all blessed to see what it means to be who we are through your particular form of relatedness.
I am thinking you and Don are on the move again about now? Healed up and energized I hope-intend-desire-know. I’m just catching up on the inner progress report now…
We leave on Saturday fro Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Oz, and NZ for 5 months. In Vancouver’s cold rain everyday I long for tropical heat again. Time to warm our bones 🙂
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Open my petals wide to the sky
and embrace all that rains down
and become a blessing
to all beings
Yes please. And thank you very much.
Again surfing parallels here, as we let go of mind for a little unadulterated experience. Rain down on me baby.
Unadulterated experience = fierce poetry = life as it is raining down upon us in all its glory.
Or snowing perhaps…
Ha! Raining and snowing and dangit, I’m keeping the petals OPEN! 😉 (And by the way, as the stellar math student I am, I’d like to say that your equation above is the most accurate and balanced I have ever come across.)
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I shoveled our first batch of thick white stuff today. The power went out in the night, came back, then disappeared altogether. Our smoke detectors shrieked briefly in delight. Thankfully, on this day of thanks, we have a generator. Our petals are fully deployed and yes, we are indeed, cooking with gas… 🙂