Monday, August 16, 2010

Morning Prayer

With joy, I move through the waking dream,
As the keys of logic rattle in my ears
I look for You, my Lama
I look for my Lover of Coral
And find that nothing is real. 

Why does suchness not stop when Angels leave?
Where does It come from when merit fields ripen?

Morning prayers.
Letters written on a stream
of deathless nectar.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Chi and Jedrak

Studying chi (quality) and jedrak (characteristic of that quality) which amounts to car (quality) and Chevy (characteristic of car). Thanks to Geshe Michael Roach and ACI 13: Art of Reason. The course is taken from the Commentary of Valid Perception by Master Dharmakirti (650 AD). I just can't give up this course. I keep reviewing it over and over again because it feels like I need to get more specific.

The rik chi or overall quality, combined with the dun chi or mental image. In some ways I get it, but in other ways I don't. They say you could meditate on this for years. I feel like I don't have that time. I want to get enlightened NOW. I'm an American, I'm impatient. My parents are suffering, my friends are getting gray hair, their hips are widening, I know people who have died while I've been studying.

I've been holed up in my apartment most of the week. If I could just get it together in my head. I'm going to keep trying.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Monk Named Intellect

I'm reviewing and re-listening to all the logic classes in ACI, The Art of Reason. On class one and review of the two reasons to study logic. Of course, the first is to see emptiness. But the second is to be a holder of the dharma. But there's also a negative reason: to stop me from judging others.

In the sutra they recount the story of a Monk named Intellect who started up a monastery keeping Vinaya vows when he was visited by a Monk named Pure Life. Pure Life and his followers began staying with Intellect. Townsfolk asked for teaching and Pure Life began going into town. He was asked more and more and started spending time away from the monastery. Intellect started judging and critiquing Pure Life. He thought something devious was going on when Pure Life went into town. He made a rule that no one could go into town any more who lived in the monastery. Pure Life followed the rule for a while but the towns people begged and pleaded. Out of compassion Pure Life left the monastery and started teaching again.

Pure Life passed on and was a fully-enlightened Buddha. When Intellect passed on he wen to hell for billions of years. He was tortured unbearably and he judged and tried to hurt the spreading of the teachings.

The punch line to this tale is that Lord Buddha said 'he knows this story because he was the monk named Intellect who went to hell."

I think about the anger toward Lebron James and his ESPN special "The Decision." I remember that the special raised millions of dollars for the Boys and Girls Club and I'm reminding of not judging what I see.

In a larger way, I think about all my petty grievances and judgments against people for their attitudes and behavior. I have no idea what's going on. Maybe that person who appears to be annoying, selfish and rude is raising millions of dollars for Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Maybe the Republicans shrieks and even the Tea Parties stances are doing something that is very beneficial for Obama in the long run, and for the nation...somehow.

I'm acting in direct ways, more and more each day. But I'm trying to reserve judgment about who each person is and what they're really thinking.

Verses of Drumsong, King of the Serpentines*

By Lord Buddha

The sea is not my problem,
My task is not the mountains,
My job is not the earth;
My calling's rather to attend
That I should never fail
Repaying kindness granted me.

*Teaching by Lord Buddha recounting the story of a serpentine king, as admonition to his monks for quarreling.

Even a Cow Knows How...

By Master Chandragomi

Even a cow knows how
To take care of himself,
To eat a few clumps of grass
He easily comes across;

Even the beast can merrily drink
From a pool of water he finds
As bitter thirst Torments him.

But think now what it is
To put your whole heart
Into taking care of others;

This is glory,
This is a park of pleasure,
This is the ultimate.

......

The Sun
Climbs aboard his fantastic chariot,
Flies across the sky,
Lights up all the world.

The Earth
Raises up his mighty arms,
Bears the load,
Holds up all mankind.

And so is the way
Of those great beings
Who wish nothing
For themselves,

Their lives devoted
To a single song:
The well-being and the happiness
Of every living thing

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Brooklyn High

Cresting clocks round 12
fallen leaves from empty skies
hauling lunch from shelves
pounding stones un-knotting ties
Brooklyn noon-time lullabies

Friday, August 6, 2010

Kit-Sitter

These cats just sit there looking me with this look of boredom. Too bored to eat, too bored to move, too bored to live. It looks like all of us have come down with a case of August syndrome.

I'm sitting cats this weekend for my friends in Innwood. They're going camping upstate and their mellow house cats wouldn't be thrilled to be out in the humid dank of August. I agreed as an opportunity for a few days of thinking, writing, and studying. I try to raise myself from the stupor and the dull-laconic looks from the cats aren't helping. They'll sprawl out on the floor, indifferent to whether I step on them or not. They make no effort to escape or explore. There is nothing left to be seen in the two-bedroom apartment.

They yawn and lay in separate rooms. For their sake, I hope there is such a thing as cat daydreams. Do they imagine past lives as Roman Emperors and Cleopatra? Do they want to walk on two feet?

I could be writing but...it''s August. The writing will come. Later.

August Reflections

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Who is the Nigger? -James Baldwin (clip)

Night Prayer

By Aurin Squire

These words will sing.
Clear as a tear drop.
Clean like bleached bones.
A well-made verse,
Calls us back home.

Midnight Visions (written at 12:40 a.m.)

By Aurin Squire

In arbored hollows I carve these songs.
Chariots driven by beasts of sound.
Yolked to heavy burdened cries,
I ride the words like Cavalry.

Whipping equine legs and breast.
Necklaced blood on cavern chest.
Round and round faster the pace pressed,
under the measured driving stress.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Quail Eggs, Jellyfish, and West Hampton

Pat reached inside his bag and said he had something for me to see. I leaned back in my chair and patted myself down for the LIRR round-trip ticket I had just purchased from Atlantic-Pacific stop to West Hampton for the weekend. He found what he was looking for before I could find my ticket. With a flourish, he produced a tiny plastic pack with 18 petite bubbles with spotted brown and black orbs inside.

"Quail eggs," I guessed correctly before he turned the carton over to show the label. He looked disappointed that I didn't even hesitate in my answer. I brightened my eyes and re-answered: "Wow! Quail eggs!" Pat nodded and smiled. He got them from Whole Foods at Columbus Circle. They were next to the electric-green, avocado-sized Emu eggs and the grapefruit sized pearls listed as 'ostrich eggs.' Emu were several dollars for each one and an ostrich egg cost about $40. The quail eggs were $7 for 18 tiny eggs that equaled maybe 3 chicken eggs in yolk.

I never had quail eggs and was intrigued but my body pat-down had become slightly panicked. After several minutes of the macarena I found them lodged in between some papers. My mind could relax and return the topic of quail eggs. Boiling them seemed like the best way to maximize the experience. Pat also had some Celtic sea salt in his bag. The only thing I brought for this journey was an assortment of day old fruit and nuts. Next time I'll bring something more exotic.

Pat and I have gone up to the West Hamptons a few times. We meet up with our friend Pam, who has this vintage 1940s beach house, which she has restored to its glory days. The past few years we went up there, it was mostly to help in the restoration process. I removed rust from vintage art deco dining room lights, sanding off grim from kitchen cabinets, and did some minor detailing for chairs and tables. I also fought the sand dunes that were encroaching on the back porch and wall. A few metal stakes were pounded into the ground and we all helped insert some wooden planks to serve as a dam against the tons of sand that were being blown slowly into the backside of the house. Then I began shoveling the sand for a few hours onto the other side of the sand dam. A few new coats of paint and pounding down some boardwalk planks and the beach house looks remarkable. A high plumage of trees, vines, and bushes hides the cabin from the main road. On each side of the beach house are rows of New England mansions and modern-looking glass bird houses.

We got into West Hampton by 11:30 and Pam took us to a local diner in Hampton Bay. Despite the Hampton's posh image, there are still plenty of regular places that serve large portion diner food and we ate huevos rancheros, coconut cookies and a large wedge of bread pudding with seltzer water.

The weekend was amazing. Too many things to list and yet it was a fairly simple two-day getaway. All we did was eat, swim, talk, sleep, swim, eat some more, and go for walks on the beach. Cell phones were off most of the time, I checked my email once for 5 minutes, and no TV. Pam's house is lined with dozens of classic books. Her parents owned the house and she said they were voracious readers. Furthermore they lived next to a book editor so they were getting the best of the best for decades. Each room has piles of sea shells in jars, platters, and decorating the wall. I took the bedroom facing the beach and slept with the window open. I went to bed hearing the lapping waves and smelling the salt. I could sleep 8 hours every day if I went to bed near the ocean.

I also saw jellyfish for the first time. In fact the sand was pocked with the clear jellyfish glistening in the bright sun. They were without tentacles and harmless. I scooped up one with a sea shell and carried it back to our beach chairs.

In the morning Pat broke out the quail eggs. He boiled them for a few minutes and we scooped out 18 little brown-looking rocks. Pam toasted 7-grain bread and I buttered the bread and sprinkled sea salt on to the sticky side. Then I broke off pieces of the bread and wrapped the peeled eggs in the salty, buttery goo. Quail eggs taste almost exactly like chicken eggs. If I had a better palette I could probably discern what exactly was the after-taste that made it slightly different. The inside of the pealed shells was light blue and matched the beach house.

Pat broke out his 8 mm vintage camera with a 3-minute roll of silent film. Now I know why all those old 60s home movies feel so stage. When you only have 3 minutes, there is no time to waste. Every scene has to be thought out. Pat filmed the boardwalk and the patio.

Sunday late afternoon we crowded back on to a west-bound train. The car was filled with hungover teenagers with smiley face stickers covering their clothes and skin. We guessed -perhaps snobbishly- that they were probably heading back to New Jersey after a weekend on a party boat drinking and popping pills. Everyone was wearing sunglasses, texting, and occasionally moaning.