The essay that I posted yesterday -- On Taking Refuge: A Play In Five Acts -- represents the first pass at an inquiry into the slippery fish of the question: what does it mean to take refuge?
I call this question a "slippery fish" because I've noticed, in recent weeks, how my mind resists settling into a position of looking directly at it, and allowing it to unfold, and instead wriggles and wiggles and squirms -- like a slippery fish -- somehow not wanting to actually see what there is to see (or not-see, as the case may be).
My sense of what is at the root of this "wriggling and wiggling and squirming" is Read More...
First: The Final Word
As Pure Awareness (Dharmakaya, Tao), I am the nondual "refuge" -- the true home -- of all appearances. Perceptions, sensations, thoughts and images arise and dissolve as playful modulations in/as Me, like waves arising and dissolving in/as the ocean, or movie-characters arising and dissolving in/as the movie-screen.
As such, Refuge -- like Truth, Love, Beauty, Wisdom, Compassion and Peace -- is one of My divine attributes, one of the facets of the jewel of True Self. Refuge is not some "thing" that needs to be sought, or found, or attained -- nor is it some thing that can ever, in Reality, be lost. It needs only to be recognized as always and already the case.
I Am Refuge.
This whimsical post, compliments of the Rambling Taoist --
"Yesterday, our apartment complex was assaulted -- yes, assaulted! -- by something far worse than locusts or the plague ..." read more
-- put a smile on my face, and brought to mind:
And left me wondering .... can we conclude anything other than: even locusts (and worse!) are -- in their truest substance, their inner-most nature, their heart of hearts -- God?
Last night I went to hear some Indian classical music. How wonderfully soothing and uplifting it was! -- that sweet dance between harmonium and tabla players; between the "male" and "female" tablas, beneath a single player's hands; between the musicians and the audience; between musical structure (of a given rāga) and in-the-moment improvisation, response-ability ....
"A human being is part of the whole called by us universe ... We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self ..."
~ Albert Einstein
Every day a wilderness -- no
shade in sight. Beulah
patient among knicknacks,
the solarium a rage
of light, a grainstorm
as her gray cloth brings
dark wood to life.
Under her hand scrolls
and crests gleam
darker still. What
was his name, that
silly boy at the fair with
the rifle booth? And his kiss and
the clear bowl with one bright
Not Michael --
something finer. Each dust
stroke a deep breath and
the canary in bloom.
Wavery memory: home
from a dance, the front door
blown open and the parlor
in snow, she rushed
the bowl to the stove, watched
as the locket of ice
dissolved and he
That was years before
Father gave her up
with her name, years before
her name grew to mean
Long before the shadow and
sun's accomplice, the tree.
~ Rita Dove, from Thomas And Beulah
A couple weeks ago I noticed -- on the outskirts of the little woods behind my home -- three trees whose trunks were newly adorned with bright yellow plastic ribbons. In seeing this, I concluded that these three trees had been selected for either pruning or complete uprooting. I hoped it the former rather than the latter, though guessed that at least one of the three -- the one which had, on windy days, consistently been losing large branches, and generally just didn't seem to be very healthy -- was now marked for, shall we say, a "transition" into wood-chips.
Meanwhile, the squirrels continued their circus-like antics, within the matrix of branches, seemingly oblivious to the change Read More...
"The appearances of the waking state do not actually differ even a whit from the appearances of the dream state, and if we recognize dream as dream, then release from suffering is instantaneous.
If right now we recognize our fixated attachment to friends, reputation and possessions, our hatred for enemies, and all other emotivity as dream appearances and understand them as nonexistent, as mere notational-conceptual products of mind, then external, material things will not be able to disturb us. Realizing that everything is apparent yet nonexistent -- just images of emptiness -- we attain the great citadel of everlasting pure pleasure."
~ Tulku Pema Rigtsal, from The Great Secret Of Mind
(translated by Keith Dowman)
As a teenager, and for reasons I can only guess, I was way into James Bond: the books, the movies. Perhaps it was his high-tech miraculous mahasiddha-like escapes? Perhaps it was his utter calm (a mastery-beyond-mastery of samatha meditation?) in the face of what seemed to be utterly-intractable circumstances? Or perhaps it was just the enjoyment of a good mystery-adventure? In any case, it was always with bated breath that I awaited the next in the series .....
If you also happen to be a James Bond fan, you'll likely recall the scene in Goldfinger which features the epidermal-suffocation-via-gold-gilding of one of Mr. Bond's romantic liaisons. Read More...
"Therefore being connected with companions who have the same mind is the most important thing in the cultivation of the Tao. However, companions who share the same mind are very difficult to discern. They have no form and no image, no sound and no color, no front and no back. Facing evil, they transform themselves into yakshas; facing goodness, they transform themselves into bodhisattvas.* Their transformations have no limit: they conceal or manifest themselves in unfathomable ways. Everyone has them in front of their eyes, but misses them. If you are unwilling to discern the true, day after day they increasingly separate from you.
When all of a sudden an intimate friend appears, you become of one mind with him: walking, standing, sitting, or lying, neither of you separates from the other for a single instant. . . . Those who intend to cultivate Reality might be without external companions, but should never be without internal companions."
~ Liu Yiming (h/t Golden Elixir Blog)
* In Buddhism, a yaksha is a minor deity who protects from evil, and a bodhisattva operates for the liberation of all beings. Liu Yiming seems to say here that the "internal companions" protect one in unfavorable circumstances, as do the yakshas, and support one when the circumstances are favorable, as do the bodhisattvas.
Something like a half-person
left my young husband's body,
and something like the other half
left my ovary. Later,
the new being, complete, slowly
left my body. And a portion of breath
left the air of the delivery room,
entering the little mouth,
and the milk left the breast, and went
into the fat cuffs of the wrists.
Years later, during his cremation,
the liquids left my father's corpse,
and the smoke left the flue. And even
later, my mother's ashes left
my hand, and fell as seethe into the salt
chop. My then husband made
a self, a life, I made beside him
a self, a life, gestation. We grew
strong, in direction. We clarified
in vision, we deepened in our silence and our speaking.
We did not hold still, we moved, we are moving
still -- we made, with each other, a moving
like a kind of music: duet; then solo,
solo. We fulfilled something in each other --
I believed in him, he believed in me, then we
grew, and grew, I grieved him, he grieved me,
I completed with him, he completed with me, we
made whole cloth together, we succeeded,
we perfected what lay between him and me,
I did not deceive him, he did not deceive me,
I did not leave him, he did not leave me,
I freed him, he freed me.
~ Sharon Olds
Generally speaking, I find the work of Sharon Olds a bit too psychological for my tastes .... but this poem I love -- how it points, in its elegant and playful-serious way, to ever-flowing dependent co-arising: how phenomena appear continuously to be creating one another, in a kaleidoscope of shape, color, sound, taste and texture.
It brought to mind Dogen's Time Being -- the in-seeing of the non-separation of space and time (how so-called "objects" are, more properly, "time-being"); dissolving into the in-seeing of the non-separation of duration (space-time expansion as Shakti / Rupakaya) and eternity (Shiva / Dharmakaya) --
-- whose seeing is the Freedom which can then say, as in the final line of the poem -- "I freed him, he freed me" -- by knowing each and the other as not-separate from this Freedom: as never, in Reality, having been "born" (into apparent separation).