|28 Nov 2008 @ 14:04|
The head is through, but the body is still sticking out.
A flower falls, even though we love it;
and a weed grows, even though we do not love it.
Kassan had a monk who left and went all around to the various Zen temples, seeking. But no matter where he went, the name of Kassan was mentioned to him as the name of a great master.
Finally the monk returned, interviewed Kassan, and asked: "You are reputed to have the greatest understanding of Zen. Why did you not reveal this to me when I was here earlier?"
Kassan said: "When you boiled rice, did I not light the fare? When you passed around food, did I not offer my bowl to you? When did I betray your expectations?"
With that the monk was enlightened.
Photo: Stan Honda / AFP/Getty Images
The title of this reluctant article is on the subject line of the latest message from David Plouffe, campaign manager of Obama For America. It came Tuesday, and suggests the grassroots hold house parties the middle of next month to energize supporters in continuing the message of hope. In the weeks before the election, David or someone from www.BarackObama.com used to email us every day, as did other Democrats and independent progressives. The others either have quit campaigning, fallen in a holiday heap of exhaustion, or gone back to work. Some of the progressive groups seem to be casting about for something to do or new issues to keep contributions coming in. But the Obama organization is trying to keep things together and the momentum going. At no point in Mr. Plouffe's message does he mention growing doubt as a matter for concern. The man isn't even President yet, but the Internet is groaning with disappointment.
My personal reaction to the election, as far as the Internet is involved in my life, was to sigh relief and vow not to bother readers with any more political writing. People who have known me for a while, and who encouraged me to write and post stuff, remember I used to compose reminiscences and pastoral observations of nature. I got very nice responses to that...and still do. But in the Roman tradition of the gentle farmer who must leave the plow and go to battle when the republic is under attack, I started to write political things several years ago. I lost a lot of readers doing that. They didn't want to know about it, or if they did know didn't want to read it on this piece of furniture many use only for recreation. I thought they'd be happy if they found out I was back!
And Thanksgiving yesterday at my home seemed to reflect the wisdom of this perception. We have a pretty animated political group of people who come here---and that includes some who have given up completely various dreams for the future. Everybody is vocal, and in past gatherings we've discussed current affairs in loud speeches. With the Hillary/Obama schism, there came debate and argument. But yesterday---I shall be corrected if wrong---I don't think a political notion was uttered. We talked about babies and traveling and food and shopping---actual normal American conversation. Our worries will be addressed and taken care of, and we can return to our gardens.
But then...but then, I venture into the news sites and blogs this morning, and I find no such peacefulness prevailed in cyberspace yesterday...or in the columns of newspapers. I'm sure there are plenty of articles about things to be thankful for, the usual ones, and we did a lot of gratitude in our house. But in reading today I have to say I soon was overwhelmed with crisis and gloom. So much so, that I hate to tell you I need to share it...not so much to spread it around, as to offer up a reality check. Is a sense of relief really called for? More >
|16 Jul 2008 @ 10:58|
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler.
The buds swell imperceptibly without hurry or confusion, as if the short spring day were an eternity.
---Henry David Thoreau
Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.
Reunion En Plein Air
I've titled this particular piece of pondering so that Google will pick up "Phil Mattson," and I'd better get right to the reason why. A couple years ago I wrote the first of a few articles about this remarkable vocal teacher, which you still can take a look at here [link] and a few other places on the Internet. The followup articles, like this one, came because of response from former students, who wish to express gratitude and make contact with each other. One of Phil Mattson's students from 25 years ago, Roy Turpin, has gone so far as to propose a reunion celebration next July in Creston, Iowa, where the venerable teacher continues to inspire young people. I'm trying to help spread the word a little bit. Contact me if you want referral to more information.
But what about this urge to reunion? It seems to be one of those traits we humans have come up with that's nowhere else in creation. I understand elephants have graveyards they revisit to mourn and remember relatives from the herd...but that's like Memorial Day. Some flying creatures migrate to the same places, but I guess they don't do that to say hello to each other. I wonder if dolphins and whales have reunions with those who have gone away from the pod.
Many of us who came up through the 1950s probably remember family reunions, where as a kid you didn't know anybody but hoped there might be distant cousins there you at least could play with. There was a lot of food, chiefly baked beans as I recall. Then came school reunions which rebellious outsiders like me tried to avoid at all cost. I enjoyed seeing old friends, but didn't want to risk rejection again by people who didn't like me in the first place. I phoned up a friend from college a few years ago, told him I'd be in town, and suggested we get together. He said he didn't see the point in visiting the past and so refused to see me. I never went that far, but I guess I can understand where he's at. More >
|20 Apr 2008 @ 17:08|
Lose your mind and come to your senses.
It gets late early out there.
A mystical experience is not any more unique than a modern experiment in physics. On the other hand, it is not less sophisticated, either....The complexity and efficiency of the physicist's technical apparatus is matched, if not surpassed, by that of the mystic's consciousness....A page from a journal of modern experimental physics will be as mysterious to the uninitiated as a Tibetan mandala. Both are records of inquiries into the nature of the universe.
I stepped out my front door this early morning and started down the driveway. Head lowered in thought, time to fetch the Sunday paper in the box down by the road, when I heard the first spring song of a wood thrush in our woods. He must have come back yesterday. I notice the juncos are packing up and moving out to the North woods for the summer. I looked around and the world was transformed. There hadn't been much rain yesterday, but it was slow and steady...and enough to bring on the first real burst of new leaves. The daffodils are mostly done, tulips in full blast, and redbud coming on at its usual leisurely pace. I'm sure there's plenty more wild flower action in the forest and by the creeks. But that thrush's song lifted my spirits to a healing high.
I just had read an email from my sister, describing her early retirement from administration in local public health in our hometown. The job had become more than tedious, with constant and increasing mandates "to do more and more with less and less." It had become dangerous to one's health, life-threatening. Retirement at 59, with 32 years of service...and she listed 3 others in community and environmental health who did the same thing in a matter of months. No double-dipping for these people, they've had it. How many others who chose careers of public service, before Reagan declared government work a waste of money and Gingrich labeled its workers bureaucrats to be gotten rid of, have done the same thing over the last decade? How many thousands, tens of thousands, from the top ranks of the CIA through the military and into the social agencies? Every level of government affected by budget cuts and increased paperwork to prove accountability. More >
|18 Feb 2008 @ 10:26|
Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.
Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.
Ultimately, let’s hope that the nation turns back to the task it abandoned — that of ending the poverty that still poisons so many American lives.
---Paul Krugman, in his column this morning, entitled Poverty Is Poison
It's so easy to not want the Clintons back in the White House. It's like that temptation to get with your old girl friend again from a few years back. It should have worked out, it could have worked out...but... There was all that nastiness, and stuff going on behind your back. The trust factor. Has she changed? Did she really do anything wrong? Yeah, ultimately everything got ruined. My whole life got ruined! Eight long years of hell while I tried to get over it. Now...do I want to risk going back to that?
We're a forgiving people. But worse, we're a forgetting people! We don't seem to learn from history. And we've become even more loud, pushy and obnoxious than we were accused of when we were only tourists. Now we insist of owning and controlling everything---and we dare to call that condition for others democracy and freedom. We only are interested in getting our own little piece of the pie...and then, shotgun in hand, bragging that America means no one can tell me what to do. The Clintons again? Isn't there another woman somewhere to run for this office?
And so we find ourselves turning around to see what Barack Obama is about. People ask and write What are his programs? Is this happening to you too? I've been replying that I'll wait to see if he wins the nomination and then get after the details. But how many presidents actually do what they say in their campaigns anyway? So what difference does it make? Well, we're having this primary in Ohio in a couple weeks. I've got to vote for one of them. Both families are running all over the state at the moment...but nobody's come down here yet. Bill Clinton was in Marietta last night, but we couldn't get up the stomach to go see him. They've got to get to Athens sooner or later.
And so it's with this kind of anticipation and disenchantment that I came upon a new website for me. It's called the Black Agenda Report, and it looks as if I'll be visiting there everyday from now on. The insolent montage illustrating this introduction comes from there. At the moment it's a place to go where people have had some history with Mr. Obama. The managing editor of the site, Bruce Dixon, has other issues to discuss, but right now he wants to share some concerns he has about this candidate. It think we may be hearing a lot about this site in coming days...and about these concerns. Here's Bruce Dixon last Thursday~~~ More >
|27 Nov 2007 @ 09:22|
soaking into the rocks,
the cicada's cries.
The whole moon and sky come to rest in a single dewdrop on a blade of grass.
Men cannot see their reflection in running water, but only in still water.
I remember my first plastic straw vividly. You know, a straw: what you put in your glass and suck and the beverage comes up through it and into your mouth. It's sort of a toy too; you can blow bubbles into it and make weird noises when the drink is gone down at the bottom. Sometimes they come in wild shapes that you have to suck harder on to get the liquid all through the roller coaster ride and down your throat. You could find them in a container on the soda fountain counter but quickly they came individually wrapped in paper. We'd tear off one end, dip the other into our milk shake, and blow the wrapper up to the ceiling where it would stick...much to the manager's consternation.
Before the plastic straw they were made of paper. And they'd get soggy eventually...and you'd have to ask for another one, and they just weren't pleasant. The plastic straw could endure the rigors of the milk shake of the 1940s and 50s. It wasn't a real milk shake if the straw didn't stand straight up in the middle of it. You wouldn't even go in a place again that didn't make shakes that thick. So the plastic straw filled a need for which the American civilization cried out.
The soda fountain was the center of social activity back then. Kids went there after school. The soda fountain had other concoctions and drinks there besides milk shakes. In fact it was the dairy bar that came along later that really specialized in the milk shake. If you go from a fountain to a bar, obviously you're getting more serious. The dairy bar was outside town and you needed the family car to get there. In fact, our family used to go to Jenkins Dairy after supper as a special treat...usually to sit at the bar and have milk shakes. But sometimes when we were feeling particularly flagrant and sinful, Mom would order a hot fudge pecan sundae...with whipped cream and a cherry.
A bit later, probably after I'd gone off to college and got filled with strange ideas, I began to think about those plastic straws. I thought during the process of manufacture, teeny tiny particles of plastic must have been left on the inside...so that when you sucked on them, those particles would come up through with the beverage and go down into you somewhere. What would become of those particles? Wouldn't they eventually form a glob of some kind...like when somebody dumps a shopping cart into a creek, the sand and stuff builds up all around it? Couldn't that be like a tumor...and maybe be involved in the cancer suddenly everybody seemed to be getting? Mom, a registered nurse, said I was crazy. More >
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