"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about calming your mind and opening your heart enough to engage Life directly, to be more fully Present in a kind, clear, and helpful way."

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call! The Musings of a Long-time Student of Meditation

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Nothing Special. No Big Deal. (Part Two)

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”  
-- Rumi

There's a first time for everything.  

I suppose there is a last time for everything as well.  Each unique moment arises and passes away within the flow of eternity, so quickly that we can't actually grasp it.

With any luck at all, though, we can notice it, And, it seems to me, being Present, wihout judgment or commentary, is where the Real Magic exists.

Of course, this is easier said than done -- especially when I'm sitting at the computer intent on scribing a blog post.   

Usually I complete a piece and let it go.  Last week, I came to a point where I realized there was much more to say about the notion that there is really Nothing Special, that each moment of experience is No Big Deal.  I judged the commentary as incomplete.  Sigh.

Which brings me to the Present.  Sort of...

Looking back to that post, I saw that I wasn't satisfied with having proclaimed that in my Heart of Hearts I believed that everyone and everything should be loved and appreciated --and then immediately went on to say that this was No Big Deal.  Seemingly, I'd proclaimed that Unconditional Love was Nothing Special.  Another way of saying that is "God is No Big Deal!" That sounded a bit blasphemous, no?

And yet, as I Sit here this morning with the sun playing hide and seek with the clouds in a crisp blue sky,
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Friday, February 15, 2019

Nothing Special. No Big Deal. (Part One)

"Though my heart burns like a glowing hot coal, 
my eyes are as cold as dead ashes"
--  Soyen Shaku, Roshi

"If nothing is special, everything can be."
-- Charlotte "Joko" Beck, Nothing Special, Living Zen

Mother Nature's roller coaster ride continues.

After another significant snow storm this past week, She turned on a dime and started to rain.  

Now, a couple of days later, the National Weather Service is peering at a day in the lower 50's in their computerized crystal ball.  (We've already seen the temps swing from -11°F to 62°F over the course of four days earlier this month!) 

WTF?

Gazing at the melting snow outside the window, my mind can readily create a rant about the specter of global climate change. There certainly appears to be ample scientific evidence that we humanoids are stewing in our own juices.  Damn.

On the other hand, having seen lots of my friends suffer through some sort of nasty respiratory bug again this winter, I can readily forget about the global condition and narrow my horizons. What about a freakin' personal climate change! Why in the world don't I move my tail to warmer winters?  

But, wouldn't that be selfish?  Shouldn't I get off my tail and try to do something about the proposed change in the local zoning ordinance that may bring on more environmental degradation.

Buzz. Buzz. Yada yada yada.

Jeez Louise!

A Breath of Fresh Air

A grin.  One slow, deep breath  -- and "poof!"  

Sitting a bit straighter at the computer, feeling the sensations of my breath and body, I come to my senses and gaze out the window.

It's beautiful out there.  The gentle tapestry of soft color outside the window is soothing.  A deep silence, occasionally augmented by the twitter of a sparrow, washes over me.  In its embrace, it's easy to let the troublesome storylines dissolve.

The weather?  No big deal.  It simply is.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

What's Love Got To Do With It?

"Hatred never ceases by hatred. It is healed by love alone. 
This is the ancient and eternal law."
-- Buddha

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your strength and with all your mind. 
Love your neighbor as yourself.”
-- Jesus


An octogenarian friend of mine told me the other day that she was making Valentine's Day cards again this year to send out to some of her special friends.  

My first thought was, "How cool is that?"  Since she is quite a collage artist, I must admit my next two thoughts were, "I hope I make the cut," and "I'd love to get one."

Love to get one? Hmmmm...?

I don't know how it plays out in other languages, but it seems to me that in English the word love is amazingly imprecise.  The very same word, "love," applies to both the ultimate self-sacrifice that Jesus spoke of when he proclaimed, "Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life, " and the most possessive and jealous form of desirous grasping imaginable.  The very same word, love, casts a net that includes both the enlightened activity of the Bodhisattva Green Tara -- and the painful flailings of folks ensnared by the Green Eyed Monster!

Yet, we have it on "good authority" (see introductory quotes,) that the key to the Real Deal is Love.  So, what does the word "love" really mean? 

 Mean?

Yikes.  Here we go again: What does the word "mean" really mean?  

Its "meaning" runs the gamut from ultimate significance and purpose, to simply being nasty!  It reaches from the perfection of the Aristotelean  (and Buddhist) Golden Mean to the obnoxious underwater antics of the Blue Meanies.!?

Damn.  I mean give me a break here. 

It's Only Words...

Love? Meaning? These words certainly seem important, yet getting to the Truth of the Matter seems a bit problematic, no?  Conditioned as we are in a world that stresses the importance of conceptual thought, of words, much of our awareness is tied up in the stream of thoughts that dominate our attention.  Yet it's obvious that those words can be quite sloppy, even paradoxical.  Perhaps, words are not all that useful in our quest for fundamental clarity.

The Zen tradition stresses this point.  

At one point, during a teisho in sesshin years ago at the Rochester Zen Center, Bodhin Kjolhede Sensei asserted, "Every time I open my mouth,  I'm lying!"  He had obviously -- and very passionately -- opened his mouth at that moment.  I sat there bemused. 

Was Sensei telling the truth in that assertion -- or was he lying?

You tell me!
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Sunday, February 3, 2019

Good Vibrations

“Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand 
like curious children before the Great Mystery into which we were born.”
― Albert Einstein

"Attention is energy.  What you pay attention to you get more of."
-- Stephen Gaskin


As a kid I was extremely curious. 

I think we all were.  An open, questioning mind is part of our essential equipment.  Watch any toddler at play.  

Sadly, it seems that most of us are all too quickly conditioned to stifle that curiosity.  We are programmed to accept the prevailing beliefs about reality,  and "get with the program. " 

Somewhat clueless themselves, most parents, and even many schoolteachers, couldn't deal with our incessant questioning.  

It scared them.

Lest Ye Be Like Children

I spent a lot of time wandering around alone as a kid.  I remember coming across a broken camera in the alley that ran behind our apartment building in Chicago when I was about ten years old.  What a find!  

I took it home and immediately took it apart.  

Then, I wondered why the heck the world was upside down when I viewed it through the single lens I extracted from that camera?! After fooling around for awhile with the various lenses I then collected, I figured out how to right the image.  Soon, I was able to make objects appear larger.  Before long, I had made a telescope.  Then, I began logging the motion of Venus as it passed over the rooftop of the building across the alley night after night.  I noticed that it wasn't in the same place at the same time each evening.  Why not?

The question "why?" didn't scare me or frustrate me.  It evoked curiosity and a sense of wonder.

Later that same year, I discovered that an electric car I'd received as a Christmas gift made static on the radio's speakers whenever its path took it close to the radio.  WTF? Again curious, I took the car apart and discovered that the sparking of its electric motor created the noise in the radio's speakers.  There was an invisible energy traveling between the motor and the radio.  I'd discovered radio waves! Before all was said and done, I had cobbled together a homemade keying device and learned morse code so that I could send actual messages through space using invisible waves of energy.   

This early interest in invisible waves of energy continued.  

In junior high school I became a licensed ham radio operator -- and a musician.  Sound waves, radio waves, light waves.  They all fascinated me.  The idea that these waves operated at different frequencies, at different rates of vibration became clear to me.  I learned how to tune my guitar.  I learned how to tune my homemade transmitter to deliver maximum power at a particular frequency.  

Resonance seemed like high magic to me.  When the electronic attributes of a circuit hit a point where the rate of vibrations synched up perfectly, Shazam!  With the same amount of power that it took to light up a 75w light bulb, I could generate invisible waves that would radiate from my wire antenna hanging between two trees in Illinois to contact other ham operators.  One night, those waves reflected off the invisible charged particles in the freakin' ionosphere, then bounced back to earth and back to the ionosphere a couple of more times -- to communicate with a station at the South Pole!

How cool is that?  

It gets better.
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