Saturday, September 20, 2014

Jeremiah

Budapest Catacombs, 2004

I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was waste and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.
I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved to and fro.
I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.
I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful field was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at his presence and before his fierce anger.
For thus saith he: The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.
(Jeremiah 4:23-27)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Futbol Americano


Last night, we took a client out to the Georgia Dome to watch the Atlanta Falcons play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Thursday Night NFL Game.  It wasn't pretty: we left during the Third Quarter after Atlanta had taken a 42-0 lead,  The final score was 56-14.


I'll say this about the NFL: this is as naked an example of American culture as one can imagine. Loud, violent, gaudy, and as commercial and capitalistic as it can get.  The price on my ticket was $209, although I was told it actually cost a lot more than that, but the company bought it, not I, so I can't tell for sure. The luxury boxes, the corporate suites, the expense-account prices - corporations may not be people as some think, but they sure drive the cost up for people.  Add to that the advertising on the big Jumbotron screen, advertising on the sidelines, awkward time outs during the game for televised advertisements, and I give you America - televised, capitalized, and sold to the highest bidder.

Having said all that, it was thrilling and I loved it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Do You Realize?


Realizing impermanence is knowing that your children and your children's children are all going to die. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Balance

Bicycle Race, Schenectady, New York, 1991
The state of natural balance we experience when making effort without an intentional aim  (jijuyō-zanmai) is not at all unlike riding a bicycle.  

We experience a state of balance and equilibrium when riding a bicycle, but it doesn't come about as a result of bike riding - it is the state we achieve in order to ride.  In fact, if we thought about riding in terms of "First, I'll get on the bicycle, then I'll find my balance, and then I'll start riding," or "First I'll get on the bicycle, then I'll start riding, and then achieve a state of balance," we'd surely crash and fall.  This is exactly why it's so hard for children to learn to first ride - they don't understand that the motion and the balance are all one thing, they over-think the situation, and they fall to the ground.

It is the same with skikantaza (sitting meditation without an intentional aim).  The balance between making the effort (sitting on the cushion) and letting go of intention is as natural and necessary as the balance of bicycle riding.  And like bike riding, you might not quite get it the first couple of times, but with just a little practice, the balance is as free and easy as a summertime cruise.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Assessment and Settlement


The roof saga continues.  Today, the insurance assessor came by to peel back the tarp, inspect and assess the damage, and offer me a settlement.


They weren't interested in buying me a new roof.  Instead, they estimated the cost to replace three roof shingles damaged by the fallen limb, as well as damage to the bedroom ceiling.  They cut a check right on the spot which was nice, but it's only enough to replace three roof shingles and fix the damage to the bedroom ceiling.   


I'm going to have to find a way to pay for a new roof, which probably means that I will have to sell a kidney dip into my IRA,  Sale of my house is an important part of my retirement plan, and an old leaky roof may well diminish its market value by a greater amount than i would be withdrawing from my savings,

 Impermanence.  Roofs, retirement plans, gutters, economies - nothing lasts forever.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Path

Athens, Georgia, 2013
The balanced state, called samadhi by the Buddhists, is not the result of effort without aim, called shikantaza in Japanese.  

The balanced state of samadhi is the way that effort without aim is expressed,  It is the journey, not the destination.  

The samadhi of shikantaza is the journey.  The destination is your life-and-death.  In other words, we engage in practice in order to fully experience life-and-death, we do not live-and-die in order to engage in practice.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Statement About Permanence

Post Theater, Fort McPherson, Atlanta, 2014
"A statement about permanence is about no permanence." - Shakyamuni Buddha, from The Lankavatara Sutra