Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April Flowers


The azaleas are still holding up, but with tonight's temperatures forecast to fall into the low 30s, this might be the last of them for the year.  "Flowers, while cherished, fade" (Zen Master Dogen).


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dream Journal

In a dream last night, I was trying to explain to a six-year-old girl (possibly a projection of my little sister) that the word for "trombone" derives from the French "trompe l'oeil."  To demonstrate, I mimed playing a trombone, while a friend of mine was beat-boxing, but I was getting annoyed with him because he kept playing too-fast, hip-hop beats, and I wanted him to play slower, New Orleans-style second-line beats more appropriate for trombone.

I woke up wondering how I knew that "trombone" derived from "trompe l'oeil," and when I looked it up in Webster's On Line, I found that the word actually derives from the Italian tromba, or "trumpet." 

So now I'm wondering if my subconscious life is getting so rich that I'm starting to dream in French puns.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Excerpts from Today's Email Correspondance

. . . Buddhism has historically struggled with the dualistic and goal-oriented aspects of "enlightenment" over "samsara."  The Mahayana revolution and its emphasis on the bodhisattva model of helping others before helping oneself and Zen's direct pointing to the here and now were both attempts to overcome desire for and clinging to some happier future life or some other state of being.  One of the most difficult teachings is that of "enlightenment" as the last delusion, which is not to say that Enlightenement itself is a delusion, but that clinging to our concept of "enlightenment" surely is. . .

. . . As long as people look to spiritual practice as something that will remove their suffering, as opposed to something that will help them accept their suffering, then practice will just be just another commodity, a materialistic thing that can be taken off the shelf when needed and ignored when not, and finally won't even work when called upon and ultimately rejected as "useless" and "irrelevant" . . .  

. . . By and large, I've come to reject the "organized" and so-called "religious" aspects of zen in favor of a more self-directed, contemplative path.  I consider the emphasis put on the teacher-student relationship in Zen largely as a holdover from a medieval, monastic model, from a time before mass communication, and flavored by Confucian attitudes of obedience and fealty.  And I can't help but notice that the emphasis put on following a teacher is usually promoted by those who are themselves teachers, making me wonder if its true spirituality or mere marketing. . . 

. . . In my 15 or so years of practicing Soto Zen Buddhism in an organized setting, I've seen far, far more people put off from the practice by the teacher and discouraged from practice by the hierarchy than I've seen brought to deeper understandings in that setting.  And those who seemed to have deepened their practice and experience seem to have done so as much from working with the larger sangha as a whole or from taking on some sort of teaching role themselves than from their association with the head teacher. . . 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

It's That Week Again . . .


. . . The azaleas are in bloom.  Won't last long and hardly have time to notice now that I work some 20 miles away from home, but tonight, I can enjoy their short-lived effort.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Cognitive Dissonance

"Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong.  When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted.  It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance.  And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit in with the core belief."  - Frantz Fanon