Monday, June 20, 2005

OPW (Other Peoples' Writings)

Long intense day at work today, but I got to open the zendo at night and unwind a little. Afterwards, we went out for sushi. Tomorrow may be the summer solstice and the longest day of the year, but I didn't get home until after 10:30 p.m. tonight after being out and about doing one thing or another for 14 hours. So I'll let other people write my blog for me today.

First, this great email about last Saturday's hike:

Dear Shokai,

Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the hike on Sunday . . . Afterwards I asked myself why I don't get out on the trail more often. I must say I've had many thoughts of the rattlesnake . . . This is some of what Joan Halifax (Buddhist, anthropologist, and deep ecologist) says in her book The Fruitful Darkness:

"'Poisonous' plants and creatures can be invoked as protectors, protectors of place. Within a bioregion, they protect the deeper forest and are allies to their ecologies. As allies of human beings, they protect against drowsiness and insensitivity, preventing us from charging through fragile terrain with a heavy foot and blind eye. They teach alertness and respect as we interact with place. . . Human beings have for a long time destroyed the protectors of the wild regions...That which requires one to be more careful, more mindful, is eliminated. And with the passing of wolf and rattler, poison oak and thorn, passes the integrity of the habitats they guard."

When I got home I got out my National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians. I'm certainly no expert but it seems to me the Timber Rattlesnake is what we saw - the problem in identifying a Timber Rattler is that coloration varies greatly and some, particularly in the deeper South, are very light in color. I've attached some images I found on the web , the first image [above] is a dark Timber and the second [below] is one of an Eastern Diamondback. What say you?

After such an enjoyable afternoon the drenching downpour, to my surprise, didn't dampen my spirits. Hope the same held for you.

In gassho,

The Buddha once said that his teachings were like a snake - you had to be careful how you picked it up. If properly handled, it can yield great medicine, but if one were not mindful, one could get bitten.

Next, I wanted to share this great piece by Greensmile from his blog:

"Before there were blogs, there were journals and in one of mine, a few years back, I wrote the following after being particularly struck by the first few chapters of Thoughts Without a Thinker:

"The insubstantiality of our lives is far deeper and more damning than the physical frailty and precariousness of our few years. Our greatest hollowness is that the huge stock we tend to put, are taught to put, into the notion of our "soul" or our identity or WHO we are, is misplaced. The great insubstaniality is that the convenient, if universally vague construct "I" around which we spin most of our thinking is in fact a mirage. This insubstantiality is, like its correlate and cousin, death, painful to ponder though liberating once accepted. That pain may be why, great truth that it is and as close to us as our eyebrows, we mostly go about blind to it, letting fleeting glimpses of it slip into the murky pool of things best forgotten. Abetted by every person we speak to and encouraged by all our fears to cling to this fiction, its reality swells from hope to perception to imperative until finally we find ourselves willing to end other lives because they threaten or disagree with the particular way in which we believe our own life to be somehow immortal.

"The first step of this fateful progression must be forgiven as it is stamped on our infancy and foregone groundwork of our being when we are too young to question. The illusion of unity is lent to us by our bodies. Parents and friends name us and so constantly greet us via a projection of the apparent wholeness of the package onto the presumed contents. We are creatures of speech who construct our worlds with language so having a name, a single label for whatever bubbles within us, has a practicality as forceful and omnipresent as gravity. After consciousness has jelled in that first mold, some escape the progression at one stage or another. The price of their freedom is that the escapees live either as a threat or a challenge to those who have graduated to being fully possessed by the eagerly accepted idea that their pool of mentation will never dry up."

Well put. That's exactly what I've been trying to say for many posts now.

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