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In Praise of My Bed

This poem came up after a recent workshop with Mary Paffard. It captures the mood many students experience as they lie down into savasana at the end of there practice.

At last I can be with you!
The grinding hours
since I left your side!
The labor of being fully human.
working my opposable thumb,
talking and walking upright,
Now I have unclasped
unzipped, stepped out of.
Husked, soft, a be-er only,
I do nothing, but point
my bare feet into your
clean smoothness
feel your quiet strength
the whole length of my body.
I close my eyes, hear myself
moan, so grateful to be held this way. 
                       ~Meredith Holmes

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Fortnight Footnotes

A fortnight . . . fourteen days . . . seven time two twenty-four hour periods by ordinary conventional time-reckoning made biblically mystical as seven doubled.

High summer commands attention. As July sweats intensely in August, I find it best to be fully in the present, relishing how summer parades in her sassiest reds and purple while cicadas buzz day and night. Prone to live these long days outside, I am warned to stay indoors at midday. My lament about the heat soon shapes into a litany with its cadence nudging another memory to the fore. Last winter’s gigantic and enduring icy snowdrifts. The rhythms of my summer litany, markedly same. The metaphors, unsame. It is, I find, that intensity in the extreme draws forth meteorological litanies of lament, summer and winter alike.

Continuing the annual journey with the Hebrew prophets as they walk with our faith-ancestors, I feel intensely a heaviness of heart not dissimilar to the way oppressive humid heat cleaves to my skin. Their warnings seem as necessary and pertinent to my world today as to theirs several millennia ago. Even as the current notion “globalization” conjures the image of effective communication among people of all nations, wars, poverty, and greed prevail. Global economic institutions, ostensibly designed to regulate trade for the betterment of all, have instead wrought greater disparity between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. The legal sanctions of these same institutions serve as a most efficacious weapon of punishment for non-compliance.

Even while the 21st century is replete with resplendent cities, destitution and homelessness thrive, driving peoples to migrate from their homelands same as in nomadic days. The biblical “alien” is no less prevalent today as in Isaiah and Jeremiah’s era. Last century’s unlikely prophet, President Dwight Eisenhower warned in 1961: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” The deed is done. Some twenty-five years later, corporations became legally defined as “persons” with all the attendant rights and privileges. In the mid-nineties, global corporations began to operate with impunity in ways that frequently and ironically disregarded the rights of “humans” and other species.

It is to these practices that Jeremiah’s words from God resonate original truth in my heart. “Let my eyes run down with tears night and day, let them not cease, for . . . my people (are) struck down with crushing blow, with a crushing blow, with a very grievous wound. If I go out into the field look – those killed by the sword! And if I enter the city, look – those sick with famine!” [Jer.14: 17-18ab] It would seem that God’s heart is closer to the people then to any institution, civil or religious. For Jeremiah, who found the Temple rite and ritual to be a hollow burden for the people, God of the new covenant will not require such a culture or structure. Jeremiah witnesses to God’s most intimate covenant with the People, announcing: “ . . . says the Lord. I will place my law within them, and I will write in on their heart.” As did Jesus, I place my hope here.

Rita Sherman

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How does a Buddhist Deal with Grief

This discourse came to me at Monday night meditation sangha. Seemed something that should be shared like a good pot of tea ~

The Writing of Takuin Minamoto: “How does a Buddhist deal with the process of Grief and loss?”

Why should it matter that a Buddhist needs to deal with grief? In what way is that different from the needs of a Catholic? Or an Atheist? The system one adheres to is not a significant factor, as grief may be a reality with or without a system What matters is the grief; not YOUR grief, and not the Buddhist’s grief. Just grief.

There may be stages to this grief, or steps or processes, but all of that is after the fact analyzation. If you are a ‘Buddhist dealing with loss,’ you are already fighting through a system hoping to cope with grief; you don’t need to add to that by expecting a particular unfolding of events.

Of course, it may end up unfurling precisely in the way other’s have explained, but that is none of our concern. How it unfolds after the fact, is important only to the analyzer hoping to use it as a tool in the future. We’ll leave that to them.

I’m not sure that it is a matter of “dealing with” grief. This does not mean that it is not there. If it is there, it is there.

Takuin can remember — in the past –he would use grief as a way of feeling close to the person that had passed. It wasn’t a necessarily a conscious thought, but the need to be close fueled the grief and kept him attached to both it and the person.

Whenever Takuin would deal with grief, it was always HE and GRIEF, as if it were something apart from the self, or something that suddenly attacked without warning (there is always a warning). But now if there is grief, it is pure and free of attachment. There is nothing that solidifies it into an experience, and nothing that wishes for its continuation.

Grief without attachment is miraculous. When the felling comes and is allowed to be as it is, there is great beauty there.  There is no wasted energy trying to resist, and nothing to tell you things should be different for what they are. It is that grief — pure grief — that holds an unimaginable beauty. It is without the dirty fingers of the controller, and is a full spectrum of feeling untouched by our thoughts and desires. Untouched grief is beautiful.

Takuin asks you this: What have YOU lost?

Someone has died. Physically, they are no longer a apart of this world. (at least, not in the way we wish for them to be). They’ll never again call you on the phone. They’ll never again meet you for lunch. They’ll never again hold you in their arms.

Again: What have YOU lost? (Takuin in not saying you have, or have not lost anything.)

Think of what you had while they lived, and what you now have. Tell me the difference. This is nothing to do with what you want or what you feel  you should have done.  Just look at it and tell me what you have now. You may be able to rattle off one hundred different things you feel YOU have lost.

But again: What have YOU lost? I want to know.

How? Whenever you ask this question, you give away you power to find out for yourself. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as all you want to do is program your VCR. (Do people still own VCR’s?). But why on earth, if one is serious about liberation, would anyone ever ask someone else to give it to them? I can not see the value in this.

Questions and their answers can not be separated. The answers are the questions.

Never ask how to deal with grief. Grief is there to teach you how.

Filed under: Education, Uncategorized

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