Saturday, December 31, 2011

Summer Dream

I walked to the bank yesterday.  The put-your-money-in-and-take-your-money-out bank.  Though I would rather have walked to the bank of a river – a small river flowing  gently around a bend – grassy on either side as it meanders down through the small valley.  I would rather have stood there in the field next to the water and received the riches of the subtle sounds – the slowly whirling wisdom of the many currents.  The endless dance of beauty and love. 
I might have bent over and put my hand in the river to splash water on my face and enjoyed the sun on my back.   And then perhaps I would have abandoned decorum’s tight grip and enjoyed the thrill of taking my clothes off in broad daylight and slipped into the gentle river to be held by the sweet swirling wetness. 
I would certainly have ducked under – even done a somersault or two just for fun – floated on my back – not caring if my privates were floating in plain sight for the birds or passers-by to see.  Not too long would have been just fine – the day – the responsibilities of lifetimes easily washed away in the clear flowing water. 
I would have come back to the shore – walking carefully on the rocky bottom – or even if it was mucky and dark, I would even have been OK with that.  Tenderly wading to the shore to stand up and shake off like a dog with no fur.  Shaking my arms and legs, my white butt cheeks, and my privates jiggling with all the rest and even my now beginning to sag man breasts.  But even that is OK in the warm sun by the river.  I don’t dawdle with no clothes on for too long.  Even in my dream I don’t want to cause trouble – don’t want someone to be upset by my nakedness.  That’s not the point. 
Though maybe if someone saw me, they would want to join in – they would want to take their clothes off too.  Perhaps then there could be any number of us in the river – floating with the currents – baring our private parts – breasts, vulvas, balls, dicks – all exposed – all relieved not to have to play the dark parts of hidden desire.  Soaking in the sunlight – flopping free in the air and caressed lovingly in the water.  Then we’d all come out of the water – secretly stealing glances at each other’s oddly normal bodies but not wanting to stare.  We’d shake and dress – then all go back to the dream of our life. 
The car repair guy would lean again over the hood of the car – his freshly clean hands dirty once more.  And the young woman with the large breasts who serves me coffee would still pretend we’re just casual acquaintances over the counter.  She would tell me once more about the courses she is taking at the local college – working for her degree and trying to care about things that are not that interesting.
            We might even all agree to meet again the next day – maybe everyday – to be baptized – cleansed.  To begin again – be born over and over.  To regularly leave behind our clothes and roles and responsibilities.  To receive the riches of the water – the life-giving water. 
And perhaps, one day, one of us would decide to stay in the water.  ‘So long everyone, I’m not getting out today.  I’m not going back.  I’m joining the river – casting my lot with the whirling wetness.  I’m floating away.  You can have my bicycles and my computer.  You can have all my clothes.  Look after my garden if it interests you.  I’m headed for wilder territory.’ 
I would drift away down the river – leaving everything on the bank.  And everyone would be cheering – so happy for me.  Knowing that this was my time to begin.  They would all be waving – partly naked on the bank – for once not caring about clothes or no clothes – not needing to look at each other or worry about being looked at. 
They stand waving to me as I float down the river – letting the current guide me – around bends and between rocks – I soften as I go.  The river gets bigger and bigger.  I’m joined by other floaters coming from other upstream sources.  We greet each other with shouts of joy – but our shouts now sound like the water itself.  We can’t really tell.  It makes no difference.  Larger and larger – joining in with more and more. 
By the time we reach the sea, everything is revealed.  Nothing held back.  Nothing held together.  Perfectly naked and undone. 
We spend the rest of our perfect eternity singing songs and ditties of joy and peace.  Our harmonies resound through the universe. 
Oddly shaped beings on impossibly distant planets pause in their unimaginable labors to appreciate our faint melody that comes to them from across the cosmos.  They smile and shake their heads in recognition, pausing for just a moment before returning to the life they call normal.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

First Day

            First day of the sun-returning year. 
Spinning through universes unnoticed – our tiny earth revolving around an insignificant star.  Seen from the imagined whole we are immeasurably small and of less than momentary duration.  And yet the cycles keep coming – keep spinning – keep dancing.  This ancient pirouette.  Born yesterday – from stars’ devastation.  Exploding universes that are mother and father to us all.  
Everything is used.  Each insignificant part is essential and is enlisted in the in the current of all.  Willing or not – each and every one of us will be used up fully.  All our dreams and all our fears.  All our successes and all our failures.  All our friends and all our enemies. We are not separate -- not from ourselves -- not from each other.  Not from the wild immeasurable whole.
And someday soon, the beneficent flow of this cosmic dance will require each of us to give up our borrowed bits of the universe – the elements and energies that have temporarily coalesced into the dust dervishes we call ourselves.  Every last particle and intention must be returned.  In sadness beyond measure we must loose all we have and be released back into the belly of God - our primordial freedom. 
            This dark morning is warm enough here in New England to be unsettling.  The softness of the moist air on my cheeks makes me fearful of rising oceans and melting ice caps and grand catastrophe.  But somehow cheerfully undeterred, I circumambulate the Temple – stopping to light a stick of incense to the granite Buddha who kindly watches over it all.  The white night clouds are flayed by the dark wind and effortlessly part to reveal a momentary star, then hide the treasure once more. 
I stop in the darkness behind the Temple to speak silently with the bareness of the winter trees – trusting their thousand branching arms that gently waving along with mine.  
 (Painting by Hakuin)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Boundless Way Rohatsu Sesshin 2012

Once again 
the best ever. 
Astonished gratitude rises
for the warm-hearted presence 
of dharma brothers and sisters, 
for the protections of this lovely temple,
and for this ancient Zen path that
winds us together so intimately
in the ever-unfolding 
wonder of being human.
Just this.