Gratitude and more

On the verge of entering Rohatsu sesshin – the annual, traditional seven-day retreat remembering Buddha’s enlightenment – there is little to say. I wrote briefly at Here I will repeat only the poem, and the picture of the river.  It amazes me how happy I am these days, with so much trouble in the world. I would be embarrassed, if I did not think that deep calm was helpful to everyone. The troubles we are in arise fundamentally from imagining we are separate, thinking there is not enough, and thinking that someone (separate from us) will hurt us. Our thoughts serve to convince us that we exist, or that we are really how we imagine ourselves. We speak in order to get others to affirm our existence. But to let go of that fixed, permanent, independent existence is to be alive, connected, supported — alive.

“This is what you shall do:

Love the earth and sun and the animals,

despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,

stand up for the stupid and crazy,

devote your income and labor to others,

hate tyrants, argue not concerning God,

have patience and indulgence toward the people,

take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men—

go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers of families—

re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul;

Cannon River, early winter

Cannon River, early winter

and your very flesh shall be a great poem,

and have the richest fluency,

not only in its words,

but in the silent lines of its lips and face,

and between the lashes of your eyes,

and in every motion and joint of your body.”

–from Preface to “Leaves of Grass” (1855), Walt Whitman 

I will sit for seven days, and at the end there will be a service of healing and in memory of those who have died, particularly in violence. This is not a tradition but what arises for me in this time. 



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