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It has been years since i took the time to rewind a movie and write down the words being spoken. I did after watching Heaven and Earth. I think the last time was many years ago while watching the Piano. Something Ada said resonated with my life at that time of undergoing the beginning phases of awakening of K Ma without a frame, language, or understanding.

“At night! I think of my piano in its ocean grave, and sometimes of myself floating above it. Down there everything is so still and silent that it lulls me to sleep. It is a weird lullaby and so it is; it is mine. There is a silence where hath been no sound / There is a silence where no sound may be / In the cold grave, under the deep deep sea.”

I saw the Piano a year before going into the Void experience. I would lie still and meditate and would go to the ground of being, self would dissolve and there was just dark spaciousness without any sense of boundaries or self. Each time was a diving into dying and finding open expansion. The above words where like a godsend for they expressed a bit of the space where i did not have words.

These words by Phang Thi Le Ly captured so much  feel these  20 years later.

Heaven and Earth is an Oliver Stone movie, i believe the third in a trilogy of Vietnam. It portrays the life experience of Phang Thi Le Ly that co-authored the two memoirs on which the film is based. This is a great movie.

This part of the movie was when Thi Le Ly had returned to Vietnam, after coming to America where she continued to a new kind of hell with her American PTSD affected husband. The first is Thi Le Ly listening to her Mother’s final blessing of her life and then moves into a Le Ly reflecting on her life:

Le Ly’s Mother:  “My Le Ly you have completed your circle of growth; low tide to high tide, poor to abundant, sad to happy, beggar to be a fine lady, the past is now complete My destiny of your Mother is now over.”

Le Ly: “That night i slept in the house of father had built, afterward he found no need to visit me in my dreams.”

” I gave my offering to all the dead of the village. I had come home, yes. But home had changed and i would always be in between South and North, East and West, peace and war, Vietnam and America. It is my fate to be in between Heaven and Earth. When we resist our fate we suffer, when we accept it we are happy. We have time and abundance and eternity to repeat our mistakes, but we need only once correct our mistakes and are at last, hear the song of enlightenment, where we break the chain of vengeance forever. In your heart you can hear it now, it is the song your spirit has been singing since the moment of your birth.

If the monks are right and nothing happens without cause, then the gift of suffering is to bring us closer to God. To teach us to be strong where we are weak, to be brave when we are afraid, to be wise when we are in the midst of confusion, and to let go of that which we can no longer hold. Lasting victories are won in the heart,not on this land or that.”

I do not believe in suffering, but i have known suffering. . .and all people have varying degrees of suffering and it is possible to overcome suffering. Most of us come into the world whole but in darkened awareness of our wholeness, we quickly grow an ego that wants all kinds of things to fill the holes. We are born into a body that rises and falls, lives and dies, the body is corruptible and will go through a dying process that involves suffering for many people. To deny that for our self and especially as a judgment for others is to lose our compassion.

But having said that, I deeply believe it is possible to rise above suffering, for I have. There comes a place where as we loose attachment for the physical as being our identity. We are able to shift our identity to a truer space, and suffering turns into a pain that can more easily be released.

I have observed animals in pain. Often times veterinarians says that animals do not experience pain. I do not agree. They experience pain, but unlike us humans they do not contract and hold on to the pain. Most of our suffering comes from holding on to pain and turning it into a badge or identity, expressing as enhancement or deficiency. Ugh!. . .turning into neurosis. And those too can be endearing or maddening.

For me the process of becoming has led to transcending the attachment to suffering. I can best represent that with the simple Tao symbol. For years i danced back and forth with pain and pleasure, me not me, good and bad, all the dualities which clutch and pull one into wanting something other than how it is. When i was not accepting what is and thinking something out there could fill it or something that did not occur was the cause, that turned to suffering. But there comes a time we take responsibility and rather than projecting something unfinished or unacknowledged out there as the cause of our suffering we learn to contain it. At that place of containing something miraculous can occur instead of identifying with the yin/yang of suffering attachment/rejection, we can find with the circle that has everything within. At that place suffering dissolves and something else occurs; because we have learned to embrace all within, we find we can honor others and allow them to be as they are without judgment or contraction.

Suffering was once a teacher, and i gave suffering the knife time and time again she wielded it against me until one day i said, ” No more, i shall not resist, i embraced it all, come here dear suffering, for you are so afraid of dying, and suffering you are just a way to keep me separate from the most profound embrace of love and oneness with all. Come here suffering let me hold you for a moment as you disappear.”

Now i know suffering is so very different than pain, pain is part of life, and suffering is when i block or move into defense to keep from feeling what is . . . and what is amazing is once one can just feel “what is” without judgment, blame, or shame . . . it turns into  lightness and validation which strengthens the heart and soul.

Soon the embrace of life, both pain and pleasure, brought a wholeness  ” such as it is “, ” and this too”. . . .

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By Ross Bolleter Roshi

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” When Michal, my composer friend from Slovakia, was driving me out from Bratislava to show me the eastern regions of this country, especially his birthplace Lengow, in the foothills of the High Tatras, he asked me a lot of questions about Zen and how to live it. I found his questions challenging – such questions always are – but their radical simplicity was far more confronting because I spoke no Slovak and he spoke just enough English for us to deal with practical matters and in a vague way to feel out the contours of each other’s lives.

Once he asked me, ‘What is Zen?’ and I replied that ‘the countryside looked splendid now that the sun had come up.’ As always after my responses to his questions he would remain thoughtfully silent, however, as we neared his home village he said, ‘I like the jokes in your religion, but I don’t think I would do the meditation.’ Sensing my disappointment, he went on, ‘But I would do Great Aunt Meditation’. ‘Well, what would that be?’ I asked doubtfully. ‘Great Aunt Meditation is chicken meditation. My great Aunt spends all afternoon in front of her fire. For hour after hour there she is in her chair, looking like she is asleep. But she knows where very chicken is and which way the wind is blowing and what loaf of rye bread the pantry mouse is munching.’ When we meditate we let the world be as it is; we let our heart just be. Then what is there can be, as W.A. Mathieu describes sounds as nourishment, holy food, and best friend. The plane roars through opening up your heart; you hum that old love song as you move from paying bills, to shopping to writing a difficult letter and the humming confirms it.

There is an old Taoist saying, ‘The hen can hatch her eggs because her heart is always listening.’ When we listen to hear another’s pain in their critical words, when we listen to our own pain when we are criticized, the depth of and warmth of our attending opens up the way for life to appear.

Later, in Lengow, I met Michal’s Great Aunt. She was frail, almost totally blind. Michal talked family with her in Slovak. She responded in rivers of Ruthenian. I listened in English. She plied me with Polish vodka. If you can’t understand at least you can drink! Michal asked me to explain Zen to her. I said, ‘Ask her if the birds are singing in her heart!’ Maybe he did, but she just poured me another vodka. As she laboured to get another log on the fire, Michal told me that it took her an-hour-and- a- half to get to church. ‘How far is the church?’ I asked for the village was tiny. ‘Oh about a hundred metres’, he said. ‘Is that because she is blind, because she can barely walk?’ ‘Yes. But mostly because she keeps stopping to enjoy what she can make out of the shadow and light. She picks up rocks and pebbles so she can feel them, talks to the dogs and cats, and to anyone she meet. It’s a long journey.


Ross Bolleter


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“On a more somber note, Raphaele once told me of a meeting she’d had on her first visit to Tibet, in 1986, with a man who’d had an appalling time during the Chinese invasion. “He invited me to sit down on a bench and served me some tea he kept in a large thermos. It was his first time talking to a Westerner. We laughed a lot; he was really adorable. Children kept coming by to stare at us in astonishment, and he showered me with questions. Then he told me how he’d been jailed for twelve years by the Chinese invaders and condemned to cut stone for a dam being built in the Drak Yerpa valley. The dam was completely useless, since the riverbed was almost always dry! All his friends dropped dead of hunger and exhaustion around him, one by one. Despite the horror of his story, there wasn’t the slightest trace of hatred in his words or the least bit of resentment in his eyes, which beamed with kindness. As I fell asleep that night, I wondered how a man who had suffered so much could seem so happy.”

“Anyone who enjoys inner peace is no more broken by failure than he is inflated by success. He is able to fully live his experiences in the context of a vast and profound serenity, since he understands that experiences are ephemeral and that it is useless to cling to them. There will be no “hard fall” when things turn bad and he is confronted with adversity. He does not sink into depression, since his happiness rests on a solid foundation. One year before her death at Auschwitz, the remarkable Etty Hillesum, a young Dutchwoman, affirmed: “When you have an interior life, it certainly doesn’t matter what side of the prison you’re on. . . . I’ve already died a thousand times in a thousand concentration camps. I know everything. There is no new information to trouble me. One way or another, I already know everything, and yet, I find this life beautiful and rich in meaning. At every moment.”

Matthieau Richard

From Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skills,

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one day the heart was heavy. . . . the chambers constricted. . . .beating like
a swan running on tangled sod. . . . concerned about some unborn thing. . .
. a constriction of the knotted heart with no thoughts of flight. . . the noise of the mind
entangled and blocked by weeds. . . . till there was no room to move . . . i fluttered
without gracefulness to the center of the lake, which humans call silence. . . . then. . . .
peace  found  in the underside of tired wings that rested on the lake. . . . while the heart
in it’s feathers pounded softer and softer. . . . and i surrendered into the One that is
always present and able to bear the totality of all heaviness and all heaven. . . . .
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Fear not what is not real, never was and never will be . What is real, always was and cannot be destroyed. Bhagavad Gita.

in the process. . . ” This then is the human problem, there is a price to be paid for every increase in consciousness. We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain.”
Alan Watts

Look within

There is no difference

between yourself, Self, and Guru

You are always Free,

There is no teacher,

there is no student,

there is no teaching.

Papaji

As the rivers flowing East and West merge in the sea, become one with it. Forgetting they were ever separate rivers. So do all creatures lose their separateness when they merge at last into pure Being.

Chandogyo Upanishad

When you don’t require anything from the world and nothing from God. When you don’t desire anything, when you don’t strive for anything, don’t expect anything, the divine will enter you, unasked and unexpected

.Nisargadatta.

Separate yourself of all “twoness”. Be one in one, one on one, one with one.

Meister Eckhart

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Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater
and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Erhmann

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