Friday, May 05, 2006


We talk about the same things over and over again until the terms are so saturated with meaning that they become meaningless. This is the conundrum of mainstream religion and the basis of dogma.

It stormed pretty hard most of last night but mostly the brunt of the storm was a little South of here. I got more lightening and thunder than rain. But, fortunately for the garden and pasture, it did rain a little. Around three o'clock this morning the system moved of to the Southeast pushed by a North wind and I was able to get a little sleep without worrying about hail, tornados, or both.

I love going out in the morning after a rain so I invented a reason to go to the store. Sort of needed a loaf of bread and some fruit. Could have made do, but I went anyway. I turned on my cell phone and there was a voice mail from one of my sisters saying she sent me the addresses I had requested for the son's wedding but they came back undeliverable. Bad email. I gave her the new address and we chatted for a few minutes about nothing in particular. I asked if her youngest girl was entertaining thoughts of marriage and she said not that she knew of. She said her life had a "calling" and that she was no doubt waiting on the right minister like person (read Christian fundamentalist) to come along. I thought sadly that there was a great divide, the "reach", between our lives that could never be bridged. No matter what.

Have you ever been near a hummingbird? I was standing under a tree the other day and this very loud humming sound caught my attention. It was quite sudden. I don't know what kind this one was. I have seen the ruby-throated hummingbird around here and its wings beat at about 70 cycles per second. Once I rescued one of these trapped in my shed. As it tried to escape through a window I was able to capture it in my hands and harmlessly release it outdoors. Yet again, on another occasion, I was sitting on the deck and one flew within three inches of my nose and hovered there for a couple of seconds. (And, no, my nose is not "florid" red.)

The flowers the humming birds go to bloom from a plant that rooted and grew over the course of a season. The flower rises on its stalk, blooms for a day or two, withers, and goes to seed. The flower and the bird enjoy mutual attraction. In fact, the flower habituates the bird into its cycles and acts as a sort of paradigm of developmental activity for the bird. The bird quickly learns the purpose of the flower and patterns its life accordingly. This is like the soul of man and God.

The non-local undifferentiated ultimate ground of being serves as a kind of repository of paradigms. These are channels or grooves that "limbs" of the developing individual life ensconced soul are drawn to by prayer or meditative practice. Once connected with a paradigm there is a kind of joining of intention. The soul begins to come into its own. Understanding leaves behind mere mind stuff, knowledge, thoughts. The clinging nature of material existence is abandoned. Struggle ends replaced by liberty, meaning, purpose, and joy.

My beloved mentor used to say "I feel so clean". Now I begin to understand.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Bicycle Ride

"A violet by a mossy stone
half hidden from the eye
fair as a star
when only one is in the sky."
Robert Lewis Stevenson

I woke up at 0539 this morning and couldn't go back to sleep. I used to get up even earlier than this but not these days. If I can go back to sleep I am a lot more refreshed. It seems my best sleep is between six and eight. I usually stay up till eleven or so watching the tonight show(Ugh!, I don’t know why I punish myself with this) so its not as if I was getting too much sleep.

So after my morning prayer and small offering there was the coffee break and checking the news and email on the net. I got an email from one of my sister's. I had asked for some addresses of her children so my son and his fiancé could send them wedding invitations. She didn't send the addresses but asked when the wedding was going to be.

Around nine I did my pullups, pushups, stretches, setups, and so forth prepatory to the ride. The day was and remains rather mild. It might make 90 this afternoon but this morning it was around 75 or so with low clouds and a gentle wind out of the southeast. So I packed up my stuff and set out.

I carry sunglasses, wear a hat with a handkerchief underneath it to catch the sweat. I always wear gloves and take a cell phone and pocket knife and pepper spray to keep the dogs at bay if I encounter any I can't outrun. Of course I have to have the electric gate opener and I carry my drivers license just in case. It takes so long to get ready. I wish life could be simpler. I do this three times a week, Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday. The ride is a measured course of 13.5 miles. Not far, I know, but enough for me. I run into other cyclists fairly often. One told me his ride was 26 miles.

My bicycle is a found object. When I was in college I was living with who would become my second wife in a garage apartment. In the garage I found this old ten speed. It had a leather seat and was missing the derailer but I snagged it and eventually put it in service. During the years I was a runner it got very little use but eventually I gave up running in favor of bicycling for my main source of exercise. In the last year I replaced the handlebars. The old one was broken and mended with one of my really sloppy welding jobs. I put a dirt bike handlebar on it in place of the original racing style. After that I replaced the seat and then the cables for the gears. When I put it in service I had to buy a derailer and fix the gears but the cables I used then were to short so the shifter was almost under the seat and when I would peddle sometimes the inside of my leg would rub against it. I also added some grips and when a rear wheel spoke broke and couldn't be relaced I had to get a new rear wheel too. I am sure I have less than $75 in this bike. I have seen bikes for upwards of a thousand dollars. I just can’t get my head around that, at least not right now. I am sure it speaks volumes about our culture, society, and the individuals who buy them.

I don't know the make of the bike. The maker's mark is illegible having been scraped away once upon a time when someone refinished the bike. I think it was originally metallic gold but now it is a drab indescript brown with a little rust here and there. But I keep it well oiled and she operates smoothly enough. In the last year at 13.5 miles per ride that's 40.5 per week so in a year that comes to 2106 miles. When I ride I often think that I am really living up to the old adage that one should "use it up, wear it out, make it do". All the other cyclists I see are pretty much as "yuppiefied" as one can get and some look at me with either curiosity or disdain or derision or a combination. Some are friendly though. One guy I see most frequently always passes with a nice "hello, how are you today?". And they all pass me. Their bikes are a lot lighter than mine and they are all younger than me too. Besides I try to do my miles in tenth gear, uphill and down, just to make it more difficult. Sometimes, in fact most often, the wind is blowing too. It commonly is at least 15 or 20 MPH. Thirty miles per hour is not uncommon. That makes for a much more difficult ride. Uphill into a 30 MPH wind is hard work.

So I make it through the woods, up my driveway, over the hill and through the gate onto the county road. This takes me up another small hill where there is currently a dead skunk. Phew! I hold my breath and close my mouth as I go by the body. I doesn't smell as bad as when it was a fresh kill and I can see that in another week or so there will hardly be anything left what with the sun drying it out and the occasional vehicle again running over it. I confess a thought occurred to me to put it in an obnoxious neighbor’s mailbox. But no, I would never do that. This neighbor used to leave bottles at my driveway entrance hoping, I guess, that I would run over one and ruin a tire. But that was years ago now.

A little farther down this road I turn right. Today is the first time I have ridden on the roads' new surface and the loose gravel makes for a much less smooth passage. There is about a mile of this before I am onto another leg of the journey where the surface is smooth and I go along in almost complete silence except for the wind and my breathing and the sound of birds, now and then a dog barking or a bellowing cow. The great Dane I used to fear came out today and barked but only half heartedly. He and his crew used to chase me. I tried to make friends but he would have nothing to do with it, though the Labrador and Dalmatian that ran with him became friendly. Once I had to use the spray on him but mostly the wind blew it away. He keeps his distance now for which I am grateful. He is huge and I noted with interest in the news yesterday an animal control officer took a bite in the face from a great Dane she was trying to befriend with some snacks. Anyhow he left me pretty much alone today and I did him the same kindness continuing on my ride.

I passed by some wheat fields that were ruined by a recent hail storm and noted with interest that the corn and maize crops nearby have come back after being so severely pummeled that I thought the farmer would need to replant. The heads of the wheat are on the ground and can never stand up again so the harvesting machine would only get straw. The corn and maize, which were maybe a foot high when the storm struck, put out new growth from their roots and in another week or so one will be hard pressed to tell they were ever damaged.

Two farmers, no, three, were tilling their land to keep the weeds from growing up between the rows. I think I saw two people today besides these farmers. One was in an older Chrysler. I saw him twice, going and coming. The other was in a pickup. I see this pickup all the time but don't know where it "lives".

When the pickup passed I looked right at him to make eye contact, and waved as usual. Well, I should have been wearing my sunglasses because contact is what I got. A tiny piece of grit flew up from the vehicle’s passing and flew right into my left eye. The eye teared up and this eventually took care of the problem. Of course, I didn't rub my eye. But I sure wanted to. After about two miles it was much better though I could still feel "something" there. When I got home I washed it out with a garden hose and now it is almost like it never happened. I need to remember to look down immediately on the passing of vehicles if I am not wearing my sunglasses.

Well I guess I have gone on long enough with this post. If you are looking for meaning and purpose and great truths they are here but the accretions of mundane living shield them from the discerning spirit. I remember reading of a seeker, in China, he lived in a cave, and one day he was sweeping the dirt in front of his cave, just doing a little but necessary chore, you see, and suddenly it hit him, right between the eyes, so to speak. He "achieved" enlightenment on the spot. No doubt he was contemplating in the act of this mundane chore and no doubt he had been involved as a seeker of ultimate reality for most of his life, attending schools, finding teachers, comparing different approaches, experimenting with differing methods. So, if you come prepared, and pay the strictest attention, there is ultimate truth on hand everywhere, in the smallest things. I like that line from Robert Lewis Stevenson, used to rejoice in my heart of hearts when I would read it to my son:

A violet by a mossy stone
half hidden from the eye
fair as a star
when only one is in the sky.

Life is so simple. It is not necessary to look beyond the immediate for release from the perceived turmoil and trouble and pain of existence. You can spend your entire life looking for the answer. There are countless teachers, ministers, so called authorities on spiritual culture. All of their words are so much chaff to be blown away by the wind when the truly discerning mind finally penetrates the veil of tears, let’s down its guard and in a supreme act of vulnerability accepts the cosmos in its entirety. And the resonance from that confluence ripples across the stars enriching the heavens with another “fait a compli”.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Scatter Mind Chatter

About thirty minutes before sunset I went for a walk down the driveway. I had just created this blog and had been on the computer for an hour or so and needed a break. The driveway is almost a mile long. It goes through a wooded area and then breaks into a native pasture and runs up a gentle slope, tops a small hill, and continues on to the gate and the county road. It is a private place and few are the times that I see any people, except for the occasional passing car on the road and less frequently a bicyclist or someone out for a walk.

As I walked away from the house I mentally noted that I didn't have my gun. A few weeks ago I resolved to always carry a pistol or something since I have come way to close to stepping on some of the rattle snakes that share this place with me. They don't always, in fact they seldom, rattle or even coil. They just lie real still hoping that they will be overlooked. That is fine. I would love to overlook them but that would be very hard to do if I stepped on one. They are very difficult to see. Your eyes can easily pass over them. Basically you only see them if you focus on them.

I am walking down the drive. Many thoughts pass through my mind. I mainly scan the ground and look around at the sky, which is partly cloudy, and enjoy the movement of the south wind as it cools my skin and bends the grasses to its movement. Many birds come and go too, with the thoughts.

One thought is that it is possible to walk without intention. This is a meditative practice that takes years to perfect. I have not done this but I know it involves careful watching of the minute detail of the walking to the exclusion of all else.

Another thought comes to mind concerning the meaning of words. It occurs to me that every word mimics the creation of the universe. There is intention, then rising from that a vibration that is molded and shaped into a tangible thing that broadcasts meaning and purpose and completion.

I do not know what it is to walk without intention though I am sure it is more than just doing it as an automatic action, like breathing. Isn't intention subtly present even in breathing?

I stood on the hilltop and while the sun went down noted how far it has traveled since the winter solstice. At the spot where I stand, at the winter solstice, the sun sets "in" the chimney of a neighbors house I can see about a mile across the way. Now, just a month and a half from the summer solstice the sun is well on its way to the point of return up the horizon to a large clump of oaks which will see it again head south.

I walked back to the house and posted this entry. We will see what is next.