White Crow

May 18, 2012

I enjoy writing; the blank page, the images in my mind, the search for clarity and brevity and wit–the entire process as I wait to hear a true sentence arrive.

Hear, yes– and not read, because for me, beautiful as a completed page can be, writing starts with mental imagery which becomes a sound, and that sound then is formed word by word into a sentence.

After all, before writing there were stories and story tellers who relied only on memory and wit, not reading a script, and their telling led to listening and memorization becoming essential skillsets, so that even today the well-remembered stories for me are most often those I first heard, and which I now read aloud for my family and friends.

Here is an example

White Crow 120518 (A short story audio file, mp3)


May 14, 2012

Sometimes when sitting or walking, there is an awareness that thought has stopped, and when very alert I am able to calmly notice the absence of thought without being distracted into thinking about it. At such times I can  almost ‘see’ when a new thought is forming. It bubbles as it were into the inner vision from a deep dark area below and to the left , then takes weight as fragmented imagery, and then suddenly blooms into a full thought-word-image containing memory, presence, and charge.  At that point, I can let the thought pass, or let it provoke mind-chatter, and whichever happens it takes some time to return to the silence.
During a telephone chat with a dear friend,  a contemplative, I described that  experience and she said, ‘hmm,  sounds like sunyata.’ I considered that, and then asked some monks and swamis about it.  After getting more information I did not talk about it further with anyone, but dwelt on it, wondering if  the experience were of significance, or just mind-noise. 
After a long interval, my friend called again, and as that unusual space between thoughts was now a somewhat frequent occurrence I mentioned the details again. She was quiet a few seconds, and then said “Are you sure you’re not just sleeping?”

                       In an open sky

                           two birds sit on winter branches

                                                  Bell of silence reigns




Purportedly the Zen teacher Suzuki roshi was never heard to say he was enlightened, and when asked by a reporter about that, his wife replied to the questioner, ‘that’s because he isn’t!’

In my mind’s eye I can see the roshi rubbing his head and smiling. I can also see the wife not smiling.

Married guys might get that; wives more often see the warts and farts in the everyday husband, see more the buddy in him than any buddha. My own wife, who is quite frankly a saint, sometimes criticizes me for being arrogant or mean while at the same time I claim to be enlightened. (It does me no good whatsoever to point out I do not claim to be enlightened.) Pressed for specifics, I admit I do say I am awakening, and by that I mean just as I go to sleep every night, I awaken every morning. The raised eyebrow and grimace on her face tells me I need to clarify so I add, “Enlightened sounds like you were unenlightened and then pow one fine day suddenly and forever after you are enlightened, no more changes.”

To that assertion, my wife replies, “but that is exactly what enlightenment is! All the masters say so, and besides it doesn’t matter what you or I call it, you are not an illumined being so just come down off your high horse and take out the trash, now.”

I reply, `Yes, dear’

Later that day…

NPR is talking about Jamaican runners who train in their own country, using a discipline of relaxation to increase power and vitality. Does that work? The head coach in reply asks the interviewer, “Did you ever see a Jamaican runner suddenly come from the back and rush past all the front runners to win?”. The interviewer says ‘Yes,’ and the coach says “No, you saw no such thing–what you saw was the Jamaican maintaining his pace throughout, and the other runners losing power and falling back.”

I think awakening is sort of like that. Once awake, you learn to be steady and to proceed relaxed, moment by moment, day by day, thereby awakening a little more each day,  and continuing forward.

I tell this story of the Jamaican runners to my wife, who replies with that look and the words

“Yes, dear”