Sunday, January 20, 2013

Nothing to Worry About

“Jesus said…Split a piece of wood. I am there. Lift up the stone and you will find me there.”—from logion 77 of the Gospel of Thomas1

There’s a tradition in Buddhism as it’s practiced in North America called the circle talk.  It’s a ceremony of closure at the end of a meditation retreat, at least in the Zen and Vipassana traditions in which I’ve practiced. For those unfamiliar with them, retreats  generally consist of multiple days spent sitting motionless on a meditation cushion mentally following one’s breath or concentrating on some confounding question like, “What is my face before my parents were born?” This punctuated only by short periods of walking, meals, work, and sleep  during which an attempt is made to maintain the same quality of attention.   The circle talk occurs at the end of the final period of “sitting” on the last day.  Meditation cushions are drawn around into a circular formation, everyone takes a seat, and, going around the circle one by one, each retreatant is given a chance to say a few words. Because the idea of verbalizing the experience feels counterintuitive to me, and I’d usually prefer to say nothing at all, I’m amazed at the volume of words that gush forth from my co-retreatants. I take the impulse to “share the experience” in this way to be a particularly American phenomenon.  I suspect they don’t do circle talks in Asia. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Poem: Revelation

Here’s the secret: 
To learn gratitude for those moments 
When, by Grace (which is the only way it happens), 
We perceive the elements of our ignorance.
Because without that gratitude 
We can be convinced that one single moment of insight 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

In Memoriam: Brian Boland

It was my great good fortune to be befriended by Brian Boland in my early days working for Shambhala Publications. My strongest impression of him from those days--and this is something that never changed in the almost twenty-five years I knew him--was his infectious excitement over the people and things he found to be wise, beautiful, or real.  I can't count the number of times he told me, “You have to see this,” anxiously calling me over to his office or his apartment to introduce me

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Poem: Apophasis

I greet the day, I sip my tea, 
Though apophasis hovers ‘round
The warming rays, the slurping sound.
And also doesn’t hover much
Not-not-hovering and such.
I savor now the sweet infusion
Making friends with my confusion.