Sunday, May 31, 2009


Finally back at the computer after days of running back and forth across Texas.

Peter, Tallis, Uku, Harry, Jordan, Barry, Jeremy, and "Just Zazen", thanks all for the well wishes.

There appears to be no "getting back to normal" after this event, just getting on.

I find in this odd aftermath of settling estates and planning funerals that I am wondering if I was kind enough to the guy while he lived, and seeing that the bell tolls for me too, I don't have a lot to say right now.

It seems so clear that when it's over, it's over, as simple as turning off a light when you leave the room.

Our existence props up so much; property ownership, pensions, credit cards, keys, bank accounts, tools, trailers, trash, friends, family, clothes, shoes, books, frying pans... and when we die, it's like the key post in a house being pulled out. The house heaves, sighs and collapses. The people left behind dig through the rubble, organize the remains, construct a final story, and move on.

Lasting influence? Maybe. But not "directed" influence, of course. We go. How other people remember us, interpret us does remain... but it is not 'us.' It is not the unique consciousness you sense about yourself.

There is no greatness or smallness.

Drops fall from the sky and land in the ocean.

It is all rain.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


My father in law passed away. I saw him struggling with ill health in a recovery hospital bed a week ago, dealing with DNR's and interpreting curative from palliative procedures. I saw 'him' in the hospice hospital on Friday, heaving for breath, essentially unconscious. And then Saturday, a well assembled collection of organic molecules was stone still in the hospice bed, with no spark of life. No one was gone, no one was here. The ice has melted and fallen back into the stream. Now begins a long process of legal and customeray affairs that is definitely certain there was someone unique there. But that was you and that was me. We arise, pop out a vagina, and muck about until we're tossed in the ground to feed the worms. What a comedy! Might as well just sit.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Pain of Silence

I was terrible to someone I should not have been terrible to. A relationship I value. I may have busted it pretty bad. Time will tell. Jordan suggested to me that if I learn from it, its not such a big mistake. So this is some of my learnin'. I gave a good hard look at what was going through my mind, and I think it all had to do with silence.

In sync with this discovery is that I find I am quite unnerved by the lack of comments to my last blog entry. I had posted a bunch of "honest" stuff that left me feeling quite exposed...and there were no comments. I took it all down, and felt like I was re-nigging on the "honest scrap" deal I had been given....and there were no comments. So I rewrote it a bit, more optimistically...and there were no comments. For anyone who may be reading this, I do not mean to cast any blame with this. I am actually a bit embarassed by this. It is simply a fact.

This blog is, of course, also a relationship. The comments I get generally fulfill my friendship needs in my life. I'm not sure this is a good thing anymore, but it certainly is true. So when the comments stopped, I started feeling unhinged.

So when there are relationships I need, and they go silent, I get a little crazy. Why? There are probably many explanations I and a therapist could find. We could probably lay out some of the cause-effect that went on early in my life. More importantly, though, I think I will have to fully embrace this "weakness" to fall into the truth completely. I need to unfold some of the erroneous logic that must be knitted in my character that equates how others respond to me as a basis for feeling worth and comfort.

If I think that people don't care for me any more (whether my thoughts reflect the true situation is immaterial) why does this hurt? What is this thing, this self-worth, that is so important for we humans? What does Zen have to say about the value of our existence? Am I really *needed* here?

Looking at some of the Buddhist commentary I have read, I guess the best there is to say is that I just am. There is no value nor lack of value in this fact. How can I address this need I have to be valued, to care so much about whether people communicate with me?

This is, no doubt, a basic human issue, and the cause of much duhka in the world. I hope it is not the work of several kalpas, but that I can drop through the bottom of the bucket on this in the next few years.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Carp Stone

[there never was anything here]
[was it a cat i saw]
A boulder blocks the way

I've tried blowing it up
pushing it to the side
digging under it to find its root
climbing over it to exceed its height
analyzing it to know its true nature
denying it is there to negate its impediment

It is still there
I can hear the bull bleating behind it

I'm waiting for a fish to swim by
and with a flick of its tail
it will be gone

"Here fishy fish"

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Real Hell or Real Life

It all keeps getting thicker.

Years ago my wife suffered but survived an odd disease known as Guillain-Barre (gee-on bar-ay) soon after our daughter was born. I was frustrating cause it presents as so many other possibilities (simple fatigue) in its early stages. It nearly killed her. The biggest scar it left was the scare that there can be bizzare diseases that seem like nothing, but doctors diagonose wrong. Once you learn this lesson, it's impossible to forget.

Now she has a torn TFCC (a complete cartilage structure in the hand), some torn knee cartilage and an only rotator cuff tear hurting. The knee and wrist really didn't come from obviously traumatic events. So is this just rotten luck, or some bizzare cartilidge-falling-apart disease? We don't know. We press on. She has been at 20% for the last 4 weeks, and now facing wrist surgery, will probably be at 20% for another 4 or more.

On top of that her father in Houston (150 miles away) has suffered renal failure from too much NSAIDs taken for gout cause by chronic alcoholism which was overcome 20 years ago. He also suffers from BPE (and COPD) which caused a raging urinary tract infection which spread to his blood.

The guy lives recently widowed in a trailer park, set in his ways and would have died, unchallenged, in bed last week if my wife hadn't called EMS remotely (who did not take him in) and forced her cousin (living in the same trailer park) to take him to the doctor who did admit him. Now he faces 20+ days in hospital for dialysis waiting to see if his kidneys kick back on... and if not, then what?

We saw him this weekend, and he is just out of the game. He doesn't complain about the hospital. He doesn't worry about his "stuff." He just sits in bed, with gout paining his knees, not really eating, waiting for the next dialysis.

I'm being stretched in ways I never have, these days. Covering much work at home. Striving to encourage my wife in her pain, and fathom the needs and wants of an aging, hurting man.

It is a whole shitload of dharma. Just-is-ness that I find difficult to face. I am angry and put out that life can't be the protected normalcy I had a month ago when I was sewing my rakusu and dreaming of precepts from Brad.

What would the patriarchs do in all this? Again I find myself angry that the famous ones all left "home and family" and escaped hells like this. How do I take a next step as I struggle with shame over my sarcastic tone to wife who has asked me for help for the nth time today?

This is the real crucible. When things get so tangled they are unrecognizable, and 5 minutes of no immediate trouble is like a vacation of 2 weeks. When you can see your own faults and pettiness and anger parading out of you like a 4th of July parade. No pretense of "holy". Buddha just please let me not be a beast in the next moment.

Jump in the raging stream
Fly past rocks and over waterfalls
Fearful of the trip and splash and swirl?
Unfamiliar scenery flashing by to quick?
Who are you?
Look inside
to the deep stillness
of the whole dharma.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Picking and Choosing

When I think of all troubles and hardship I have actively sought to spare my daughter from, and succeeded, and avenues and opportunities for expression I have provided her, and praise I have given her, I think I have done a fine job as a parent.

When I think of all the advantages and expanding experiences I haven't provided for my daughter, and all the occasions when I squashed or stifled her free expression, and the times I was overly critical, I think I have done a very poor job as a parent.

What am I, good or bad?

Monday, May 4, 2009

It's All Right There

[I find I have nothing to say.
Dharma is lurking out there.
Enjoy it.]