Sunday, February 28, 2010


I had some spare time so I went to doddle through my (current) favorite Zen sites. There's a holy war raging over at Brad's (Hardcore Zen). I find that makes me really nervous and sends me back thousands of years to my childhood (how often does *that* happen?). I was either cowering or a peacemaker in a rather messed up family unit.

I would like the Zen community not to be that way. That is, so argumentative. That's naive, I know. People are argumentative. None the less, the feeling I have is that I don't like it. If limited to the five basic feelings, I'd say its anger and fear. Someone has told me anger is always proceeded by fear, so I guess I've got to bottom out on fear. Fear of what? Maybe that the fundamental issue I thought we Zennist are pursuing is really a crock. Not strong enough to overcome, or convince practitioners to "let it go" when it gets going like its going at Brad's.

What a large tangle of poop it is (that's going on at Brad's). So to interceed, 'cause I am the peacemaker, I don the personna of Thing 1 and Thing 2, trying to pour a few lines of humor and introspection into the fight to calm it a bit. Such vanity! And then pain when no one seems to notice. I've been acting out my old role with certainty, and to the same result. What a silly goose.

The value of my attachment to the role of peacemaker, trying to make the "adults" stop fighting, is questionable, but I enjoy the impish response it brought. Here for fun, and posterity, are the musings of my alter egos Thing 1 and Thing 2, with some commentary unless you can't just tell how clever this stuff is.

Dead roadside Buddha.
Fleshy bones lay in the dust.
Watch hungry dogs fight.
Allusion to "if you find the Buddha on the road, kill him"

Allusion to the book "Zen Flesh Zen Bones" which itself comes from Bodhidharma's famous transmission to his student's, one of which cut off his arm.

"hungry dogs fight" is the thin tip of a wedge of allusion to a much vaster meaning. In Kruosawa's "Jojimbo" we see the movie start with a dog trotting by through clouds of dust with a hand in his mouth. The whole tone of one clan fighting another is captured in this, along with the role of Mifune's peacemaker (okay, body-count machine, really). And, of course, the link back to "flesh".

Furious minds spin
Webs of detailed argument
A fat horse's fart
Not much "hidden" in this one.

A bit of a nod to "O, what a tangled web we weave..."

The last line is a nod to Basho (or is it Basui?) who likes to refer us back to the natural and immediate, its-all-good, Buddha-is-a-shit-stick, aspect of Zen.

"A rap on the nose can be, quite continental,
'cause dharma is a girl's best friend
A zafu is grand but it won't pay the rental
On your humble flat, or help you at the automat
the spark grows cold as we all grow old
And we all lose our lives in the end
But square cut or pear shaped
This bright pearl won't lose it's shape
Dharma is a girl's best friend"
Theft, of course, from the *old* song "Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend." It links into part of the allegations flying around over at Brad's blog regarding someone who was, allegedly, struck on the nose. In light of the history of striking in Zen, it seems trivial to fret so much over it. There are koans ending "Answer 'Yes' and I will hit you 30 times. Answer 'No' and I will hit you 30 times. Do not answer and I will hit you 30 times." But the offense of striking is clearly context driven.

Yes "square cut or pear shaped" doesn't quite fit into the gemology of pearls but it was close enough.

"One Bright Pearl" was one of the first topics I engaged in on a blog (Harry's, I think) and it has been one of my favorite ever since. How can these guys spend soooo much time fighting in the middle of "One Bright Pearl" (also, of course, a chapter in Shobogenzo)?.

To post, or not to post--that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous comments
Or to take arms against a sea of bloggers
And by opposing end them. To lie, and sleep--
No more--and by a sleep to say we stop
The broadband, or the thousand natural shocks
That Dish(tm) is heir to. 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To wake, read, and weep--
To weep--perchance to scream: ay, here's the rub,
For in that screen's refresh what posts may come
When we have shuffled off this ego's spoil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calm threading so short of life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely
The pangs of despised thoughts, the law's inlay,
The insolence of anonomi, and the spurns
That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
When he himself might his on inputs make
Like a bare boobkin? Who would their souls lay bare,
To grunt and sweat in a weary online fight,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles us all,
And makes us rather spread those ills we have
Than to sit in silence that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make bloggers of us all,
And thus the native hue of one bright pearl
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And a turning step of great pitch and moment
With this regard its reflections turn awry
And lose the name of real action.
If you don't recognize Hamlet's famous soliloquy in this, please go back to school.

"Dish" might not work for international audiences as it refers to "Dish Network", a wireless internet provider, in the 'States.

"What posts may come" was probably my favorite bit. I often find myself returning the next day to a blog to see if anyone reacted to me, me, me! I am often disappointed that post did, indeed, *not* come.

"Weep, perchance to scream" was also a lot of fun.

"shuffled of this ego's spoil" --- blogging, at least for me, is so much about showing off. Yet I still do it.

Not much change from the original in the list of things we bear (i.e. the oppressor's wrong), Shakespeare really did have a good bead on the human condition. "The insolence of office" was not quite right, and I enjoy my change to anonomi, which I hope is the plural of anonymous posters. The "laws inlay" is probably semantically and grammatically flawed. In the arguing there was a lot on who wouldn't say what because of the threat of law suits, so "law", was "laid into" (thus "inlay") the conversation.

"on inputs" should have been "own inputs"...pooh.

I hope "boobkin" is an existing word. If not, it should be.

"Sit in silence we know not of" is a nod to Seung's "only Don't know" (thanks, again, Barry).

"Thus conscious does make bloggers of us all" -- I often wonder that a *real* good Buddhist would be too busy pursuing real action to be bothered with blogging. It is certainly the pursuit of our empty concepts of thought.

For the third and second to last lines, I was trying to work in the bit from Shobogenzo about a turning and reflecting step, or something like that, but I couldn't find the exact reference quick enough through Google, so I may have gotten the allusion a bit wrong.

"Real action"... it feels like a basketball game and Shakespeare gave me the perfect set up for that one. It is, of course, a common phrase from Gudo Nishijima's writing (and of course, many others, I guess), but I carry it from his use in "To Meet the Real Dragon". As the last line I hoped it would get the attention of all those engaging in the argument, all heirs of Gudo's teachings, but my self-centered wish was not fulfilled.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wet Dog

A wet and whiny stray dog.
Some days clean and bright, other days a mess.
Soggy, I may snap.
Or I may defend you.
Pat my head, I am your friend.
I sleep on your porch and sometimes run away when you approach.
I'm glad you are there.
I fear you see me only as ugly-dog, unkempt, crude.
I sniff an old bag of chips outside the temple wall,
And sit, in dog zazen, to listen to the chanting, 'till a flea bites, and I am scratching-scratching.
Watch my shiny eyes as they follow a falling cherry blosom.
Even I have buddha-nature.