Motoring to The Other Shore

ride 2 other shore~ d nelson

Dreaming of reaching the other shore
of Freedom & Enlightenment.
Once safely there, fulfilling the last letting go
of the supportive vessel which gets me there.

ride 2 other shore 3 ~d nelson

Being a dream, I fancied a vehicle,
a bit different from a hand-made raft (which itself is a metaphor for wisdom teachings & practice),
but rather like the one my uncle restored
in 1972 while listening to Beach Boys 45’s,
long ago when I was a kid.

ride 2 other shore 2

Confident that I’ll release this transport,
along with all desires & notions
once on the other shore,
I’m indulging now in a little model
fantasy of color, horsepower & chrome.

ride 2 other shore 5

Sweet, this dream of venturing on highways
inward to find that peaceful, distant peaceful shore.
Perhaps, with mind calm, this vehicle cleverly
decelerates slow enough to out-maneuver
fire’s smoke many of us are breathing,
and skillfully bring peace, understanding where there’s
injustice, hunger, anger & divisiveness, discrimination, misperceptions,
& sad circuses; going on in places high & low,
near, far & all around right where we’re cruisin’.

ride 2 other shore 7

“In the same way, monks, I have taught the Dharma compared to a raft, for the purpose of crossing over, not for the purpose of holding onto. Understanding the Dharma as taught compared to a raft, you should let go even of Dharmas, to say nothing of non-Dharmas.” ~Buddha, Water-Snake Simile (simile of the raft), Alagaddūpama Sutta

 

Advertisements

Calmly Camped ‘tween Falls & Firestorm

Burney Falls flowing chill~d nelson

Heading north, out on a joyful camping holiday
picturing grandparents motoring west,
seeking refuge & religious freedom
from repression, they experienced back east.

campin’ 1950 ford custom woody ~all images by d nelson

Ahh, to encounter Volcanic Legacy Byway’s
free-flowing, free-falling waters
high in rugged, forested northern California
between tranquil Shasta & Lassen volcanoes.
Experiencing freedom ancestors sought.

Lassen falls heat relief

After wonderfully blissful, but hot forest days
being cooled by lakes, rivers & spray
the sky became increasingly smoky.
Breathing in awareness of unhealthy
air pollution particulates drying throat & eyes.
May those close to the smoke’s source be safe.

the smoked-red sun reflects on upper Sacramento river

Feeling relaxed, though concerned, headed home,
with hours of dark, smoke-blanketed driving conditions.
Heard that deadly Carr fire consumed 130,000 acres, including neighborhoods;
a devastating 143 mph fire tornado, west of our camping locations.
Arriving home to find bomber planes, helicopters,
& an army of firefighters battling blazes on the edge of our town.
Today’s local report: Hot, dry, windy conditions fuel Mendocino complex fire which has scorched 240 square miles (621 square kilometers), destroyed 41 residences and threatened 9,200 homes, only 30% contained.

smoke swirls eastern Cow mtn

Moments of transition are most powerful times for
practicing being aware of whats going on.
Moments where we may not always be paying attention.
Moments where we lose our peace & happiness.
The moments between sitting, standing & walking.
The moment between an in breath & out breath.
For me, walking meditation has been a most valuable practice
to cultivate awareness of in-between times.
I believe this helped me maintain freedom & equanimity
transitioning between nature’s paradise & catastrophe.

feel flow’s spray

Dear friend, we all can arrive at our destination with every step, every breath.
Enjoying the contact of our feet on earth.
Experiencing that we have time, we have enough space.
Being present for the beautiful sunset, the blossoms, or even disasters, along our path.
Living life deeply and wonderfully. Taking steps, being completely ourselves,
with no place to go, nothing to do, no longer in a hurry.
Honoring ancestors dream of touching true peace & freedom,
by arriving home, in the wonderful present moment.

“While you are walking, smile and be in the here and now, and you will transform that place into paradise.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Being Humble

(originally posted Sept 27, 2012)

done fishing today

done fishing today, Lesbos, Greece inner sea ~ D. Nelson

Last week after some quality time cultivating my garden of mindfulness at Deer Park, I packed up the camping gear and slowly drove out of the hidden mountain valley. Neil Diamond’s glorious Jonathan Livingston Seagull soundtrack CD was playing, as I rolled slowly across bouldered hills into the fog of Escondido. Still on my mind’s consciousness was young brother’s talk, which included reference to the ancient Chuang Tzu story of an empty boat. Chuang Tzu was a Taoist sage, living sometime before 250 B.C.

“If a man is crossing a river and an empty boat collides with his own skiff, even though he be a bad-tempered man he will not become very angry. But if he sees a man in the boat, he will shout at him to steer clear. If the shout is not heard, he will shout again, and yet again, and begin cursing. And all because there is somebody in the boat. Yet if the boat were empty, he would not be shouting, and not angry.

If you can empty your own boat crossing the river of the world, no one will oppose you, no one will seek to harm you….

Who can free himself from achievement, and from fame, descend and be lost amid the masses of men?

He will flow like Tao, unseen, he will go about like Life itself with no name and no home.

Simple is he, without distinction. To all appearances he is a fool.

His steps leave no trace. He has no power. He achieves nothing, has no reputation.

Since he judges no one, no one judges him.

Such is the perfect man:

His boat is empty. “

(20:2, 4, pp. 168-171) Chuang Tzu. The Way of Chuang Tzu. Translator/Editor Thomas Merton. New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1965.

watery clear lake divide

Embracing that thought of the empty boat as a koan I began the drive home with clear, blue southern California skies and end of summer heat. Recalling the front tire blowout (mentioned on my “finding the key” post) on the way down I was planning on taking it easy driving the interstate back. As I first met cars an intentional remembering that these cars are empty. Empty of anger, ill will, and ultimately, empty of having a separate existence. We are flowing on this river of time and space together. Cooperating like the cells of my body, and not competing. Even though my quickly judging mind might think, “hey, these people are in a hurry, seem impatient and my slow mindful driving is not making them any happier”, I adjusted best I could to support harmony on the road out of Escondido. Breathing and smiling holding the wheel of my empty boat. Fortunately the early morning traffic was light and spacious. No tailgater, no tailgatee.

 

full of everything ~d nelson

On the way down it seemed, in my memory, that the air was mostly clear. So as I approached the high San Gabriel mountains which were obscured by smog I sighed to the air that could be seen. Over the grapevine my empty boat journeyed through the San Joaquin Valley farmland with fruit and nut trees next to the roadway and an occasional fruit stand with fresh produce. Sometimes the freeway went across the California aqueduct, a canal which brings water from the north into the valley and southern California bringing it life, keeping it from returning back to its natural state of being a desert.

 

Empty boats of different colors, dancing up the interstate at the speed that is not too fast, not too slow, but just right for them. Well sometimes the big truck passes the other big truck and goes kind of slow, relative to the vehicles that were doing 90 until forced to go 60 while the big boat was in the fast lane. But knowing that it’s an empty boat I felt happy. Seeing truckloads of bright, red tomatoes make me happy. Seeing an occasional bunch of tomatoes that bumped off and smashed on the freeway made me happy. Cruise control made my leg happy. When the afternoon heat kicked in the a/c made me happy. Missing the large pieces of rubber tire retread across the highway made me happy, also. I was mindful to help my empty boat not hit anything, this time.

water contact ~d nelson

May all beings be happy and safe, be aware of obstacles and arrive alive. After awhile I notice a vehicle on the side of the road with a flat tire. Having been in that situation a couple of weeks earlier I had understanding and compassion. So I pulled over and offered to help. She seemed nervous at my presence and told me that triple A was called and already on the way. Wishing her well I smiled and got back into the boat. After several more hours, getting close to the Bay Area, I spotted smoke and soon approached a fire engine on the opposite side of the road. It was just finishing putting out the fire on a completely burnt out shell of a car. Couldn’t even tell what kind of car it used to be. No evidence of the occupants but I was sending metta that they are free from injury. The traffic was backed up a couple of miles slowly passing that scene. Instant reminder of how fragile we are. How quickly life goes by. After taking my time driving it was wonderful to regain my land legs and do some walking meditation through my neighborhood. Perhaps a step closer to realizing the empty boat inside myself. Although it will take many more rivers, that’s ok. One breath in awareness at a time, still a happy and imperfect man.

Talks from that retreat, as well as many others, available as a podcasts at: http://deerpark.libsyn.com/iamhome/2012

Post in memory of Phap De (young brother, 1935-2016)

Reflective Non-Reactivity

“It’s a little embarrassing that after 45 years of research & study, the best advice I can give people is to be a little kinder to each other.”
~ Aldous Huxley

 

reflecting on past, present & future ~d nelson

Rear view mirror reflects the fast approaching:
parents, teachers, & those
who came before:

whether they behaved with civility,
protected the environment,
and/or cared for all others;

sitting with parents & roots

or alternately, those who
acted without civility
seemingly more concerned for grasping
power, wealth, fame & sensual pleasure
than helping others or the planet.

 

no outrunning past or future ~d nelson

 

Having reflected on the interconnected nature
of all things, across time & space,
may I continue having a sense of balance,
of equanimity; to remaining calm,
& non-reactive, best I can.
Offering peaceful responses
to changing road conditions.
Quickly avoiding road-rage
or getting run over, if/when necessary.

test driving non-reactive, non-getaway cars

May I have the gratitude & patience necessary,
practicing mindful breaths, concentration & insight
before speaking and reacting.
Remembering, as MLK pointed out,
that the arc of history
bends toward justice, and that road is LONG.
May we all aspire traveling towards
the more beautiful continuations into our future.

 

Happiness means feeling you are on the right path every moment. You don’t need to arrive at the end of the path in order to be happy.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Swept Safely

(originally posted Feb 2, 2013)

broken bottle in bike lane

broken bottle in bike lane

This peaceful moment of typing has been preceded by strong angry thoughts and feelings, oh my! After many seconds of stopping to breathe mindfully I’m feeling solid in the present. Breathe, let go of today’s “close call” with danger. I’m remembering a Thich Nhat Hanh designed watch that has the word “now” replacing numbers on the old-school dial. The time is now. A quarter to now, or half past now, is still now. In all my “nows”, I want to feel safe and happy venturing through daily activities among fellow citizens, especially on local roadways. Could anyone truly want to feel differently? I am a most special and precious being; no more and no less than everyone else. Clearly, all have this desire for safety and happiness at their core.

old bike hanging

bike hanging in the Amsterdam museum ~d nelson

Cycling for some exercise earlier, on a most beautiful, blue and warm gift of a winter day, I met a freshly broken beer bottle in the bike lane. Yesterday this slightly downhill route was clear. Instantaneously my relaxed calm breath turned shallow and hard as I quickly swerved to avoid large and small glass shards. Fortunately the Gatorskin tires offered excellent flat protection as glass pieces extended 30 or more feet along the bike lane. Steering, as I did, out into traffic was quite dangerous, and my good fortune that no cars were zooming by at that moment. So who would intentionally produce actions that threaten the safety of others, my mind quickly wondered? Children, parents, commuters could easily have a flat on the spot or shortly afterwards when the glass works its way in. After some calm breaths I realized that someone likely has hurt feelings or thoughts to produce an action that could injure others. This drop of compassion inside helped me send a wish that the suffering that cause people to hurt others be understood, comforted, held and healed, with kindness, in time. I also recognized my uncertainty on how that broken beer bottle really ended up in the bike lane. Perhaps, instead of intentionally thrown, it just bounced out of the back of a pickup. I don’t know how it got there, just that it was there.

bike lane bottle swept

bike lane bottle swept

Looking deeply I see connections between us and our parents, ancestors, the clouds, sun, earth. Strands woven into the web of life. When one suffers, we all suffer. We can all benefit from acts of kindness. Walking down the street with a smile is infectious, has been my experience. Walking with a scowl can generate fear. If there are hazards in the street near our home, such as glass, we can easily clean, thus create safety and happiness. Pedaling home to fetch a broom and dustpan, then returning to sweep up the glass and a nail I felt a positive action has changed a negative action’s karma. I’m grateful that my dogma did not hit your karma. May you feel happy and safe on and off the roadway; cars, bikes pedestrians, & all critters.

joyfully towards the trail ~d nelson

Happiness is…We’re Home!

dwelling happily in the present moment ~ d. nelson

Abiding happily
here, now
with
nowhere to go,
nothing to do,
no longer
in a hurry. (click this link for sweet song)
Hay, let’s smell that beautiful flower!

blooming in dry conditions

May gratitude
for sweet moments
of this precious, short life
linger
until us cows
come home.

i am here for you

Contentedly we cows
chew, chew, chew
getting the most
of mother earth’s nutritious gift,
before stepping out peacefully,
graciously on our earth.

our hillside

A lesson offered
by meek, modest beings
who wish to be safe,
& free from harm
while moooooving slowly,
already home in the present moment.
Happiness dwells following
their slow, non-harming way.

Humankind’s survival depends on our ability to stop rushing.  “Stopping” is not only to stop the negative, but to allow positive healing to take place.  That is the purpose of our practice–not to avoid life, but to experience and demonstrate that happiness in life is possible now, and also in the future. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Sharing a Non-Selfie

originally posted Dec 14, 2013

non-selfie

non-selfie ~d nelson

The self is only made of non-self elements.
But before we can truly understand our nature of non-self
we must understand ourself, first. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Since beginning-less time
impelling energies & matter
interchanging
from form to emptiness
and back again
through space, including earth
to ancestors
who photosynthesized, swam, crawled,
flew, walked, then stood up,
until co-arising as a self
for the sake of argument
we can call me,
in this moment’s configuration.

quick, get a selfie!
as this self will die
and be reborn
in each new moment.

non-selfie with non-tree

non-selfie with non-tree

Five streams flowing, eternally.

First, body: who’s physiology burns calories to fuel it’s movement, bearing new cells as old ones age, and die.

Second, perception: streams in a feast of images, sounds and contact through eye, ear, nose, tongue and touch.

Third, feelings: experienced as pleasures, pains, comfort, and discomfort in heart, mind and body.

Forth, thoughts: appear, interpreting, analyzing, judging, valuing what is happening, has happened and may or may not happen.

Fifth, consciousness: colors all physical and mental formations
mystically owing from individual and collective karma impressions.

An ever-changing self
energetically flowing
as a drop in the river
of humanity.
And at least for now
humanity flows,
interbeing,
among every transcendent river
past, present and future.