Category Archives: Life

Natural Ornamentation Display

persimmon ornaments ~d nelson

Touching beauty
even in those darkest places
gives hope of what’s possible.

Long nights & chill factors;
retreating deep inside
touching roots, holding firm.

Expressing beauty already present
patiently revealed on leafless branches
clearly seen even by the blind.
Like trees, let us proudly
parade our ornaments,
especially our calm smile,
for the world to behold.

We are children of the earth.  We rely on the earth, and the earth relies on us.  Whether the earth is beautiful, fresh and green, or arid and parched, depends on our way of walking.  Please touch the earth in mindfulness, with joy and concentration.  The earth will heal you, and you will heal the earth. ~Thich Nhat Hanh (Your True Home)

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Listening to the One Note

If you ask the cloud, “How old are you? Can you give me your date of birth?”
You can listen deeply and you may hear a reply. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

one note, skilled lesson ~d nelson

I’m so happy being able to still
hear sounds, whether beautiful or not!
Bursts of wave energies traveling
from another’s heart to my ears to my heart.

So, so long ago forebearers
picked up hand-made instruments
expressing what they felt
but could not adequately say any other way.

Some played naturally from intuition
while most practiced at least a little
if not diligently for a lifetime
in order to perform adequately.

one note, conducted

Perhaps we’ve heard names
of truly achieved masters,
or infamous composers & imposters.
Many players go un-named & unknown.

Despite all, together we’re hearing each other;
continuations of long ago’s songs!
We may be out of tune or atonal.
Yet, we can also be one beautiful melody.
May we resoundingly choose harmony
in the eternal key of interconnection.

On this weekend of gratitude,
wishing you enjoyment
& offering this accompanying symphony
performed by a kind, pianist friend & orchestra.

 

May You Bloom Happily & Stay Fresh as the Dew

“To live in the world
with your heart undisturbed by the world,
with all sorrows ended, dwelling in peace —
this is the greatest happiness.” ~ from “Discourse on Happiness”

flowerfresh ~d nelson

Being out of the house
breathing pure, fresh air
seeing the beauty before me
helps my bloom, keeps me fresh.

Interesting that, for me, being indoors
staring at the computer
doesn’t make me feel as fresh
as does having the sky above, earth below
& reflecting on the guidance on happiness, below.

Yet I do get on-line to brief
myself on those latest events.
While such laments of suffering
fuel compassion, I can also feel blue,
despite the aspiration to have my heart
undisturbed, like a Buddha.

May you feel fresh, with inner happiness.
Savoring & taking refuge
in other’s freshness and blooms.
And may we all have more wise
than foolish ones to associate with
& offer compassionate guidance.

Discourse on Happiness

I heard these words of the Buddha one time when the Lord was living in the vicinity of Savatthi at the Anathapindika Monastery in the Jeta Grove. Late at night, a deva appeared whose light and beauty made the whole Jeta Grove shine radiantly. After paying respects to the Buddha, the deva asked him a question in the form of a verse:

“Many gods and men are eager to know
what are the greatest blessings
which bring about a peaceful and happy life.
Please, Tathagata (one of the Buddha’s names), will you teach us?”

(This is the Buddha’s answer):
“Not to be associated with the foolish ones,
to live in the company of wise people,
honoring those who are worth honoring —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To live in a good environment,
to have planted good seeds,
and to realize that you are on the right path —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To have a chance to learn and grow,
to be skillful in your profession or craft,
practicing the precepts and loving speech —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To be able to serve and support your parents,
to cherish your own family,
to have a vocation that brings you joy —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To live honestly, generous in giving,
to offer support to relatives and friends,
living a life of blameless conduct —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To avoid unwholesome actions,
not caught by alcoholism or drugs,
and to be diligent in doing good things —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To be humble and polite in manner,
to be grateful and content with a simple life,
not missing the occasion to learn the Dharma —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To persevere and be open to change,
to have regular contact with monks and nuns,
and to fully participate in Dharma discussions —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To live diligently and attentively,
to perceive the Noble Truths,
and to realize Nirvana —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To live in the world
with your heart undisturbed by the world,
with all sorrows ended, dwelling in peace —
this is the greatest happiness.

“For he or she who accomplishes this,
unvanquished wherever she goes,
always he is safe and happy —
happiness lives within oneself.” ~Buddha, Mahamangala Sutta, Sutta Nipata 1; translated by Thich Nhat Hanh, in Plum Village Chanting Book

Dancing, Embracing Before Fall

“Love one another.” ~ Last words of George Harrison

birch surrendering to the dance ~d nelson

In all our vibrant autumn glory,
graceful dances upon winds & sky.
Blue heaven welcomes us to fall up;
to eternally shimmer & shake
in its immortal jet stream.

surrendering to the dance 4 ~d nelson

Thank you for such an eternal gift
but we accept basic laws of nature.
We accept being rooted to earth,
& impermanent nature of our existence.

surrendering to the dance 5 ~d nelson

Aware of our karmic fate, we rejoice
sharing this brief manifestation, together.
With loving-kindness we embrace each other
Offering a felt sense of connection with touch.

surrendering to the dance 6 ~d nelson

Below, a creepy clown lurking in the woods.
Only those with strongest of roots remain unfazed
by this walking, talking abnormal cartoon of hatred
& his rebellion against goodness, a mutiny against sanity,
propelled by fear and greed and bitterness to hurt, while
perilously swaggering his given power to unleash nuclear winds.

With our greatest empathy & advice, as leaves,
we say, embrace each other, leave no one out.
Holding loved ones lessens the pain;
inviting all, while making the circle wider.
Let no one have to duck & cover, alone.

Collective energy of wisdom & compassion
nurturing acceptance to what is happening;
surrender to what is really happening
on the inside, and out.

surrendering to the dance 3 ~d nelson

In our calm, peaceful hearts & minds
we can act & move wisely into what is scary.
Colorfully shimmering, dancing, soaring,
falling, all according to nature,
what’s in & out of our control.

Leaving this post’s last words to George; give me love

Animal Survivor’s & Evacuee’s Shelter from Firestorm

Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away ~Mick Jagger & Keith Richards

gimme shelter: caring for horseys ~d nelson

This week wind’s continually enraged
local fires’ ferocious, insatiable appetites.
Heroically, domestic animals were rescued
and evacuated to the fairgrounds and other shelters.
I smile to your living, scorched fur presence.

gimme shelter: relieve my saddness ~d nelson

Breathing in, through a particulate respirator
I calm my body, that you may feel safe
and cared for and can calm your precious body, too.
I somehow see in your eyes & body language
the sadness of being displaced & relocated.
The trauma of surviving, after witnessing
those who ran for shelter from smoke
& flames, but were consumed by the cataclysm.

Overhead a constant roars of helicopters
& air bombers carry water & fire-retardant,
fighting a real war of survival from above,
while hundreds of firefighters from all over the West
drain their sources to save people, animals & drought-ravaged forest.
Dozens already known dead, hundreds missing.
Over 5700 structures destroyed. It’s all beyond sad.

Humbling to be here whilst hillsides, valleys,
homes just 8 miles away were lost to the inferno.
South a short distance from where I now type,
hotels, business’ and entire neighborhoods, gone.
The local high school & college are shelters for newly homeless people.

Last Sunday I stopped to grocery shop at trader joes in Santa Rosa
after chatting about music while checking out,
headed back to my small Mendocino County town.
Later that evening Coffey Park & Fountaingrove neighborhoods were consumed.
Just a block from where I had stopped to shop.
Looking at news articles I happen to read about a musician
who fortunately heard the sheriff’s evacuation loudspeaker outside.
He & the girlfriend quickly packed up the guitar, the dogs and got in the car.
In the rearview mirror was a rapidly approaching fireball scorching Coffey Park.
Reading that he worked at trader joes, I recognized he was my cashier.

It’s heartbreaking to here, now whilst my hometown of Sonoma
& much of Sonoma County also continues to burn.
Breathing in, I feel mostly calm. Breathing out noticeable emotional overload.
May I live in such a way that honors those who are gone.
Gratitude, expressed in this song, for being offered shelter when needed.
As I sleep lightly & often use earplugs to keep from being awoken,
it could have been me. I likely wouldn’t have heard evacuation orders
as sheriff’s car drove past in the middle of the night.

When a feeling of sadness, despair, or anger arises, we should stop what we are doing in order to go home to ourselves and take care. We can sit or lie down and begin to practice mindful breathing. The daily practice of breathing can be very helpful. A strong emotion is like a storm, and when a storm is about to arrive, we should prepare so we can cope with it. We should not dwell on the level of our head and our thinking but bring all our attention down to the level of our abdomen. We may practice mindful breathing and become aware of the rise and fall of our abdomen. Breathing in, rising; breathing out, falling. Rising, falling. We stop all the thinking because thinking can make the emotion stronger.
We should be aware that an emotion is only an emotion; it arrives, stays for some time, and then passes, just like a storm. We should not die just because of one emotion. We should remind young people about this. We are much more than our emotions, and we can take care of them whether we are feeling anger or despair. We don’t think anymore, we just focus 100 percent of our attention on the rise and fall of the abdomen and in that moment we are safe. Our emotion may last five or ten minutes but if we continue to breathe in and out, we will be safe, because mindfulness is protecting us. Mindfulness is the Buddha in us, helping us practice belly breathing…
We are like a tree during a storm. If you look at the top of a tree, you may have the impression that the tree can be blown away or that the branches can be broken anytime, but if you direct your attention to the trunk of the tree and become aware that the tree is deeply rooted in the soil, then you see the solidity of the tree. The mind is the top of the tree, so don’t dwell there; bring your mind down to the trunk. The abdomen is the trunk, so stick to it, practice mindful, deep breathing, and after that the emotion will pass. When you have survived one emotion, you know that next time a strong emotion arises, you will survive again. But don’t wait for the next strong emotion to practice. It is important that you practice deep, mindful breathing every day.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Getting Up on the Bright Side of the Bed

beautiful Tortoise on the bright side

beautiful Tortoise on the bright side ~d nelson

Dear Ones, with the agony & joy of having no internet service at home all week, I’m re-posting this piece originally posted on May 10, 2013.

Slowly I rolled over and got up on the bright side of the bed this afternoon, well actually, the massage table. So wonderfully relaxed in this body. While the humble Chinese man’s experienced hands found and worked acupressure points, I followed the in and out breaths with a smile. Breathing in, feeling pressure along the shoulder-blade. Breathing out, letting go of tension there. “Such a joy”, said my body, in its unspoken language. And what could be better, asks the mind. Perhaps soaking, relaxingly, in really hot water, it replies.

Meditation generally keeps my thoughts and feelings at ease. Stretching and yoga releases physical tightness. But having help to work out the kinks, undo the knots, flush out the lactic acid is quite a luxury. I’m feeling grateful for the conditions that allow for such a healing offering to the body at an affordable price. It can also be a beautiful gift to the one next to you.

When getting off the table I remembered a song I wrote back in 2000 to celebrate coming out of a painful and dark period. I was fortunate to record it with some Hopi School 4th graders. And it became a modest hit on KUYI Hopi radio, in part due to the Hopi translation of the chorus. I recall the translation is getting up facing the direction of light. Years later a music video of the Bright Side of the Bed featuring the original recording was produced and can be seen below with some beautiful young sisters from Amsterdam. It is easy getting up on the bright side of the massage table. May you get up on the bright side of the bed every morning.

Equality Without Complex

We have the complex of superiority as human beings and we think we have that kind of intelligence, that kind of consciousness that other living beings do not have. But I’m not very proud of that kind of mind that we are using in daily life: the mind of discrimination caught by many notions, the foundation of all kind of suffering. We discriminate against this and that, and that creates complexes of superiority, inferiority, and equality.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

contemplative dinner mtn hike

While hiking up Deer Park’s sacred mountain
along with many friends on the path,
a koan intrigues my trickster mind,
“what keeps us all apart?”

equality without complex (4 of 9)

Sitting quietly, looking down at a leaf, suddenly
the cloud, the tree, & the logger reveal themselves.
Upon recognizing earth & sky within the leaf, also,
the wind briskly asks, “what side are you on?”

equality without complex (9 of 9)

Humbly mind answers, I’ve been on either side,
I’ve been on both sides,
and now I vow to taking no side
other than understanding, compassion & love.

sitting like Buddhas

Smiling under leaf’s tree to mountain sunset’s revelation
that freedom from the equality complex
is found by transforming an insatiable habit
of mind trying to make things equal.
Discriminating mind fails at:
recognizing its own conditions of happiness;
having sympathetic joy for other’s good fortune;
and cultivating empathy for other’s misfortune.

lotus koi pond ~d nelson

On the surface, me & so-called non-me
may seem as separate splashes & waves,
but underneath, all is water.
All of creation, seen & unseen, uniquely expressed
in the past, present & future cosmic oceans.
Such joy briefly experiencing inter-being
during an outrageous inner sunset among friends.