Looking for some serious book browsing? Try the Midtown Scholar on Third Street in Harrisburg, just across from the Farmer's Market.
I was in town yesterday morning, a pretty dreary early November morning, and decided on the spur of the moment to stop in at the bookstore. I parked around the corner and trudged up the street, a little cold and disheveled feeling, sometimes that's November.
An older man dressed all in black was coming toward me, and as he got closer he greeted me.
I looked up and smiled, a little dispirited.
"Lift up your head. Look up" he said, and lifted his own head up with his hand. "There."
I laughed and he just smiled and headed into the corner bar.
An inner city Bodhisattva.
Inside the Midtown Scholar I found Everyday Zen by one of my favorites, Charlotte Joko Beck, then Mountain Record of Zen Talks by another one of my favorites, and Beck's Dharma Brother, John Daido Loori Roshi.
Beck and Loori are both Dharma heirs of Taizan Maezumi and couldn't be further from one another in how they approach and share the Dharma--they strike me as the two arms of Maezumi, both connected to the same body, yet far apart in outward practice.
Beck has left her lineage, robes, Dharma name and all trappings of traditional Japanese Zen behind, embracing a "nothing special" attitude that reflects the evolution of American Zen. Loori, on the other hand, established the Zen Mountain Monastery in upper state New York and patterned it very closely on traditional monastic life. His Zendo follows strict and precise Japanese protocol, and there is little room for free forming the practice.
But I love them both, which seems contradictory when I think about it, but I don't feel the contradiction in the heart-mind. There is a place for both practices.
I also found a copy of Sogyal Rinpoche's book Glimpse After Glimpse: Daily Reflections On Living & Dying. Oddly enough, when I later got home and took my receipt out of Rinpoche's books, I noticed I had inadvertently tucked it into the March 29 page...my birthday....and this is what it says:
Taking impermanence truly to heart is to be slowly freed from the idea of grasping, from our flawed and destructive view of permanence, from the false passion for security on which we have built everything. slowly it dawns on us that all the heartache we have been through from grasping at the ungraspable was, in the deepest sense, unnecessary.
Last night, while doing the laundry, I did lift my head, and noticed that the exotic orchid in the hanging basket was blooming once again, after spending the summer outdoors. It's brilliant, tawny yellow waxed flower was marked like a tiger's skin, and it made me laugh to think of this flower stalking me, ready to pounce as I threw wet clothes into the dryer.
I miss so much sometimes....
Now I notice that this orchid is leading the way, a brave tiger, with half a dozen plump closed flowers lined up behind, waiting for their turn to bloom.
Namu Amida Butsu!