The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha

"Spiritual powers and their wondrous functioning--hauling water and carrying firewood." --Layman Pang, upon his realization

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Week

A week is such a short time, and yet so much goes on.

Rain and Rain and Rain, and it still came down. Until all the small creeks and rivers, and the big Susquehanna over ran their banks, wrecking havoc with many small communities in South Central PA. The Susquehanna threatened to reach 29 1/2 feet over flood level, but did not get quite that high.
The freakiest, and most damaging water, came from friendly little backyard creeks and streams that were transformed into fast moving, filthy monsters, leaving mud everywhere in their wake.

Caked to belongings on the ground floor of so many homes, caked to trees, bushes, grass, roads, sheds (that hadn't floated away), swamping swimming pool, playhouses and dog houses, all over everything, mud!
What do you do with mud?
It weighs a ton, it's so dirty you don't want to touch it, and it's everywhere.
How do you get mud off bushes?
I guess it takes more rain....

And now the task at hand is moving sodden belonging out of sodden homes, piling it up curbside to wait for the back-hoe to roll down the street, accompanied by dump trucks, and watching as it all gets scooped up for the land fill. Countless material objects that meant something to someone, that were dear and gently loved, or stored for the next generation.
The piles of now useless possessions is heartbreaking.

It makes me wonder, what possession is ultimately necessary and useful? What is it I can't live without? How much is enough?
I am a super consumer, I consume more than my share. I collect, and I live with a collector. But the site of all these destroyed things is enough to make me wonder why I continue to purchase ANYTHING!

I've got more than enough of EVERYTHING!

The Susquehanna began to drop, though the water churned like a chocolate milkshake in the blender.

Sunday, 9/11, ten years after the terrorist's destruction, we gathered at St. Stephens Episcopal Church in Harrisburg, not flooded somehow, and we gathered in deep remembrance. The keynote speaker was a Muslim Imam from Georgetown University, Imam Yaha Hendi, and his message was boisterously communicated--Brothers and Sisters, Sisters and Brothers, We must find a radical equalism... I paraphrase, though "radical equalism" was his expression that stuck with me.

I thought, Wasn't the Buddha's awakening a "radical equalism?"

The Imam is part of a group of clergy from various faith traditions who call themselves Clergy Beyond Borders, and their message is one of radical equalism! They are practicing as if their hair is on fire, and I love them for their sincere and brilliant vision.
Please check out their website at:

Without deep listening, we will never change the probability that the destructive events of the past won't be our future. And listening is done not only with the ears, but with an open, tolerant heart.

And on Monday night, the Harvest Moon rose over the College Farm, a big fat orange orb that began to shed light across the cold grass where we practiced yoga, walked meditation, sat meditation, were bitten by moon loving bugs, and finally enjoyed hot tea and cookies.

Everyone looked lovely in the moonlight, as if we were moon bathing. The cookies tasted better than they usually do, and folks lingered on their yoga mats, just talking. No one felt like leaving, but by 9, it was time to pack up the movable feast and moon viewing party .
All agreed we would have to meet for another full moon...perhaps the Hunters Moon, which always appears intensely red and gigantic on the October horizon.

Tuesday night we gathered at Gaia Fresh Foods Cafe for meditation and a book discussion.
When I arrived to set up, the room where we sit had been transformed into a Moroccan red tent, with sumptuous fabrics draped and hung everywhere, rugs on the floor and pillows invitingly plumped and arranged for lingering.
My little Butsudan was a sobering effect amongst all that opulence, but I think I saw the Buddha smiling...she liked the decorations, and decided there was always room for Bedouin Zen!
Afterwards, one of sitters said he wanted to "buy the teacher a smoothie", so I was treated not only to being called a teacher, but also enjoyed an incredible treat--pineapple, blueberries, banana and coconut milk!

Three of us stayed behind to discuss Pema Chodron's book, Start Where You Are.
We focused on one small question--how, with all the difficulty and stickiness, do we practice deep compassion? And how, even as we feel ourselves tightening to close, do we remain open in the midst of suffering?
Small question, did I say?
Massive, earth shattering question....We came to no conclusion but this; meditation is the key, and even if we don't understand with the thinking mind, the ego self, how it opens us to the heart of compassion, we none the less know that it does.
And does it matter who the knower is?
I think so, but it didn't really matter to my two friends; they were just thankful to experience that open heart from time to time, and I was thankful for that!

Tonight we meet again for our Thursday Night meditation at Landis House, and I think I'll tell the story of Bodhidharma who came from the West.

But why did Bodhidharma come from the West?

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