Saturday, May 29, 2004

Saturday morning at Starbucks

Father and baby reading the newspaper
Is mother at home sleeping, luxuriating in silence and idleness?

A girl glides in on rollerblades with natural and yet amazing grace.

A tall man in white, white hat, white shirt, contrasting with his sun darkened skin waits to get his caramel frappachino.

A woman in purple sneezes and is blessed by the man making her latte.

Father and son with identical large blue eyes discuss with wonder a baby who can speak Spanish and never cries.

Father with baby gives up reading and is seduced into blowing raspberries on the baby's belly.

Outside the sun shines brightly in its late May way, the wind blows, it's just another beautiful day.

Friday, May 28, 2004

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

I just finished watching The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. This is an excellent film with complex character development. The acting is wonderful, especially Walter Huston. Three men work together to find gold in the mountains, enduring hardship and suffering. One theme of the movie was how gold changes a person. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart)is a generous, easy going guy in the beginning who doesn't believe gold will change him. Curtin (Tim Holt) doesn't have much personality in the beginning but gold has its effect on him as well. They are taught and guided by a wise old prospector, Howard (Walter Huston).

This film raised a number of questions in my mind. In the beginning of the story, Dobbs, Curtin and Howard didn't have much money. They took what little they did have and risked it to look for gold. They could have played it safe and used the money to pay for food and a place to sleep for a few months but they spent it for the chance of something more. In the story, you can see they are right because if they had spent it on room and board it would have run out and they would have been exactly where they started without even adventure to show for it. I wonder how often I have the opportunity to risk temporary comfort with for the chance of adventure? How often to I choose comfort?

I also wonder if gold or wealth would change me. I have never been wealthy. Would I be greedy for more like Dobbs was? I don't think so but he didn't think he would be either. You are never certain how you will react to a situation until you are faced with it.

At the end they lose the gold and Dobbs loses his life. Howard and Curtin can laugh in the face of their loss. Actually they both got what they really wanted, Howard, a place of comfort to live out his life and Curtin, a fruit farm. They didn't need the gold at all. The scene in which the two of them laugh and laugh as they realize the gold has been blown away in the wind reminds me of a few lines in one of my favorite poems, "If" by Rudyard Kipling.

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;

The entire poem is powerful, but for me, lately, these four lines are especially so. To me it speaks of being independent of the material world, about knowing you are more than your accomplishments, more than your belongings, more than other people's opinion of you. If you can do as the poem states, risk everything, lose it, and not be concerned enough to even mention it, then you have confidence in yourself and contentment with what you are, in absence of the outer world. Quite an achievement and worth more than 10 burros piled with bags of gold.


The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Motivation for blogging

There is an interesting article in the NY Times today about blogging. The author discusses the motivation of blogging and how some people become addicted to it, blogging rather than doing their paid work, rather than spending time with loved ones, rather than relaxing on vacation. Reading the article led me to think about why I am writing this blog. What purpose does it serve in my life? Does it matter to me if anyone reads it? I certainly can understand how one can become addicted to blogging. Although I have only started, I feel the pull to post. I have to be very disciplined not to spend work time or every free minute of leisure time working on my blog. I made my first post on May 13th, only two weeks ago. The initial idea was that it would be an online journal of my spiritual path. Although I have kept journals in the past, I have been pretty lax about it for several years and I thought the interesting technological aspect of blogging would keep me motivated. But very soon something happened. I started writing for the audience. I started to wonder what my readers (I think there are a few) would think. Would they think I am interesting enough, intelligent enough, witty enough, dedicated enough. Once again constructing myself based on my perception of other's perception of me.

I know I am not alone in filtering my entries to 'impress' my readers. Elizabeth Thomsen started a reading blog but discovered the blog was affecting her reading rather than being a passive reflection of what she read and thought.

She writes:
But I found that the fact that I knew I was going to post the title of every book that I read affected my reading habits. It made me self-conscious in my book selections and my opinions.

But there is another reason for blogging and I think this is the main reason it is so enticing for me and perhaps others. One of the bloggers interviewed in the article, Gregor J. Rothfuss said:
"I was trying to record all thoughts and speculations I deemed interesting," he said. "Sort of creating a digital alter ego. The obsession came from trying to capture as much as possible of the good stuff in my head in as high fidelity as possible."

I can relate to this. For me, really, this blog is a way to preserve and to organize myself. Humans are complicated and their thoughts--my thoughts especially so. The impossible task I put on myself, hidden in the back of my mind, is to record all these thoughts, separating the precious metals and gems from the common rock, sort, catalog and preserve them for posterity, hoping all the time that my gems are as high quality as anybody else's and actually worth preserving.

So where does this leave me? I will keep blogging and I will try to be honest with what I write. But I can't forget you are out there. Real or imagined, I write for you, too.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Comments on Gibran's "Love"

This poem was very important to me several years ago when I was going through a difficult period of internal and external turmoil in my life. His view of love is very powerful and probably seems extreme to many people. Today, for me, this poem relates more to my meditation practice. My personal life is much smoother, not so many swords among the pinions. But I struggle in meditation. I struggle to allow myself to be ground to whiteness, to be kneaded, to dissolve into my koan, into the universe, to know true love.

Here is a poem I wrote during that difficult time. Perhaps an answer to Gibran while grappling with the uncertainties in my life.


My life is going to change again
I know it
And my mind knows it
Of course
A change like so many before
Another day
A sunrise
A rainstorm
A scar
Or, perhaps,
A caress
She knows it
Sees it for what it is
Another event
Life experience
Nothing less
Nothing more

My life is going to change again
I feel it
And my heart feels it
A small
Tremor, and a deep panic
Tells that another change
A crashing
A shaking
A destroying
Will blow apart
This small, tidy pile
She has made
From the shattered
Left after
The change before

Copyright 2004 Tinne

A favorite poem


Then said Almitra, Speak to us of Love.

And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them. And with a great voice he said:

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun.
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.
But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.
When you love you should not say, `God is in my heart,' but rather, `I am in the heart of God.'
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

Kahlil Gibran; The Prophet

Monday, May 24, 2004

Shine time

From Creating a Charmed Life by Victoria Moran

Everybody needs some time to shine, time to be recognized, special, admired. It's not selfish, its human.

But if you're not getting enough of your own shine time, it's easy to be needy, whiny and pitiful. ...the shine deficient tend to resent other people's accomplishments and dampen their dreams.

For your own benefit as well as those around you...

Indulge yourself often in what you do well.

Spend time with people who think you're splendid and will tell you so.

Celebrate yourself.

Mark the occasions of your life with fun and festivities. Never get too old for birthdays.

Train those close to you to appreciate shine time by giving them some.

Keep track of their special days. Notice their accomplishments. Never leave an honest compliment unspoken.

Don't downplay your successes.

When you're in the limelight, invite others to share it.

When the world isn't noticing you, notice yourself.

Allow other people unimpeded shine time.

Welcome shine time as a cyclic experience.

This is one of my favorite ideas or 'secrets' in the book. I read this in the library and decided to buy a copy of the book for myself. I want to keep these ideas in mind. This week I will encourage shining, both myself and those around me. And maybe we can make this world a brighter place.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Zen and then gardening

I awakened with a start and looked at my watch. 6:40 AM! I am late! I must leave now to go to the zendo. I rushed, getting dressed and was about to walk out the door when I looked at clock on the stove and saw 2:59 AM. I thought it looked especially dark outside and it was very hard to get out of bed. I tried to talk myself out of going several times but I was also proud of myself that I didn't listen. It was delicious to go back to sleep for 3 hours. I woke up at 6, had a cup of green tea and went to meditate. I was shoji again today. Still made mistakes but I felt a bit more comfortable. On the way home, I was driving and just really enjoying the birds, the trees, and then I looked in the mirror and saw a car behind me and I realized I was going pretty slow. (oops)

I am wondering
Is it ok to write a boring entry
In your blog
To show the world
Your inner bland?

I spent the afternoon planting herbs and flowers. The flowers/herbs I planted:

Bleeding heart - one pink, one white
Oriental poppy - scarlet
sedum (I don't know the name of the variety)
curly parsley
Italian parsley

Isn't the Plants Database cool?