BUDDHA IN THE RAIN
And Other Thoughts
WIND AND RAIN
It was the wind that always tortured me,
wild wind...calm wind,
it was the free wind that tormented me,
North wind...West wind,
it was where the wind had been
that bothered me,
temperate wind, frigid wind,
it was where the wind was headed
that burdened me.
And then there was the rain,
all things were good and great,
all things were as they should be.
The wind and the rain,
yeah and amen
THE THREE JEWELS OF BUDDHISM
THE BUDDHA One takes refuge in the Buddha as a first step toward understanding, compassion
and enlightenment. This is the first step toward faith and your potential as a human being.
THE DHARMA One takes refuge in the Dharma. It is the compassionate wisdom and deep
understanding of the Buddha. His teachings are the guide for the journey.
THE SANGHA One takes refuge in the Sangha. It is the total body of believers
who seek enlightenment through the guidance of the Buddha and Dharma.
THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS
To live means to suffer. It is the human condition.
Suffering is caused by destructive attachment to things.
There is a guide one can use to put an end to suffering
The Noble Eightfold Path will help end suffering.
THE FIVE PRECEPTS
Practice love and refrain from killing.
Practice generosity and refrain from stealing.
Practice contentment and refrain from sexual misconduct.
Practice mindful speech and refrain from harmful speech.
Practice mindful consumption and refrain from harmful
substances that harm yourself, society and the environment.
THE VOWS OF THE BODHISATTVA
Sentient beings cannot be counted, I vow to save them all.
Suffering is inexhaustible, I vow to end it.
Teachings are limitless, I vow to learn them all.
The Way of the Buddha is unsurpassable, I vow to follow it.
THE WAY THAT SURPASSES ALL MEANING AND UNDERSTANDING
You know more than I know but I know everything. You know more people than I know but I know everybody. You have been to more places than I but I have been everywhere. Your faiths and beliefs are stronger than mine but they are part of my spirituality. Your scriptures stretch around the world but they are but a part of what I find inspired. You are my superior in all things but I can give you the most superior of all that is. No matter what, you must never stop searching. The sincere desire to please will please yourself as well as all beings you desire to please. You will find that the path under your feet is the true path if you truly believe. When you are honest with the one who knows when you are sincere, you will have found the way that surpasses all meaning and understanding.
He wanted to see and shout
from mountain top and plains below.
The view from the heights and through the nights
...now but a painful pleasing time capsule of eternity.
The sum of the parts
is nothing more than the sound of breaking hearts.
It'll be this way in the flames of perdition,
it'll flow and form lava like,
it will roll and rock...seeking its own level
of course one phrase begets another,
these things travel like that
these things sink or swim in faded stories
and likelihoods of despondent glories.
This is how it will forever be,
pages ripped from journals,
bloody hands write and struggle for such seconds...
this is how icy stares birth self directed triumphant minutes,
this is for that,
and for all things that fade in the heavenly embrace
of midnight's fleeting foundering grace.
He's been waiting far too long,
he was on a fool's journey when they organized the missions
...seeking holy thoughts and sacred works...
Hell, he was striding and strutting the walk of saintly steps,
He was play acting the rituals from the promises he'd heard,
his was a stupidity that failed common reality with the absurd.
He tried to warn everyone...crying in the desert,
He was coherent just this side of inconsequence,
that was him in his Third World disguise
Yea, holy shouting conflagration of despair
in sacred chants of amen
and ever after sublime laments of paths not taken
roads not even fathomed, regrets of such forsaken.
Of course he remembers the organ pounding jabs,
He was of the prototypical caste,
...they were going to carve their thoughts
on the face of destiny.
They were going to be the lonely children of forever
and forever’s petition with an invisible mighty hand.
What they didn’t get wrong
they failed to get right,
They were placed here to warn you,
They were placed here as a warning.
They placed themselves.
Have you ears to hear of avenging angels?
Ignore the wailing siren of despairing alarm,
that is how your kingdom will evolve,
there it is...
you have mastered life’s mystery,
you are free to go,
circulate among your massed congregation,
...share the sacraments
you are what you prophesied and conspired.
Nothing matters except matter,
...this is how stances become legends,
go forth and multiply,
...go forth and declare whatever you wish,
choose your words but remember,
you will arbitrate the definitions...
‘not’ and ‘no’
these are but flaws in the organization.
There are thousands of ways
(amid ten thousand things)
to get from here to there
poignancy drips from every lamp post
the prophet writes one eyed,
his laugh a graveyard laugh,
he whistles past his own plot and predicament.
The prophet wanders through the woods,
trees begin to look alike...
the wind seems to blow from all directions
before it is calm.
The moss is on all sides of the trees,
legend says direction is fathomed
by plotting the sunrise and sunset,
but it’s cloudy and has been for a season,
the times and signs seem only able to predict problems
--and coexistent disasters.
The prophet is without honor on his own seas,
his harbors are distant and shifting,
he should have known of the why and how of shipwreck
and shipwreck’s reason and season,
the child in the midst indeed knew,
but these things had to be navigated by the celestial
...these things were of personal consequence.
ENLIGHTENMENT AND SALVATION
I have come to find the teachings of Jesus Christ and The Buddha to be very comforting, illuminating and totally compatible. They also demand I step out in danger. They are but two of the many paths to righteousness. The trip has come full circle. I still don't have any of the answers to the big questions. If the religious mentors of my youth saw me now I'm sure they would be concerned. They shouldn't be. It's all about the journey. The most you can do is to be true to yourself—to be honest with yourself—to do the best you can. That will surely satisfy a loving god—it will certainly satisfy your own soul when you awake at three in the morning. Yea, I'm naive—I believed those people who said the purpose of man was to seek out God and to love your neighbor. I still believe it except I know now that my neighbor is of all nations, creeds and colors. I said I was naive but I am not embarrassed or discouraged. I'll leave hypocrisy, greed, hatred and lying to the hypocrites and greedy liars who wear their phony faiths on their sleeves. I wrote in 1967: "There is only one sincerity, it is the sincerity within me—a man is held accountable only by his inner thoughts—his conscience is the sum total of all of his inner thoughts and beliefs—his task is to know himself and be faithful to that knowledge." A college professor of philosophy said it was the most profound explanation of the existential journey he'd ever read. I can say it no better today. I had had my first breathtaking thrill of the divine wind of enlightenment the year before. I was both comfortable and scared at the same time. Nothing has ever changed.
I've tried all the creeds and isms out there. I've been sprinkled, immersed and admitted to religions of every stripe. I've formally taken refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha of the Buddhist religion and have taken the vows of a Bodhisattva in the same group. Along the way I've made common pursuit with the Catholics, the Protestants of that whole spectrum, the Mormons, the Muslims and Hindus. I've been saved, born again, sworn in (and sworn at), enlightened and made aware of everyone's big secret. I'm ordained by the Universal Life Church as a minister and have received an Associate of Divinity degree from the Universal Ministries School Of Theology. The last two may not be worth the paper they're printed on—perfect metaphors for any attempt to practice one's religion outside one's own mind and spirit. They go well with the Ph.D. I have from my own Escambia University. Sadly, one sheep skin may well be worth as much as all of them. All learning is spiritual—or it's worthless.
I believe all scripture is inspired if it works for your betterment as a person. I also believe that you are the judge as to what constitutes holy scripture. There are more worthy scriptures than you might realize.
SERMONS IN STONE
My phylactery runneth over. I carry a little pouch that can best be characterized as a phylactery of sorts. Instead of slips of paper, my little leather container holds what most would say are simply rocks. They are so much more than that. They are things upon which I meditate and contemplate. These rocks are my holy scriptures.
Crystals. These will be the first you'll notice and they are the ones you can easily identify. Some people believe they have power. I'm not willing to dismiss any spiritual pursuit. To me, the key word is "believe." It is belief that I find compelling. Belief in crystals is a kind of faith—faith, the evidence of things unseen. Faith is the quality that gives me the hope that love exists outside my own mind. Faith is the belief that eternal truths are real and attainable. Faith is my ground in sanity—it is my assurance that things and thoughts and spirits, actually exist. Faith had to be the fuel for the great fire that burned in the heart of Buddha and Christ—faith that the effort was worth what it cost in pain—faith that enlightenment and salvation were real, and within reach. The prophets have been guided in their wandering and wondering by faith. When the world is bent on achieving hell on earth, faith is the one thing that helps us transcend the darkness. Faith is inner strength gliding across the thin ice separating us from a terrible void. Faith is the thrill of the existential search—the thrill of knowing you have world enough and time if you but risk. Modern man has looked in the vaults and the places of worship. He has walked on the moon and looked back in time. He's plunged into ocean depths and climbed the highest peaks. And everywhere he's gone, he's come up short. The lesson of the crystals is so positive. Have faith in the inner spiritual self. Seek meaning in your own heart. Take what you can from the great teachers. Have faith in justice and truth as you meditate through the long dark nights.
I don't just carry crystals. I carry some gems. I'm amused by the world. They will fight, steal and kill for rubies, sapphires and emeralds. However, they'll only seek certain such stones. They must be cut and polished. My gems are rough and unwanted. They've only been polished by rubbing against each other. Indeed, they are of the same mineral properties of the sought after stones, but they have never triggered fights and greed. In this sense they are truly precious gems.
My ruby is of the color of the martyr's blood. That gem teaches fidelity to one's true purpose no matter the cost. It is a stone I find difficulty in facing.
The sapphire is my gem with all of the mystery of a dark night sky—a clear night, a night when you seem to be able to see forever. I like the sapphire. You can't lie to anyone when you're alone under a dark, clear night sky.
The emerald is my link to the forest and its creatures. It is nature and nature's God. This gem calms and quiets. It is the reminder that we are not the master of even our own little niche. We are part of a greater whole even as we feel ecstasy in our individuality. The emerald is the promise of a verdant spring. If hope were a gem it would be an emerald.
Turquoise is the blue-green ocean. This stone is a reminder of faraway places. One water touches all continents. The ocean brings valued items back and forth between all places. There is a paradox about the ocean—even as it separates, it joins. Turquoise thus teaches that there is good when things are used well and with compassion.
I also carry a good old fashioned rock. I don't know what kind it is and I don't want to know. This rock is the common man. It came from a stream—the streams of the mountains being the most pleasing. My rock is also a reminder of Sisyphus. It is a miniature boulder of the kind Camus saw as triumphant rather than tragic. It teaches victory over absurdity. Sisyphus raises his rock and gives us an eternal model for inner peace.
A small chip of flint is also in my pouch. It came from an archaeological site and it connects me to the spirit of the ancients. It teaches us to honor those who came before and lament the lost truths we could benefit from now. It recommends curiosity as a virtue.
I also carry a rock which isn't a rock. It is petrified wood. Wood from its era has long since disappeared in its natural state. This wood drew the strength of minerals from its surroundings. It survives because it changed. Its lesson is powerful.
I carry a common stone from the ground of the grave of Thomas Merton. It's a kind of relic but one for which I'm worthy. It's not a true relic in the sense it ever was something he touched. I wouldn't be worthy of that. My relic is just a tiny, common pebble. He was a mountain. The comparative proportions are proper. I also carry a small rock from his Zen Garden. It reminds me of the noble truths and teachings of the Buddha.
I have a piece of "man-made" rock called mortar in my collection. It once helped hold bricks together in a prison where a famous Native American was imprisoned. His captors insisted on calling him and his people by the name Indian. His captors wanted to educate his children about their angry god in reservation schools while they taught the adults to give up their culture and ancient lifestyle. This "rock" warns that good things can be used for evil when we engage in bias and hate. It reminds us of wrongs we have done in our pursuit of wealth and power.
I carry other stones. They are personal messages which have relevance only to me and the path under my feet.
One of my gems is a meteorite. No one knows how far it has traveled. Where it originated, we measure distance by time, not miles. What force put it in motion? What is really out there? Is my shiny black meteorite merely a reminder of mysteries too great to comprehend? It taunts us with doubts. In a sense, doubt is also evidence of things unseen. This may be my favorite stone. It returns us to faith.
THROUGH MIST AND FOG
The Way Back
(To my childhood home)
The places of our youth still exist. They occupy some sort of Brigadoon in our minds. You took them with you when you left. For your effort, they live forever and ever. They come to life whenever you have pause to reflect—and cherish. They live wherever fireflies (some of us call them lightning bugs) swarm. Teach the little ones about simpler times and those simpler times spring into existence. Kick the can and play at jumping rope—and play hide and seek. Mom or Dad will materialize all too soon to call you in for the night. Always it is too early, but the places of your youth are real and their orbit moves across the sky as surely as the sun. Life goes on. Watch the shadows at sunset—young boys still marvel at why the girls are walking differently. Young girls are still amused at why the boys act like such idiots. Ah, the places of our youth still exist. They are here and there—and everywhere. They can be measured in quantum leaps and little baby steps. They are no longer defined by Mom or Dad calling us in; but they are treasured for all time by the sound and size of all things measured from here to forever.
Yeah, my friend...those places still exist. They live on in hearts and minds. They are here when we think about times and spaces—about yesterdays and tomorrows. They are here when we most need them. They exist because we exist. They are wherever we are.
BUDDHA IN THE RAIN
And Other Thoughts
Written by Sonam Yeshi
(Bill Stockland) 2010
Buddhism—as should be any serious religion or philosophy—is an intensely personal thing.
These are my interpretations. They represent what Buddhism means to me. Buddhism
isn't about limits, it is about beginnings—about first steps and continued steps.