Birds, Coffee and Void: Last Thoughts

But all this is silliness.

I enjoy being outdoors in the morning listening to birds.

I enjoy the light of dawn: its shy secretive blue, its slow but steady reveal of the world.

I love coffee, even bad coffee.

No more than all this! And no less either.

No mysteries. No secrets.

Just this.

This in which the one who talks too much about “void” risks being spiritually obtuse.

This in which the one who speaks of “emptiness” and “stillness” with near-evangelical fervor . . .

. . . has forgotten something and thinks “you” have it.

This in which it is clear that nobody has forgotten anything.

This in which nothing is lost.

This in which this morning I didn’t go to the barn but stayed inside, without coffee, exhausted, laying on the couch, watching light bleed through drawn curtains due east. After hours of night given to reading and prayer, all with an intensity evoking Kapleau’s description of shikan-taza . . .

. . . shikan-taza is a heightened state of concentrated awareness wherein one is neither tense nor hurried, and certainly never slack. It is the mind of somebody facing death (The Three Pillars of Zen 56).

Which in turn recalls these two questions and their answer from A Course in Miracles:

What would you see without the fear of death? What would you feel and think if death held no attraction for you? Very simply, you would remember your Father. The Creator of life, the Source of everything that lives, the Father of the universe and of the universe of universes, and of everything that lies even beyond them would you remember (T-19.IV.D.1:1-4).

Lay there unmoving. Eyes open then shut. Bird song but different, not like in the barn. Muffled a little. Traffic also different, groaning on the downslope of Route Nine past the village cemetery. The neighbor’s lambs bawl; a rooster crows.

Kapleau – he is summarizing a lecture of Yasutani-Roshi – also says:

Compared with an unskilled swordsman a master uses his sword effortlessly. But this was not always the case, for there was a time when he had to strain himself to the utmost, owing to his imperfect technique, to preserve his life. It is no different with shikan-taza (The Three Pillars of Zen 57).

How tired I am! Yet how grateful.

I live in you –
not as darkness
but as a light in which
even darkness cannot hide.

I live in you as that
which you long
to give away.

I live in you
as love.

In time, the world awakens. The mail truck from Springfield arrives, the driver calling “good morning” to M., who from the loading dock answers – quieter, knowing who is still asleep on Main Street – “good morning.”

For it is morning. Before judgment – good, bad, this or that – it is morning. Light streams over the hills, mist rises off the pasture.

How happy I am. How grateful.

More than this quiet joy this morning is not possible; less is possible, to the precise extent I insist on prerogatives that do not come from the Holy One. The secret to salvation is that we do this unto our own self (T-18.VIII.10:1). Shall we take this literally then? See what happens if we do, at least?

You have no problems, though you think you have . . . Think not the limits you impose on what you see can limit God in any way (T-26.II.3:3, 5).

Yes, so long as there is a perception of lack, then there will be a perception of problems, and so long as there is a perception of problems, then others will appear to “fill” the lack or “solve” the problem or “assuage the pain” or “reinforce the pain . . . ”

All a dream. All  dust even now blowing away. Not even dust. Not even a dream.

Only this. Always only this.

It is not given us to fool God or argue with God or negotiate with God or even to deny God. Every image and idea and act which implies the contrary is not and never was real. We need only surrender to this simple fact, and then love and peace and joy will flow over us the way sunlight floods a landscape, allowing it to be seen by eyes that know how to see.

In you I speak
in you I hear.

Between silence
and what-silence-is-not,
I wait for you to join me.

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