My friend, John Small, is a superb photographer and Buddhist practitioner. And, lucky bastard, he's now in Japan for four weeks, from where he's started posting images on his photo blog. Check 'em out.
I frequently come across blog posts that argue for one particular viewpoint in opposition to others. In fact, I've been known to write quite a few posts of this type (as some of you have kindly pointed out).
I notice (after the fact) how I can write an oppositional post without the faintest consciousness about it. My mind seems stuck in certain ruts, especially the rut of certainty.
Pali has term for this kind of stuckness, a term that originally referred to a cart axle that had rusted or frozen to its wheel: dukkha.
It seems reasonable to assume that whenever the impulse to argue appears, we're stuck in dukkha.
Or maybe that's just my way of picking a fight. Anyway, here we are. Let's stop arguing.
I recently made the online acquaintance of Ben Howard, a well-regarded poet and fellow blogger. Ben's posts come sparingly but each one reveals and explores an important aspect of our practice tradition.
Last week, he posted a wonderful essay, Closing Doors, on the transitional moments of life, and how we might work with them. The post contains these beautiful lines from a poem entitled, "Men At Forty," by Donald Justice.
Men at forty
Learn to close softly
The doors to rooms
They will not be coming back to
Of course, none of us - at any age - will ever return to the moment just now passing. How can we complete this moment softly?
Today's video features Zen Master Seung Sahn giving an encouraging talk to retreat participants during the last year of his life (2003). At this point, his teaching had become very clear and simple: Just do it!
Thank you for reading Ox Herding. May we all just do it this weekend!
A few days ago I came upon a man walking two dogs.
Actually, the fellow was walking only one dog . . . the other, a German Shepherd, was rolling along on wheels.
The shepherd probably has hip dysplasia, an inherited condition common to shepherds. The man had created (or purchased?) a set of wheels that were harnessed to the dog's hips. Using this device, the dog walked normally on its front legs, while its back legs shuffled along the sidewalk.
As you can see in the photo, the shepherd was quite happy with this arrangement, totally relaxed and at ease in the world.
Walking along behind this group, I remembered Zen Master Seung Sahn's frequent teaching: "Dog understands dog's job. Pig understands pig's job. Only human being not understand human being's job."
The shepherd didn't check its situation or condition - it happily went about its doggie job. And its human companion certainly understood how to help his canine friend.
But I wonder why so many of us humans remain confused about our own correct job?