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I Think You May Be Missing the Point

Some years ago I was cycling through a SE Asian country with a small group and stopped at a rural monastery. A local guide we were riding with told us that the temple there was well-known for a Buddhist monk that many years before had died but whose body had not decomposed after death. In fact, he looked just as fresh as the day he died, and the flower petals that had been sprinkled upon his body at death had likewise remained fresh and fragrant to the present.

Intrigued, we asked if it were possible to see the body of the deceased monk.

“Of course,” the guide replied, and led us to a temple structure where we removed our shoes before entering.

Inside, the walls were adorned with beautiful carvings and paintings. At the back sat an elderly monk, meditating in lotus position. He was as still as death, and yet his eyes seemed to penetrate us when we crossed the beam of their gaze. In the center on the small temple was a glass case on a dais, and within rested the deceased monk.

Stealing up to the case with some awkward reverence and nervousness, the group looked in on the body silently. Fresh flower petals indeed garnished the orange-garbed monk’s corpse as he lay still on his back, hands folded over his belly.

After a time, each of us slipped back outside and replaced our shoes in silence. After a time, a few began to speak.

“Do you think it was real?”

“He did look good for so long dead…”

“Could those flowers really be..?”

Seeing the local guide nearby, I drew him aside and spoke.

“Hey… that monk is as dead as any other. Well-preserved, maybe, but dead just the same… he doesn’t look as fresh as the day he died.”

“Yes,” the guide said, motioning for me to speak quietly. “Of course. And the flowers are replaced daily.”

“Then, why..?” I asked.

“It is not easy to see through delusion,” he replied. “But a good joke is still the best way.”

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This Dance of Life

 

Though the health benefits of gyrating along with others have been well-documented,

I went to a college where, at the time, “most forms of social dancing” were prohibited;

Perhaps for the reason that one of the greatest dangers of dancing

Is that it makes it very difficult to think.

And thinking, of course,

Is a great security.

 

If your students stop thinking for a hot minute,

It’s very likely they will instead begin to experience,

And in real time,

For themselves.

And if they’re out there dancing with life 

Instead of securing themselves against it,

There comes a very real threat to the security of something else.

 

 

Fiddler Jones by Edgar Lee Masters

The earth keeps some vibration going
There in your heart, and that is you.
And if the people find you can fiddle,
Why, fiddle you must, for all your life.
What do you see, a harvest of clover?
Or a meadow to walk through to the river?
The wind’s in the corn; you rub your hands
For beeves hereafter ready for market;
Or else you hear the rustle of skirts
Like the girls when dancing at Little Grove.
To Cooney Potter a pillar of dust
Or whirling leaves meant ruinous drouth;
They looked to me like Red-Head Sammy
Stepping it off, to “Toor-a-Loor.”
How could I till my forty acres
Not to speak of getting more,
With a medley of horns, bassoons and piccolos
Stirred in my brain by crows and robins
And the creak of a wind-mill–only these?
And I never started to plow in my life
That some one did not stop in the road
And take me away to a dance or picnic.
I ended up with forty acres;
I ended up with a broken fiddle–
And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories,
And not a single regret.

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E-Koans

 

If you don’t attend a monastery,

And have no access to a master,

Thereby no koans to test your attainment…

 

…Try Quora, grasshoppah!

 

Here are some lovely Quoans:

 

Are humans and animals the same?

What does it mean to dream about someone asking for help?

and

What does trivago mean?

 

My own answers to Quorites are here.

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Rebalancing Freedom vs. Attachment

When the child was a child,
It played with enthusiasm,
and, now, has just as much excitement as then,
but only when it concerns its work.from Song of Childhood, by Peter Handke

When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” – Matthew 8:18-22

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. John 3:8

 

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Crossing The Threshhold

All art is made in the moment;

And all that is made in the moment is art.

 

 

 

The secret to performance is no secret at all;

But instead what remains when there are no secrets remaining.

 

 

 

During my final year of graduate actor training at the University of Delaware’s former Professional Theatre Training Program, I took up brush and ink painting. During rehearsals, when not acting, I would quickly paint scenes from the production I was part of on cold-press watercolor paper no larger than a postcard.

Of the many hundreds of sketch-paintings I did, there were only two that painted themselves.

These two remain sacred to me, and reminders of the gateway before which I stood many times… never crossing the threshhold fully, though poking my head through unknowingly from time to time.