(56) LIVING HERE: As It Happens, and Other Issues

August 10, 2017 | | Comments 0

Eyes that want, search in darkness.
Open the curtains, let in a little light,
Everything wrong doesn’t have to be right.


An astute commentator (Carina Chocono, NYT) suggested the following, and I’m going to copy and paste it here: “He’s in hell, basically, basting in his own issues.”

Now that’s a quote about a politician; but the weight of what was said takes on added implications when we expand the “he” to include “we” thusly:
“We’re in hell, basically, basting in our own issues.”

Could it be that, in part, our media-head versions of reality are driving much – and perhaps most – of our contemporary American experience? We’re not just feeling overwhelmed, we are overwhelmed, kinda like New Orleans with floodwaters and stressed pumps. So it’s increasingly important for each of us to find that higher, dryer and level ground on which to stand. Indeed, that may be what’s happening these days, personally, collectively, nationally and globally.

Perhaps now as always, what is being called for is for us to reflect on our own inner issues with reality; to respect and release our issues like they’re hot coals; to see and embrace lovingly, whatever happens, because it’s happening – with, or without, our resistance.

In an appropriate response to times like these, it may help each and all of us to look under, beneath and behind the “issues” to listen to what’s actually being said, as we might with a friend; to ponder things a little, to wonder if perhaps we need to reorient toward something more universally sustainable – environmentally of course, but also physically, psychologically, politically, spiritually. Actually.


I’d like to tell you a little story our old friend Dogen told me this morning as I sat by the window with a cup of Dragonwell and his book – an old 1985 San Francisco Zen Center translation I just discovered bought and buried deep inside my bookcase. It’s about the wisdom of non-interference. It’s called “Moon in a dewdrop”… Writings of Zen Master Dogen” and it goes like this:

“Long ago a monk asked an old master, “When hundreds, thousands, or myriads of objects come all at once, what should be done?”
The master replied, “Don’t try to control them”

What he means is that in whatever way objects come, do not try to change them. Whatever comes is the Buddha-dharma (life, happening) not objects at all…do not understand the masters reply as merely a brilliant admonition, but realize it is the truth. Even if you try to control what comes, it cannot be controlled. “

It’s useful to understand that aligning with reality involves not so much doing as not doing. To cease from all doing. With a little less doing, and a lot more inner peace and quiet, good things will get done. By spirit, god, the prime doer – love. In these complicated times, what we are asked and urged and perhaps pushed to do, comes from the universal goodness of our one, indivisible, self nature. We can serve this moment only, with our recognition of, and loving attention to, whatever is actually, factually, happening, here and now.


At bottom, living “on the level” is about surrendering to what is; it’s about balancing and an engaged dancing with reality as it presents itself. It’s about living in the real world. We delight, indeed we bast, in the rythmic revelations of beauty and goodness.

We allow life to astonish us. And it does. 🙂

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