I am ashamed. But not paralyzed.

I owe a lot to many black people. In the last century, the one I grew up in, some of the greatest writers, activists and leaders, political, artistic and religious, came up against the odds and made us better as a species. Made me a better person.

It hurts to learn how black people have suffered and continue to suffer in ways I can barely comprehend.

Sure I had my troubles, I had to learn to swim hard but it wasn’t always against the current day after day. And I was so ignorant that at times I thought myself better, stronger and braver than I really was. I really was not aware how my white skin was the current carrying me.

So it hurts and some of that hurt is shame.

And that’s okay. Being ashamed of privilege is point of attention. As humans we should always be thankful for these reminders to pay attention.

It’s how we learn to live in a world worth living in.

Awareness is always an opportunity. When you see this you can see that it is continually arising As Your Life.

And all fabrications will wear out.
There is no separation between self and other that is not a fabrication. All separation is a lie, a covering, an obscuring of the essential truth.

So what are we humans to do?

Don’t hide in a comfy nest of made up stories of us and them. Answer all suffering with compassion and continue to practice. Do what ever you can when you see an opportunity to end suffering.

Easy huh?

This is the Last Day of April is Poetry Month!

I sat “virtually” with the sangha last night. It’s becoming a regular Wednesday night   thing with the Oak tree in the Garden.

A “sangha” is a gathering of Zen practitioners.

I am finding myself slipping in to some very dark places, and not the actual ones that  I should, like the one under the stairs that could use some cleaning and reorganizing. Instead I am slipping into a place where I get lost in thoughts that propagate really paralyzing inertia and despair.

It is good to commit to practicing with others. I doesn’t matter the context. The important thing is to just sit practicing Zazen.  Which is the context of ‘NO CONTEXT’, (forget about getting your intellect around that!)

I’ve done a lot of sitting lately, lounging actually.

But sitting Zazen we gradually gain (or regain, again and again) the ability to see thoughts arise and dissipate.  We learn how to return to this breath and this moment.

And you can also clean out the space under the stairs this way, although, dust bunnies, spiders…that homemade mask is going to come in handy.

Here is one last poem for the month, rewritten.

Sadness Haiku

Awakening
the jeweled dew glistens
in the morning light.dew-on-grass-janet-rockburn

 

 

I am hopeful that what I am seeing is a good response

I wrote the following in response to a friends utter despair over the lack of concern for the plight of Syrian refugees before this Covid19 shook the world.

Now, more than anything, I am glad to see that we are voluntarily self-isolating, and socially distancing–lessening the impact of this virus. And more than this, we are doing it with humour and love for one another.

It is a good sign. I hope too that it registers in the hearts and minds of us all that we are capable of more than we think. That not being self centered and selfish can actually change life for the better, even giving rise to real economic activity. The sort of economic activity generated by working to protect the well-being of all beings instead of just inflating imaginary numbers for the benefit of despots. Anyway, my friend just reminded me of this conversation recently and I post it here.

M:  Here. These are some of our fellow humans. Their displacement has been enabled by our collective unwillingness to confront Assad’s Atrocity, Russia and Iran’s regional aspirations, the USA’s famed proclivity towards abandoning its allies, and Turkey’s Machiavellian maneuverings. It has been enabled by Fortress Europe. And it has been enabled by our utter global lack of outrage, which has given tacit permission for the Atrocity to continue, for nearly ten years, in the face of incontrovertible proof of war crimes by a variety of parties.

M:This is Orwell’s moment: surveillance, disappearances, detentions, torture, cluster bombs, the use of prohibited weapons (including gas), against civilian populations, the targeting of hospitals and first responders and medical personnel and doctors, perpetual war, all tools of Big Brother. Power for its own sake, twisting and shifting, old enemies becoming friends, old friends betrayed. Newspeak scribbling over the most well-documented betrayal of a people in history.

And we have responded with, “Do it to Julia. Not me.” The rats are coming for you all.

Rio: I think I read or heard that Hitler was emboldened by Europe’s lack of response to the genocide of Armenians, so much so that he said, no one will care if we get rid of the Jews…it is normal again to turn a blind eye. Have no doubt that there are Evil minds watching and waiting to put that into play for their hateful advantage in your own countries people. But going further, it was also considered that the grinding debt forced on Germans by their enemies for the ridiculous hubris of blue bloods, namely the first world war, created the the dish of slop in which Fascism grew…So, in my opinion, the only way forward and off this wheel of pain is to focus on stability, moderation and a preparedness to sacrifice for the benefit of our neighbours, even if they might be inclined to hate us or take advantage, to care for the weak and have that care entrenched in law. Here and now in Canada.

I am guardedly hopeful.

Doing the Next Thing

I am in that weird place in life when I have lots of time to just observe things. I see when the wheel on the wagon is wobbling but it’s not my wagon.

Not any of it is my wagon.

I just try to appreciate every moment and applaud every success. “Yay!”

Crazy people, cruelty and all the other painful things humans can perpetuate on each other, hatred, confusion, obscuring the way forward; It is a crazy time. Maybe it is always a crazy time.

I find zazen, sitting staring at a blank wall excruciating, but preferable to action often because I don’t know what I can do in the face of so much suffering. I know I am probably getting my practice completely wrong. I imagine Bodhisattva cringing. I remember teachers telling me not to talk about my practice outside the Dokusan room…

The other day the bus was so full the driver told us to try to get on at the back door. It looked impossible and I was the last in line. All these backs towards me, every shade of skin a human can possess represented before me, me, covered in liver spots and freckles. For the doors to close, fat, thin, male, female, shy, brazen, tall, short, young, old, we had to smoosh together.

“Well, we are all good friends now!” Laughter and smiles, people looking over their shoulders at me in the crush, somehow making room for me where there was none.

That was enough.

It is never a personal Titanic on which we arrange the deck chairs.

Tattoo: “Born Looser”, typical, sheesh

I once saw a cartoon with a very chest fallen man getting a tattoo. You can see that it is just being finished and there is the common mistake, “looser” instead of “loser” and the tattoo artist is saying, “Oh, geez, sorry man!” and the sad is saying, “Naw, doesn’t matter…”

I used to write long and what I considered heart-felt and thoughtful letters by hand to a friend who moved far away. When I finally got a letter back he said, “it is really annoying how you always write ‘really’ with only one ‘l'”.  In my defense, it was before personal computers and GOOGLE.

So now I have no excuse.

I just re-read my last blog post.

I apologize to everyone who’s eyes bleed when they see such glaring mistakes!

I am feeling blue

Okay so i finally met a doctor who has seen what i had, once. It is fairly rare and usually happens as a complication of something else like blood thinners or surgery but it can also happen for no apparent reason. It is called a rectus sheath hematoma and you can google it.

I guess i had a #2 cause they told me 2 to 4 months recovery. (14 cm x 7 cm bleed) No bike riding.  Rest and iron pills and maybe cold compresses and Tylenol. Yay summertime is ruined, again.
I will see a surgeon in August to discuss if anything needs to be done, probably not. “The good news in your case is it probably was just bad luck.” So much for those lucky socks i got for xmas.

Shame

I don’t want to think about it,
manage mostly to forget and,
besides,
nobody else knows.
I look good enough, I smile and I’m fine.
You know I always prefer clothes with pockets and
when i get nervous, well,
I hide my hands.
And there it is,
my fingers slip around it
dried to a hard stone
and soon I’m dissolving in shame
enough to rehydrate a desert.
But you say
that’s just me being dramatic.
You’re fine too.
This was never your heart.