THIS WEEK'S BLOG

Eihei Dogen
Dogen

Life and Death Do Not Exist

In this short chapter from the Shobogenzo, Sho-ji, Dogen plays with the distinction between the nuances of the two different meanings, life and death being static and self-defined events, which he argues have no substance or existence, and living and dying which are an endless flow of events and dynamic being

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Robert Miner

Robert Miner – Flying Kites at Night

A moment of transcendence is captured by Robert Miner in this short and evocative poem inspired by the sight of a group of students flying kites on a quad. The movement from the earth to the sky and the devotional missive of the kites being sent up and disappearing into the darkness come together like a silent prayer or a whispered exchange between mortals and the infinite.

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Erich Von Hungen

Erich von Hungen – The Moment

The pinpoint perspective of the present moment can feel so sharp but ultimately always impossible to fathom and out of our reach. As Erich von Hungen writes, it is simultaneously hard and soft, early and late, tiny and all-encompassing ‘like a pocket-sized Big Bang.’

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FEATURED AUTHORS AND POETS

BOOK EXCERPTS

Sam Harris

What Are We Calling “I”?

We often identify ourselves with the events that have happened to us and the things we have done, rather than the subjective center of experience itself. In an echo of the Buddhist teaching of the absence of a permanent self, Harris asserts that when the absence of this self is found, then ‘the feeling of being a self disappears.’

Read More »

Life and Death Do Not Exist

In this short chapter from the Shobogenzo, Sho-ji, Dogen plays with the distinction between the nuances of the two different meanings, life and death being static and self-defined events, which he argues have no substance or existence, and living and dying which are an endless flow of events and dynamic being

Read More »

Bankei and the Unborn

17th century Zen master Bankei on the Unborn, the unconditioned mind that comes up spontaneously and is fundamental to every person, without exception.

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THE ALAN WATTS CORNER

Caroline Goodwin

Why I Write – Caroline Goodwin

Writing can be anything, from self-discovery to incorporating pain to establishing direction, according to poet Caroline Goodwin, who featured in The Dewdrop a couple of weeks ago with her poem, Not I’ll Not, from her book, Custody of the Eyes. 

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Zen Tree

FROM THE ZEN GARDEN

Am I Conscious Now?

“What does it mean to ask a question? Is there some magic in the inquisitive brain?” Susan Blackmore’s lifelong investigation into consciousness encompasses Zen practice and the recurring question: Am I conscious now?

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Chiyono’s Enlightenment Poem

Adachi Chiyono (also known as Mugai Nyodai) was the daughter of a samurai warrior in the 13th century who became the first woman – and mother – to found and head a Zen monastery in Japan.

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KEEP READING

FROM THE ARCHIVES

What Have You Left Out? Alan Watts on the Limits of Perception

Alan Watts often said that in order to come to your senses, you have to get out of your mind. Watts was emphatic about self-realization and breaking through cultural and psychic barriers in order to live as a fully-fledged, fearless human being.

Religion Without Science is Blind (Part 2)

Einstein goes on to explore definitions of science and religion and sees no fundamental conflict between them, except for when each try to encroach on the other’s territory: science can only claim what is and not what should be, and religion can have no declaration of fact.

Sheila Heti – When Love Slips into the Death Drive

Sheila Heti’s novel ‘How Should a Person Be?’ asks that candid and naive question with honesty, humor and sincerity. During the course of the book, she especially looks at love and all its difficulties, and in this passage she talks about the kind of obsessive sexual love that pushes us over cliffs and into the death drive, that longs for ‘annihilation, comfort and death’.

E.E. Cummings – A Poet’s Advice to Students

E.E. Cummings’ short missive to young poets in which he urges confidence in oneself and authentic expression. We must distinguish between thinking, believing, knowing and feeling, the latter being the territory of real art and poetry.

Eihei Dogen

Life and Death Do Not Exist

In this short chapter from the Shobogenzo, Sho-ji, Dogen plays with the distinction between the nuances of the two different meanings, life and death being static and self-defined events, which he argues have no substance or existence, and living and dying which are an endless flow of events and dynamic being

Read More »
Robert Miner

Robert Miner – Flying Kites at Night

A moment of transcendence is captured by Robert Miner in this short and evocative poem inspired by the sight of a group of students flying kites on a quad. The movement from the earth to the sky and the devotional missive of the kites being sent up and disappearing into the darkness come together like a silent prayer or a whispered exchange between mortals and the infinite.

Read More »
Erich Von Hungen

Erich von Hungen – The Moment

The pinpoint perspective of the present moment can feel so sharp but ultimately always impossible to fathom and out of our reach. As Erich von Hungen writes, it is simultaneously hard and soft, early and late, tiny and all-encompassing ‘like a pocket-sized Big Bang.’

Read More »
Beck

Beck – Everlasting Nothing

Everlasting Nothing is the final track on singer/songwriter Beck’s album Hyperspace. It describes a series of experiences with an unreal bent in which there is a continuous push to ‘get back home’.

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Sam Harris

What Are We Calling “I”?

We often identify ourselves with the events that have happened to us and the things we have done, rather than the subjective center of experience itself. In an echo of the Buddhist teaching of the absence of a permanent self, Harris asserts that when the absence of this self is found, then ‘the feeling of being a self disappears.’

Read More »
Jerome Berglund

Jerome Berglund – Manure

Jerome Berglund’s poem, Manure, grew from his own practice of sowing and harvesting where he was reminded that compost and dung are always essential to the process of growth and fertilization.

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Holly Kelso

Holly Kelso – Suspended

Holly Kelso’s Suspended takes place in the space of a pause, walks during a period of isolation near the poet’s home at the base of a mountain, and at the edge of both a desert and a lake.

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Joan Lauri Poole

Joan Lauri Poole – Why, Miró

Mesmerized by Miró’s ability to metamorphose the external world into something wholly his own, something human and not, Joan Lauri Poole’s poetic tribute to the painter details her own revelation of his work.

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Alice Walker

Alice Walker – Be Nobody’s Darling

In an echo of the defiance of Wendell Berry’s ‘Do Not Be Ashamed’, Alice Walker draws up the image of an outcast to underline the importance of tenaciousness and standing one’s ground in the midst of madness.

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A Fool’s Folly: Tales from the One Hundred Parable Sutra

The One Hundred Parable Sutra is a compilation of parables used by the Buddha to demonstrate the principles of dharma to laymen and people unfamiliar with his teachings. The short, humorous stories follow the ill-fortunes of the foolish who continue in their folly to the amusement or disbelief of the people around them.

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Simone Weil

Simone Weil – The Infinite in an Instant

Simone Weil lauds ‘unmixed attention’, which she likens to prayer, and reflects on the quality of attention, expressed as ‘patience, effort and method’ to ‘understand with our whole self the truths which are evident.’

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Osip Mandelstam

Osip Mandelstam – And I Was Alive

Osip Mandelstam spent many years of his life being persecuted for the views he held and the work he made. ‘And I Was Once Alive’ was one of the last poems he wrote before his death from heart failure in a transfer camp.

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Vivekananda

The One Motive Power in the Universe

In this extract from an essay about bhakti and devotional love written in the late 19th century, Swami Vivekananda – the 19th century spiritual reformist and teacher of Vedanta who was instrumental in popularizing Hinduism and yoga in the west – makes the difference between empty religious ritual and the burning desire for union with God, which is as real as any hunger or thirst.

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