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kmw108
kmw108


I don't usually post the work of other writers on the blog, but today I'm posting a guest column from my friend Eric Weinberg. Eric is a dharma friend and teacher in the Columbus Karma Thegsum Choling Prison Outreach Project, and he has written a lovely essay about Kenneth Biros, an Ohio Death Row inmate and dharma student of his. Read moreCollapse )
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kmw108
You've seen the noble family crests: swooping dragons, two-headed eagles, roaring lions, gilded knights on prancing steeds. But my husband's family has a very special coat of arms.




Most folks who drive on Ohio State Route 161 in Licking County have seen this abandoned homestead, emblazoned with a defiant to-hell-with-you message on the edge of the new westbound lanes. I shook my head, like others, and tisk-tisked, until my husband Mike told me, "You know, my cousin put that there."

It seems that one of his cousins had his land taken by the state for the freeway -- through that strange ironically titled method, "eminent domain." The lords of this particular realm had taken the land of this particular tax-serf, but he wasn't going quietly, without a fight.

He got out his paint can, and let the crimson letters fly.

I couldn't say that all of my husband's clan has this defiant streak, but I can sure say I've seen it leap out from behind a boulder from time to time. Mike's father once took a dislike to his neighbor and began taking pot shots across the property line with his .22 rifle. When the sheriff's department came calling, Pops almost became a statistic when he waved the gun in their direction and asked them, not so politely, what they were doing on his land.

It's a good thing (or perhaps bad thing, depending on how you look at it) that the county had just created a diversion program for first offenders; Pops got away with a year's probation for his little "get the gummint" stunt.

And now the cousin is branding his name in history with a placard drawn in a similar vein. That is, until the dag-blasted gummint men come to tear it down ...

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kmw108
Part of the fun of staying in different people's homes while on a dharma teaching tour is discovering the wealth of beauty and art in people's family homes. I loved seeing shakespeare on the door of this onetime teen girl's bedroom (thanks to the Dains for giving me an uplifting place to take a nap. Makes me wish I'd dreamt of the Bard....)

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kmw108


Wish I understood my fascination with carousels -- I have this incredibly fond memory of the carousel at the Columbus Zoo, where I took refuge while on a distressing high school trip (can't remember the drama, but I think it had to do with being demolished in a Dodge'm car - disloyalty always stings, no matter what one's age) and was rescued by the pulse of the band organ drum, and the comforting speed and freedom of the circular flight. I have also enjoyed the merry-go-rounds at Cedar Point, and rode the old 1912 Muller carousel endlessly on various visits. Since then, I've ridden them in St. Augustine (on the old tourist strip), and more recently in Santa Monica on the pier (after five visits in as many years, the machine was finally open and running -- I visualized Paul Newman there, filming that scene everyone is familiar with, from "The Sting"). The Santa Monica carousel was refurbished by The Carousel Works in Mansfield, where there's a beautiful new machine built right in the downtown -- I've ridden that one, too, while meditating on emptiness and appearances.

Sadly, many of the band organs have been replaced by recorded music -- not the same experience, as feeling the stutter of the drumbeat and the tambourines and cymbals is part of the allure.

In any case, a carousel is a moment of flight suspended in timelessness, where all is well and the painted horses go comfortingly up and down and you always end where you begin. Reassuring, in a world all too caught up in conflict and chaos ...

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Current Mood: wistful
Current Music: The band organ in my mind ...

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kmw108



Those who remember me as a mantra geek will delight in this quote from Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, who spoke it spontaneously last year while hosting His Holiness the 17th Karmapa at the Karme Ling Three-Year Retreat Center. His Holiness had just given the blessing transmission of the mantra of Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, when Khenpo Rinpoche, obviously filled with emotion, broke in and said these words:

Today you are actually seeing the true bodhisattva Chenrezik face to face, in human form. This means that from today, the certainty of your future liberation and omniscient buddhahood is absolute. Therefore, from today, resolve to recite the mantra om mani padme hum as much as you possibly can, continuously, without respite, without cease. Remember that each and every one of us is going to come to the day of our death. On that day, have the confidence that becauseof what has happened to you here today, there is no doubt that you will be reborn in Dewachen, the realm of Amitabha. With that confidence, remember that now, in seeing Chenrezik face to face in human form, you have really received everything you need. There is nothing better than this that can happen to us and there is nothing more that we need.
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, Karme Ling, May, 2008

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kmw108
Had to share this photo of a new iris with glistening dew in the garden at Karme Ling. Thoughts of summer to come...
photo.jpg

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kmw108






Hiking in the springtime on our area's award-winning bike path is a pleasure -- it's great to see the forest come to life, with wildflowers sprouting here and there as the tresses of mother Earth. While walking with my husband, I came upon a Jack-in-the-pulpit -- one of the most mysterious and intriguing plants of the spring (May apples are the other). I snapped a photo to compare to its lovely (and variegated) cousin, who pops his head up every spring among the Lilies of the Valley on the east side of my house. Somehow I love this little volunteer, and would frankly miss him if he didn't appear every spring. He's my connection to the forest, to the camping trips of my childhood, to the mystery of nature and continuous discovery ... and a handsome fellow he is!

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kmw108
Was remembering doggerel poems this evening from Walt Kelly, and recalled how exquisite it was to read "Pogo" comic strips and books in the 1960s. Such wit and razor-sharp commentary -- they'd probably order our little opossum friend to the Op-Ed pages these days, what with his author's grand tableaux of politics and war and peace and environmentalism out there with Churchy the turtle and Albert alligator and Miss Mam'selle Hepzibah out there in the Okefenokee Swamp.

My favorite nonsense rhyme struck me as wistful and sad, and for a while I had it memorized, along with Vladimir's final monologue from "Waiting for Godot" (I was such a strange child ....)

A song not for now
You need not put stay
The tune for the was
Can be sung for today
The notes of the does not
Will sound as the does
Today you can sing for the will be that was.

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Current Music: first evening of air-conditioning

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kmw108
.... And I wanted to share this one from my friend Ben Koch from Dallas. He edits the online zine bensTEN, and is one of the most talented poets I know. I used to write a lot of poetry, but I no longer have the discipline; reading good poetry takes me to another place, like a good jazz solo, and drops me back again at the place where I began -- the same, but somehow different ...

Pajama Day

If by mandatory law
we wore what we slept
in some random day, say
April 17-prevented by
legislation even touching
a comb, at most sliding
on some slippers in a haze-
simply walking the world in dream
armor, frizzle-headed sleep-
crusted and wrinkled by the
friction of sheets: which of us

would cower slinkishly
like shell-less turtles, which would prance
like shame-less show dogs,
and this-

how would we choose the
beautiful?

- Ben Koch

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kmw108
Back from India, and enjoying the photos that are being posted by others around the world in commemoration of the Mahamudra retreat at Sherabling.

Here's a photo from the Palpung website, showing His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche at Sherabling coming out of retreat on March 31. That's me in the background.

It was such a "kismet" kind of situation -- I had wandered back to the monastery after breakfast; it was around 8:30 a.m. when I came into the courtyard and found the gigantic "thangka" print laid out on the paving stones.

As I mentioned that week in a Twitter post, I love walking the quiet, darkened hallway that is the "inner khora" of the main temple; one feels sequestered and alone with the temple and its images, but with occasional glimpses of the courtyard as one circumambulates. I'd gone up to this second-floor level at 8:30, but seeing the film crews and the monk with the boom microphone, I knew something was going to happen.

The Chinese students were bunched up at one corner, and when I saw them suddenly running with white scarves cascading to and fro, I knew His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche was coming. It was the day for him to come out of a month's retreat, and everyone was eager to see him.

My companion Susan (in previous photos, the blonde lady) had a white scarf, but I had none, however, I got into the receiving line just the same and got a handshake :-) Then, like one of the lovely birds that hang around the monastery courtyard, I sat back and watched as His Eminence took off his shoes, walked on the "painting" and took the red pencil given to him by the artist so that he could correct and smooth out the lines on the face of Guru Rinpoche, the main figure in the thangka.

It was a delightful morning -- just me, the Chinese people, the monks, the artists and film crew and my delight in being in such a magical spiritual place.

http://www.palpung.org/newspage/pice.asp?thereleasedate=2009040201

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