Tag Archives: interconnectedness

The long journey out of the self…

Today David over at The Endless Further has a wonderful post up about the magic found in poetry, please check it out if you have the chance.

image of Roethke sourced from jungcurrents.com

It got me thinking about one of my favorite poets, Theodore Roethke, whom I haven’t dealt much with in years. Roethke is from my hometown of Saginaw, MI, and there are places he mentions in his poetry that were literally my old stomping grounds:

Out Hemlock Way there is a stream
That some have called Swan Creek;
The turtles have bloodsucker sores,
And mossy filthy feet;
The bottoms of migrating ducks
Come off it much less neat.

I used to dig in Swan Creek for golf balls to sell to golfers at the nearby hole-in-the-wall course. My father went through the ice of the creek as a youth while snowmobiling. It is a beautiful yet unassuming body of water. It really is just a creek. Creek creeks creek.

Upon digging around for some of my favorite works of his, I ran across the following two gems, and couldn’t help but be struck by the similarity to some of the old Chinese Ch’an masters works. The first poem is titled Journey into the Interior

In the long journey out of the self,
There are many detours, washed-out interrupted raw places
Where the shale slides dangerously
And the back wheels hang almost over the edge
At the sudden veering, the moment of turning.
Better to hug close, wary of rubble and falling stones.
The arroyo cracking the road, the wind-bitten buttes, the canyons,
Creeks swollen in midsummer from the flash-flood roaring into the narrow valley.
Reeds beaten flat by wind and rain,
Grey from the long winter, burnt at the base in late summer.
— Or the path narrowing,
Winding upward toward the stream with its sharp stones,
The upland of alder and birchtrees,
Through the swamp alive with quicksand,
The way blocked at last by a fallen fir-tree,
The thickets darkening,
The ravines ugly.
The first thing that jumps out is right there in the first line, “journey out of the self”. The rest of the poem goes on to describe the traps and hazards our phenomenal mind throws at us in our attempt to escape its binding reach.
 
Another that I stumbled upon was In a Dark Time:
 
In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood–
A lord of nature weeping to a tree,
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.
What’s madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall,
That place among the rocks–is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is–
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark,dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

To me, this is all about finding the true self, making sense of the observer watching the observer phenomenon, feeling trapped that there is no hope, no way of getting to the Source.

Roethke suffered from depression not long into his life, fueled by the tragic deaths of his uncle and father that both occurred when he was 15. This colored many of his later works, though it is for his lighter, “greenhouse” poems that he is more well-known. These poems revolve around his direct experience and contact with nature and the beauty he found growing up around his uncle’s greenhouse in Saginaw (only a couple of miles from my childhood home). At the young age of 55, Roethke died of a heart attack in a swimming pool on Bainbridge Island, here in Washington. According to wiki the pool has since been covered and a Zen rock garden has apparently been placed on top. His remains are a stone’s throw from many of my great-grandparents and their siblings.

I’m not claiming that Roethke was Zen, or a Buddhist or anything of the sort. If anything he seemed to be a sort of pantheist or transcendentalist or something of that sort. But the problems that he digs at are universal, and strike at the heart of Zen. His desire to find pure Mind and make sense of it all mirrors the path of the 10 Ox Herding images well.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the magic that Roethke helped bring to the world. Cheers.

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Blog Action Day – Climate Change

So Blogger has this “Blog Action Day” thing going on, where they want as many bloggers as possible to blog on the same day about the same topic – the climate crisis. So, here we go…….

 The Science behind climate change is sound. We are currently screwing up the planet. If you doubt this, read some Scientific articles (the peer reviewed really boring stuff, not just someone’s commentary) and make your own decision based on the evidence. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s move on.

 When making beer, there are a number of factors to keep in mind. Let’s start with the recipe. The Amber Ale I just bottled was a pretty straight forward recipe. But you have to know how the different ingredients are going to interact when formulating the recipe, or you’ll end up with a palate full of mess. Too complex, and all the flavors will be muddled and unappealing. Too simple, and you’ll end up with a flat beer that isn’t worth it’s weight in mud. So my grain bill was a little on the complex side, but the flavors mixed well, and none of the grains were overwhelming. They provided just the right flavor along with the maltiness of the extract to achieve a flavorfull and balanced mouth feel and flavor. When adding the hops, I had to be careful not to add to much at the beginning, or the bitterness would have overpowered the fruity and malty flavors. Too little, and it would have been flat, malty, and unbalanced.

 Next, there are a number of precautions one must take. If you let the grains get too hot, you’ll have astringent beer. If you don’t sanitize your equipment properly, you could contaminate your beer and you’ll end up with 5 gallons of crap. Same thing if you slosh the fermenting wort around after the yeast is pitched. And if you fill your bottles too low or too high, the carbonation will be off, which could also ruin your beer. “Adam – this was supposed to be about the climate crisis, not beer.” – I’m getting to it.

 So, what’s the common theme here? Balance. In every step of the process, care must be taken to maintain a proper level of balance. Too much or too little of any one thing or process will ruin the entire batch. It happens to all of us from time to time. Which is why mindfulness is so important when going through the brewing process. When one can achieve the proper state of mind, one can give full attention to the task at hand and brew quality beer.

 The same focus needs to be directed toward the climate crisis. You’ll see a lot of the global warming skeptics talk about how water vapor is the leading cause of global warming, and that man isn’t the culprit. But they fail to realize that it is through our actions that we have raised the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere, which leads to an increase in water vapor, which increases the temperature, which leads to more water vapor…… get the picture? We’ve unbalanced the delicate dance that the earth’s climate has been waltzing for thousands of years.

 And it’s not just our “carbon emissions” either. It’s our deforestation. It’s our dumping millions of gallons of chemicals into our lakes and oceans from runoff and sewage. Here in the Puget Sound, a few days after Thanksgiving there is noticeable amounts of vanilla and other spices in the water due to all the pumpkin pie and other holiday foods that are produced. So yes, what you eat and clean your home with does have an effect on the environment.

 In Buddhism, we learn that we are all interconnected. It’s a core teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha. And not just the “we are the world” type of connected. When you pour Drano down the sink and flush it into the ocean, you’re flushing it into yourself. You’re flushing it into your grandmother, your dog, your unborn child. When you drive the 5 blocks to the Post Office in your Hummer rather than walk, you’re polluting your own air, your family’s air, the air in Yellowstone. Your actions have far-reaching effects. Knowing this, will you change your mind about the way you act in this world?

 This is why I believe the teachings of the Buddha are so vitally important to humanity. When we are able to fully realize our interconnectedness, will we continue to devour this planet, realizing that we are really devouring ourselves? How could we?

 I encourage you to change your way of thinking. I encourage you to look at how unbalanced your actions are. I’m trying to do the same, succeeding and failing every day. Think about the products you buy. How were they sourced? What ingredients/components were used? What will you do with it when you are finished with it? Do you really need a GMC Yukon, or could you get along just fine with a more efficient Prius or Suburu or smaller SUV? Why not use a CFL bulb, or reuseable grocery bag? Could your company do more confrencing on the web rather than fly people across the country?

 The time for talk is over. Action is the only solution to the problems we’ve created. There are a million resources out there for living a “greener” life. Just be wary of the ones that are only trying to cash in on your good intentions. If Al Gore really cared about more than just making a buck, he’d have covered his costs on the movie and invested in wind power with the rest of the cash. And he’d have found alternative packaging for it. While the message was right, the delivery was simply terrible. But I digress.

 This was the Home Brew Dharma take on the Climate Crisis/environmental issues. I’m sure I’ll blog more about it, as it is a very important topic, especially as it deals with interconnectedness. But that’s my contribution to the Blog Action Day, and I hope I at least made you pause to consider your actions and intentions. Cheers.

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