This little place in South East Portland has been such a refuge in the last few months. It's called "Chance of Rain Cafe." It's one of those places that is it's own place, leaving everything else to go on outside. The moment you step in through the big bay door, you are surrounded by welcome. There are young families here, playing scrabble over coffee, students checking their e-mails on the communal computers. An old hound dog sleeps in the door way. You have to step over; he doesn't move.
Jim is a refuge for me, too. He's there with simple wisdom and compassion when I get too dramatic about "what's going on." The buddhists tell us to "take refuge." And that wisdom, like so much of what they say, turns out to have layers. There is refuge all around.
It is just a matter of putting your attention there, instead of somewhere else. I fail at this regularly, and from that draw proof that I am as yet unfinished. Yay! Adventure awaits, kicks will be had. Bob
The blinding heat of summer has shifted just a notch, allowing winds to cool... Something elemental and magical holds sway this time of year, as the earth tells us of Approaching winter, and chipmunks compete with squirrels for food.
The trick now is to take this sacred space within, this vaulted cathedral of peace Out into the world at large, and vow to be the last one standing if need be, Beseeching all the wise ones to help dispel Mara, although we smile to her in Understanding.
My cat-friend Woody is on his way off the mortal coil. He is slowly losing weight, and is not grooming like he once did, having always been fastidious, and sophisticated. Although gaunt, he still is very vocal, and talks to me as always. Several years ago I noticed that even when his bowl was full and all was well, he still mewed; I finally realized that he was craving love, not food. He taught me to get out of logistics and into the compassion of the moment. He still does this, and has been a friend and teacher for 17 years. If only we could be the people our pets think we are.
It's so beautiful here right now. I'm in a little internet cafe, sitting inside but next to a huge garge door that faces West. It's almost six pm here and so the sun is beginning its glide down to the end of the day. There is a patch of sunshine on the floor, sneaking up on my computer screen. Soon, it will be too sunny to see my writing.
A few feet away, two young women are discussing their boyfriends in lilting Spainsh. The beer is hand-made, very floral. This morning, we climbed on native basalt, working cracks and fissures with fingertips and toes. Even now, my fingers are raw, my shoulders aching.
I've been reading some books lately "for work" that discuss the new concept of neuroplasticity, the idea that you can change the structure of you brain with focused attention. Guess what the main tool of change is? Mindfulness. The authors are careful to say, over and over, "this is not Buddhism" and "you don't have to be Buddhist" to make this work. But they are advising the same thing the Buddha did, 2500 years ago:
Sit quietly, put all of your pain into the vast, empty sky of mind.
Playing the singing bowl is instant samadhi..open to all, like tonglen, like the breath.. Walking Pine Mt. thinking of Han Shan,watching muscadine, mt. laurel and moss, Fecund and vibrating in hot, Georgia sun of late morning...
Reaching summit and pause to gaze at the corridor of I-75, asphalt anaconda booms all the way To Michigan...from red clay to Great Lakes, and sanitized for our use..
Pausing to ask the Buddha for guidance, and thinking of not-thinking, so void is kissed gently..