Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Meeting On The Curve

Meet me on the curve, where the rainbow, sky, and pure aspirations sing.  We can make beautiful music together, watching the colors fade and brighten as the rain passes by our tipped hats in the morning sun.

If you can smash through a single thought,
Then all deluded thinking will suddenly be stripped off.
You will feel
Like a flower in the sky that casts no shadows,
Like a bright sun emitting boundless light,
Like a limpid pond, transparent and clear.
After experiencing this,
There will be immeasurable feelings of light and ease,
And a sense of liberation.
There is nothing marvelous or extraordinary about it.
Do not rejoice and wallow in this ravishing experience.
If you do, then the Mara of Joy will possess you.
-   Han Shan Te'-Ch'ing, 1600

Posted by michael

Monday, December 27, 2010

Marsh Calligraphy

No form, form, metaphor, meaning;  the marsh is filled with calligraphy.  Sky, tule, breeze, water, and the writing is on the mirror.  Ever changing, like pages turned in a book, we can read the meaning in the mind's eye.  Struggling too much will cause the meaning to flee and we are left with an impression, like wings moving through the air, leaving no trail.  This meaning of marsh writing is just like the daylight that pushes back darkness all at once.  Where does the dark go?  The writing speaks volumes.

Posted by michael

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Bobcat Mind

Look upon the body as unreal,
an image in a mirror,
the reflection of the moon in water.
Contemplate the mind as formless,
yet bright and pure.

Not a single thought arising,
empty, yet perceptive;
still, yet illuminating;
complete like the great emptiness,
containing all that is wonderful.

-   Han Shan Te'-Ch'ing, 1600

Posted by michael

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Spirit Of Christmas

The spirit of Christmas is a jolly fellow who comes from a long line of relatives in the book of mythology.  There is much debate and opinion about the merits of telling children that a later day relative of St. Nicholas, Santa Claus, exists and brings gifts to good children on Christmas day.  Other serious adults declare the season of "bah humbug" and turn in for a long winter nap.  This arguing and discussion is the meandering of adults lost in the seeming solidity of their vision of things as they are.  Of course Santa Claus and all of his helpers and relatives exist and continue to appear in this season of winter.  Look around you and see the people scurrying around thinking and emoting about all of their religious, spiritual, and secular traditions, as they procure good foods, drink, and presents for all they care about.  We all embody the spirit of Christmas, whatever our creed and affiliations, when we turn our minds to the light and benefit of warm heart and kindness.  Santa Claus is the magical manifestation of our thoughts and actions.  He is a reminder to expand our horizons.  When we recognize the space of generosity, we are filled with kinship to all of the family who goes before us and reminded of the generations to come.  We can give them the legacy of clean air, water, energy (fire), and land.   

It is clear to me that charity, generosity, compassion, and love are lights that fill this season with the joy of renewal and boundless aspirations for peace in hearts and minds.  Santa Claus is but one manifestation of this season greeting.  May we all enjoy and appreciate the boundless gratitude that warms our hearts in the middle of winter, when the sun begins its bright return to the summer ease and warmth. 

Posted by michael   

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Winter's Shortest Days

Preparing for the yuletide festivities brings to mind scenes of holidays past.  The years in my early and mid-20’s were a particularly rich cultural smorgasbord, a blend of staying true to family traditions and giving birth to new ones of my own.  I was living in Portland, OR in my own apartment, and was discovering the art of making spaces and atmospheres for the magic of the season to happen.  Many musical events were offered around the city, then as now.  One that occurred annually for about five years in the early ’80’s was a holiday performance by the Elizabethan Balladry Ensemble called “Raynewynde.”  The group members were Timothy Swain, Susan Margaret Sargent, Grant Herreid, joined by Phil and Gayle Newman, masters of renaissance instruments (instrument makers and musicians), and Linda Bennett-Stief, shadow puppet master.

The performances were given at the Old Church in downtown Portland on 11th and Clay St.  This Carpenter Gothic Church had been ready for the wrecking ball when it was saved and restored, and turned into a community hall used for weddings and concerts.  For the Raynewynde event, the pews and stage were all garlanded with fragrant evergreen boughs, the lighting was by candlelight (or perhaps it was simulated).  The performers were dressed in period costume, one woman embroidered during the spoken word portions, pewter mugs of wassail sat in front of them (and wassail was served to the audience at intermission), its spicy fragrance mixing with the other seasonal smells.  The group of five musicians/actors alternated readings spoken in Old English and music sung and played on traditional instruments of the period.  In the second half of the program, a shadow puppet play was performed of the Story of Christmas--birth of Jesus, the shepherds and magi, following the star--with musical and spoken word accompaniment.  
One of the songs they sang has stayed with me all these years and I offer it to you here.  Good words for putting away strife, and celebrating life and the season in good fellowship with all.  Hatred is cold, love is warm.  Warmth is needed to sustain us through the winter months and beyond.  May Love and Peace abound!
All hail to the days that merit more prayse
  Than all the rest of the yeare.
And welcome the Nights that double delites
  As well for the poore as the peer!
Goode fortune attend each merrie man’s friend
  That doth but the best that he may,
Forgetting olde wrongs with carolls and songes,
‘Tis ill for a mind to anger inclined
  To think of small injuries now;
If wrath be to seek, do not lend her thy cheek,
  Nor let her inhabit thy brow.
Cross out of thy books malevolent lookes,
  Both beautie and youth’s decaye,
And wholly consort with mirth and with sport,
This time of the yeare is spent in good cheere,
  And neighbours together do meet,
To sit by the fire, with friendly desire,
  Each other in love to greet.
Twelve days in the yeare much mirthe and good cheere
  In every household is had.
The olde and the young doth caroll this songe,
----Traditional song
This is a link to another group singing this song.  Enjoy the season!
Posted by jackie.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Shaping Intention

One of the advantages of being with the marsh is the shaping of intention.  This cryptic statement exposes the power of the marsh and other natural places.  Being in nature, next to the marsh, beach, or walking in the forest lifts our spirit and mood.  This lifting arises from the wonder and suspension of thinking that we experience in the presence of what cannot be immediately understood.  Our intention is lifted with the mystery of the marsh.  Seeking to know the marsh, we name and locate items that compose the marsh.  These objects change with the season and weather, and the marsh remains, an unknown, mystery that is clearly apparent.

Intention is important because it is the stage in our thinking where we can control outcomes.  Once thought has left the stage of intention, it is surrounded and shaped by material objects and tends to be limited by their potential.  Intention is only limited by the heart.  If our intention is positive, then positive outcomes will result.  If our intention is neutral or negative, than neutral or negative outcomes will result.  The mystery of marsh and other natural places gives us the space to shape positive intentions.  When we are surrounded by negative intentions, such as aggression, greed, attachment, jealousy, and fear, then our lives are filled with objects and outcomes that reflect these intentions.

In this season of light, where we all celebrate the winter solstice and the returning of the light through various religious or spiritual rituals, take time to shape intention towards love, kindness, peace, and good will towards all beings.  Walking with nature can facilitate this intention-shaping by reminding us that we are part of a powerful world that depends on intention and the outcomes that flow from intention.  Our most powerful actions are the shaping of intention, as they control the placement of objects and outcomes in our lives.  

When we are feeling good about ourselves and the world, then everybody is a friend.  When our mood is low and dark, then enemies and trouble stalk our spirits.  We have the choice.  Shape positive intention before being carried away by negative emotion.  Keep forming positive intention until the world is filled with positive thoughts and outcomes.  They will shape the future and our legacy. 

Posted by michael

Monday, December 6, 2010


A rare snow day in our garden near Beaver Creek marsh and the Oregon coast. The quiet white brings a winter's nap, sealing the year and preparing for the coming spring.

Posted by michael and jackie