Chartreuse was somehow so beautiful and comforting in that field of violet and orange. Its soul hung open on the wall among dozens of paintings all revealing their naked truths to any willing eyes.
"You want a beer?"he asked. "Yes, please," I answered. I felt the familiar Jamie I know so well. Jamie is afraid still. The world opens and gives him gifts but he still feels fear. "There you are" I think.
Thanks to this blog and writing practice I am in the home of a familiar acquaintance. We've been sitting together at Conway Community Sangha for years. Last Sunday after practice with sangha and a wonderful breakfast together as a group, he asked if I'd like to come to his home for dinner. Remembering my burger on the lawn with Johnny and Mike, I said yes.
For me this is the key to practice. To bring it into my life every moment of the day and night. To pay attention and wonder. To notice my grasping and pushing away. Moment by moment. It's not really an inquiry of why I'm doing it. Not a psychological inquiry totally. Mujo says it's a practice of welcoming all that is. Like zazen and kinhin. To begin to realize this very moment is the manifestation of oneness. It's exactly Creation. There is no separation originally so why be deluded to think I'm better or worse or different in any way.
He was the source of a bit of frustration for me months ago. It was unfair but my feelings are my feelings. I was frustrated with everything in practice. He took the reigns after I decided to take a break from Conway Sangha. He also took the lead in creating a trifold glossy handout for our sangha. A rift grew among our sangha. It grew from misconceptions and misunderstandings. Truly it grew from my own delusions and expectations.
Sangha is also the harmony of Buddha and Dharma. The harmony depends on us all and we depend on it. It is neither just one thing nor is it two (many) things. If we can let our minds flow with the river of this harmony, life is so beautiful. I weep when this flow is revealed in my life. I cry a lot.
It felt warm as he showed me around his home. I dove into each painting heart first, cooling off in the fields of indigo and dancing on the blades of grass. Drinking with my eyes all the flavors of the endless colors. He talked about each of the paintings and each of the artists making me feel like they were all standing in that room. Bearing witness to some kind of healing and painting it into wholeness again on a canvas, on the canvas of life. Just a brush stroke of cadmium yellow growing on a canvas.
The pasta was delicious. The salad tasted exactly like one of the salads our tenzo made at sesshin once. I told him that. We talked and revealed some intimate details in the paintings of our own lives. Trying to figure out the foreground of the truth and the background of our common humanity. As we ate, I felt more and more comfortable. The background started to become a deep, deep orange and red painted on the brush of cadmium yellow and the mountains became visible and revealed a beautiful sunrise. The beginning of a friendship.
(I guess I just flat out stole the following poem. I have it memorized. I've embodied it. I don't know how to pay her for it. I want to give it to you. I'm sorry to be a thief.)
THE BUDDHA'S LAST INSTRUCTION
“Make of yourself a light” said the Buddha, before he died. I think of this every morning as the east begins to tear off its many clouds of darkness, to send up the first signal-a white fan streaked with pink and violet, even green. An old man, he lay down between two sala trees, and he might have said anything, knowing it was his final hour. The light burns upward, it thickens and settles over the fields. Around him, the villagers gathered and stretched forward to listen. Even before the sun itself hangs, disattached, in the blue air, I am touched everywhere by its ocean of yellow waves. No doubt he thought of everything that had happened in his difficult life. And then I feel the sun itself as it blazes over the hills, like a million flowers on fire- clearly I’m not needed, yet I feel myself turning into something of inexplicable value. Slowly, beneath the branches, he raised his head. He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.
Eric Koeppel and green and blue and orange and white and brown and yellow.