Jun 1, 2013

We’ll not hear how good the weather is, or
How people go out, everyone outside,
Enjoy, enjoy.  Or look, look at cars.  For
He’s gone.  No more.  Gone his gentle pride,
His courtesy, his flair for saying just
The right thing, making others glad.  He slept
Upon the floor that night, he said he must
Because of pain, then into death he crept
On King Kamehameha Day, a date
That marks nobility, pride, and respect;
The things that others feel for him, a great
And kind man.  Everybody can reflect
On how he graced our lives without much show,
And all are sad to watch him deftly go.

Tawdry dowdy actors who reek of sweat
Who pose at the Hollywood Walk of Fame,
 For pictures with the tourists.  One I met
Inside a coffee shop.  I thought his game
Was just attention at the time, not knowing
That he was acting with his coffee cup
Held up like a chalice to the crowd, showing
All his style was in not giving up.
I think of him now, after touring streets
Like Beverly and Sunset, where homes
Are lavish, idle, vacant.  The guide greets
The stars like ghosts he’s channeled from where roams
Before the river Lethe, those known by name,
Remembered, unforgotten, still the same.

May 15, 2013

A submerged voice reflects on what's been heard
And what's been done.  The outcomes echo back
To intentions, which stand out like a word
That's been weighed and found to be an attack
On what appears to be, instead of be.
I wrote those words some time ago but now
They read like I am starting them, I see
Them as assassins of my own high brow
Intentions.  Others don't behave?  I frown
And grind my teeth, like a tyrant behaves
As if the others were to kneel down:
But that's the false mask.  I don't say what saves
Us all is Christ or other, but I think
This world is full or errors, swim or sink.

I quiet down my mind tonight. Today
I visited my brother after years.
Around us Union Station in LA.
We need to let go.  It all disappears,
Like getting on and off the train you know,
And bus and subway.  Later on I spot
An actor from a TV show, I go
To him and shake his hand, excited, not
Obsequious but glad to find someone
Who's gotten work in acting and does well.
And then was yoga class.  When it was done
The bus ride back to where I stay, to tell
Another sonnet story, one more time,
Succor myself in Venus art of rhyme.

I'm always getting barked at on my walks.
Reminds me if you've heard of it of Mu
Or of Richard the Third. The way he talks
About deformity it's as if you
Were shoulder to deformed shoulder: You share
The pain of individuality.
The dogs will wait to catch one unaware,
To shout, assail, break the shell, to be
One thing, this spit, saliva, teeth, tongue, prey
Caught well enough without the bite although
It does help make the waiting, night and day,
More pregnant with purpose to undergo
The meditation with a chosen end,
When someone's coming up around the bend.

Stop busting my balls I say to the guy
Priest, monk, whatever. He's going on about
Water I hosed the bricks with. I know why
I said it like that, because Dave would shout
The same when we were making a film years
Ago, about MacBeth, it just seemed right
To let the ghost return. Now there appears
Another Dave on this dark shore, the sight
Is troubling, familiar, of someone live
But ghost like, like myself, the dead have not
Released us from the shadow world, and thrive
On long gone images, a film once shot
And not quite forgotten and lingers there
Until over, empty, named, foul, fair.

May 14, 2013

In addition to everything I'm sad,
Today the morning goes by like a bus
Without passengers. A girl dresses bad,
Her blouse and shorts cut low but makes a fuss,
Hugging her boyfriend; because all love is so
Perilous- like a line hanging on, waiting
For meaning, for completion, for the glow
Of happiness given and taken, aching
For synthesis. Then even sadness means
Company, lile a whore assuages grief
Of murderers and rapists, saints and sinners,
The born and unborn, the losers and winners.

I know the way to live now, known a while
The way of getting by until the past
Has taken too many pieces to smile
And get along, so the demon will blast
A whole in the fabric of space and rend
Zero out of two, in Sasaki's phrase.
I like the way Kwanon is moving, tend
To glance on feet in dance stepping displays
Of creation, words, all there are, tatooed
In phrases on her arms. I forget time,
In watching, watch her go, another, wooed
By mystery arises, goes, and I'm
As sure as stone and moss, as tree and sun,
Step by step, breath by breath, over, begun.

May 7, 2013

I need to make time. People do their doing.
I sit and write. I want the poem to find
Another theme than what I know, it's screwing
With my head to be living with Zen mind.
The people at the center want to point
The way all over here and gone, I'm so
Worn out by rules and stories of the joint
I'm glad, so glad, to loaf and watch the show.
The coffee's hot and strong, I paid the price
To sit here writing this, and study things
To say in front of people. Snow and ice
In time gone by, knee deep sometimes. He rings,
We go. He asked what did I know of zen.
I sat in silence. Oh, but that was then.

I know these patterns, cycles, to be true,
It's not just make belief, it's not mere lies
To tell myself and others. It's each new
Conception, overbold it lives, then dies
But not before a something proves to me
The coming, going, here, there, are the same
Samadhi songs I sing, how can it be
That others miss the point? It's just a shame
To see them strive for outward show, a seam
Unstitching as they breathe a lifeless breath.
India, China, to Japan, the stream
Of no beginning, no end, life and death.
It is to have or nothing, Wallace wrote,
To feel it breathing there, worthy to note.

I prune an oleander and I hear
I'm reaching the point, as the priest puts it,
Of diminishing returns. I am near
To finishing, only a little bit
Of cutting remains. It's in how you reach
The infinite, and emptiness misleads
The Zennist into the errors they teach
Where things are left unfinished. When one reads
The Chinese Chi I it's made clear, the stage
Of emptiness is when things are complete.
When Sasaki said he was Buddha's age
It was his mother told him how to greet
The Masters there, like mothers do, she knew
How things get done. I wish this priest did too.

May 3, 2013

Ah this

Here we are with lines to learn and still the wall...  I know what the wall is about, I think these lines are Zen itself, the thing that Maezumi says in the preface to the Blue Cliff Record is to create reality reading.  To make the lines real I want someone to practice with.
In the play I was in, Troy Apostal cast me in a long and challening role.  I got that the part was a police officer but McDonagh wrote it, so it was funny too, and cryptic, and I was falling over myself learning lines.  It caused the director some concern but he was good enough and strong enough to support me in the process. 
Doug Warhit said it: it is reading lines with subtext and responding to another actor, and so this looking at the page is not it.  In a way it is okay, the harder it is for me the better the possible outcome.  Right now for example I am somewhat stumped.  I am doing this rather than learn lines.
I'm making some distance from the Zen center now, there is a lot of work to do there but now a new guy is actually into doing it.  Since I blathered at breakfast that I helped build Palolo Zen center I think they want me to help with building steps.  There are some very difficult things about building steps and I can't be concerned.  I figure it is a job for an expert carpenter.  Sorry.
Ah, LA.  So much has gone in less than a month.  I hope I can keep this diet up with Meryle.  Breakfast of coffee, juice, some grain or bread.  Salad for lunch.  Nothing at night.  The early Buddhists had something going with not eating after noon.

Apr 29, 2013

Translucent fog, Mother's Day flowers sold
On sidewalks. "Senor," I said and pointed.
A car had pulled up. It's like I've grown old
The month I've lived here in LA. Anointed
Now by a blood soaked glove I do not check
To see if real, or, like props films use
Illusion. Posters advertise the next
Installments film and TV will amuse
Our lives with; or perhaps someone did bleed
And dry corpuscles are like leaves the tree
Had separated from, in a sense, freed.
In either case, I only watch, and see
And seeing bathed in all that light, the vast
Eternal show of things, present and past.

I wanted to bring up haole. LA
Where I am doesn't have 'em, but there's no
Hawaiians over here. I guess they say
I'm white if they notice me as I go
To Starbucks then the market. What would Trask
Say if she knew there was no home down here
For haoles to go to? If I could ask
I would, she might say they should disappear
Which would seem to be the case. I am glad
I said no more about it. In this place
A haole's doing John Wayne cuz he's mad
About the dishes and he's in my face
But soon we're talking Buddhist old time story,
And forms like dishes, words, are no more worry.

Apr 19, 2013

LA ji

April 16 2013:
In human history we have never experienced today before,and we cannot repeat it. This is it. It's an unprecedented and unrepeatable day that we are living, and to fully understand it, to fully appreciate it, is the first step in Zen.
p 30 "Endless Vow" Tanahashi @ Chayat. Introduction by Eido Shimano.

I sat at Rinzai-ji at 5 15 a.m.

I sat with two of Joshu Sasaki's Oshos on my first morning. The chanting was impressive but I could not follow along. I wonder if I will keep up in a month's time. My legs get numb as well.

I met with both Oshos, Seijin and Eshin, to discuss my stay. Seijin mentions Clarity and Compassion to me on my way out the door. I'd not been brilliant, let's say.

I want to study. I went to McDonalds which was on my way to a drug store. It had wi-fi. I found that Eshin is a long standing leader in Vancouver. I had him mixed up with Esshu Martin, the one who wrote against his former teacher Sasaki Rosi on the internet.

The preface to "Buddhist Thought in India" mentions that
on the suppositions of Indian Yoga a philosophical system can be built which is a valid, cogent and coherent as those based on modern science
no Oxford or Cambridge professor would demean himself by paying the slightest attention to his colleagurs of ancient India
(p 9 Conze).

Conze mentions that an
extrmely intelligent journalist was generally applauded for publishing a widely read book.devoted to the thesis that there is nothing to the wisdom of the East.

I stop from further reading because I wanted only to consider the statement "there is nothing to the wisdom of the East" which Conze says
reiterates the vulgar prejudices of those who, from mere tribal sluggishness, are convinced that 'Western, i.e. Judeao-Christian and scientific modes of thinking are the unfailing standards of all truth

In Conze's day it was the power of the newspaper that made 'nothing to the wisdom of the East' a prevalent reponse by the West to Buddhism et al, now it is the internet which has power to put across slander as prevailing truth.

Everyday is a good day, Ummon? When I was with Eshin and Seijin, just the three of us in the zendo, I had no non official sitters to follow and learn zen etiquette. Also, back to my own issues, my left knee is hurting.

Talking to the two Oshos at breakfast I mention Conze and his quote about nothing to the East etc., and Seijin replies there's nothing to the wisdom of the West. Of course I misunderstood him and said it was like a see saw; but I can see now he meant something else entirely.

I'm concerned with free time but struggling with how to be free of everything is what zen is concerned with.

Seijin may have been looking over my shoulder. He tells me I am on my own schedule at Gentei-an, cleaning the house and library.

I'm still considering nothing to the East to the internet attacks on Sasaki. I remember he would talk about sex, how men and women had different parts each the other desired. Men want what women have and so forth.

I don't know. This morning I think about what I'm doing, or supposed to be doing. All the while I'm old enough just to welcome death. I could, for example, go home and watch TV while my wife scolds me about not being an actor. Or I could just stay here and try to teach again. This morning it seemed helpless but I imagine, given time, I could chant or help with the leadsership positions.

I don't think much can be done. There's an overreaching pattern and it looks bad to anpyone who sees what is being said about Sasaki Roshi. He's not having sex but with underage or unwilling partners. One sees the black robed religious figures. One follows what one is told to do. So the woman who had sex with Roshi was up against someone who abused his position of authority. But this is Zen. Sasaki often said Zen is not the way of Saints, although perhaps it should be. I was not shocked when I was asked to have sex with Roshi's wife in order to "learn about women." I knew where he was coming from. I recall reading Eric Kandel said about young men having sex with servants to keep them from homosexuality (not that there's anything wrong with that as Seinfeld says. )

My mother sat with Sasaki and I was acting and traveling about. Gay men would tell me that their preference for the same sex in love was a secret they kept from their parents. I asked my mother about homosexuality and she was upset. Since then Sasaki would talk aboit homosexuality in teishos. It was amusing. Anyway I had learned plenty enough about women and simply declined Sasaki's offer. We did have issues later that made me leave. I really can't recall what he was saying that made me so angry at him that I ripped up a flower in front of him in zanzen. I would call someone a liar, albeit a troubled one, who would say or imply the sex with Sasaki was forced. I think there are issues Sasaki is immature about. What he said about homosexuality was him at his worst: overbearing and bigoted.

I see him as a young ardent priest, established in Japan but in a bit of hot water, coming to America with no academic sophistication. In some ways this kept his points radical and embraving, but he was also swayed by and at odds with a culture that he remembers as bombing his own, and seeing with young eyes how the American military invaders had Japanese women by their side.

At a restaurant to connect to the internet, the voices around me are overwhelming. Eshin gave advice about the sense of hearing, or any sense, rather than counting. I try to let my hearing follow the sounds.

In a new place are new sounds. I'm in the top floor of Gentei-an now. Wind is persistent today. Children play in a school across the alley from here. Thoughts and plans rise and fall in my mind.
A little dharma in the middle of the day. I'd gone to the office to ask if there was water, because the filtered water comtainer was empty, to be had. Eshin came from out the office and said he didn't know, being new. Then I quoted Soen Nakagawa:
hidden in this bowl of tea is a secret/ more secret than all of atomic science

Eshin said at once "So find it." Like "nothing to the wisdom of the West" by Seijun, this comes fast and points to absolute reality. Despite the woes I empathize with surrounding Sasaki's behavior and the hurt he caused, these Oshos show me the truth in Zen.

It's an hour away from sitting and I'm reading about acting so that I can go home and be a movie star for my wife to brag about. Ha ha.

It grows late, it seems, but it's only half an hour since evening sitting closed. I met with one of the other residents here and was told how to connect to the internet. Even later I am here up the street on a rented computer, because the nook was not working well. I'm just settling into whatever this is or shall be. Don't know why the situation with Sasaki floods my mind, it may be my window looks out across a roof to the roof of Rinzai ji, Sasaki's temple.

I do hear innuendos and half truths. A woman has died and other people write about her, quote her poems.

Oh, it's time to listen, listen to sound
That's here and there, there and here, just hear
The voices growing families confound
My philosophical ideas, I fear,
They've kept us prisoner too long, although
Surrender seemed unthinkable, I find
In sitting still with others I can grow
Away from what I know to what the mind
Encompasses, awaking one with one.
As soon as saying this I know it's phoney,
It's just a lot of words, all said and done
So many times it's all the same baloney.
I find again if I can live apart
It's better, let religion be, for art.

I realize I've gotten boxed into writing again. This is a crucial stage for me, stage as actor's platform, as human development, and as the "body of fate" from Yeats and Vision - the objective reality of now.

This day has been harsh. The talk by Eshin was for Sunday. It didn't talk about koans, but sounded very new age with talk of positive and negative. These are good terms for sitting, but I think it is too psychological for my taste.

At lunch after the sitting there was a lunch, I got angry. I sense coming back here was important and now I can move on. I realize I could not do what Eshin or Senjin do, they have wide arms to deal with a lot of people. I got upset over Susan wanting to come and take over things at lunch, doing so without gentleness or decorum. Groups do this all the time, like they are starved for new people and want to get what they can from them with some kind of attitude they have no need to show or say who they are. Are they ghosts like in Homer at the shores of Lethe, seeking the life of others? It is a perfect time to demonstrate realization and yet it seemed I was among bureaucrats. The famous, to me anyway, scene in Yeats is when the poet is with bankers and he sees fighters on the street. This lunch was the bankers, chatty and blase, while the life of the world was a fire of great and lucid urgency. Senjin is a bit of puzzle. Either Punch in Punch and Judy, like each blunt hit on someone's head enlightens them; or he is very perceptive and struggles with the opposite of perception, personality. He did, playing dad, remind me of my dad, playing dad. If this comparison holds, then it would be best were he to stop trying to make up for the differennce he has among those with less ken. Yeats says repentance...

God I love Winesburg Ohio. I also e mailed Palolo today, about working there. When I heard Eshin's teisho I was surprised because it was not about a text of koans, but the ideas stay with me. Breath by breath. I am trying to keep my distance now because if new students come, I should not be around. I am sure the people on Sunday would be confused by my lunacy.

I realize I demolished my own concern with lineage to Japan, so what is going on with poor Eido, or with Sasaki, or Aitken and his break with Sanbo Kyodan - are not important. Certainly of no concern to me, who is only here to help lovely Meryle and her folks even is her hope of me being a movie star is not going to be (fill in later: easy? possible?)

I've considered this Sasaki matter for over a week, however long I've been here. It's April 27 now. Another good day. I read accounts that said there was impotence along with accounts of sex and of a marriage being broken up. I had my own experiences as I have said and at the end I took this flower he had next to him and tore it up. I did not go along with what he was trying to make me do, and this had to do with marrying someone or something, something in a teisho about a woman seeing the child within. Poetic images in his mind in my opinion. I find that now that Eido Roshi has been distanced from Myoshin ji, if you read that account, they say they have nothing to do with him. So isn't it interesting they are going after Sasaki? Women were not mindless here, the word is enamoured. In America to find someone like Sasaki to talk to got one very close to profound experiences. There is nothing like Zen in the kind of fundamental Church religion in America which, to think of a passage by Sherwood Anderson, is a religion without the grandeur and depth anymore but one dwindled down to morale formulae. People may go after Sasaki for money now, but later on it leads to more witch hunts against groups like gays and "Philistines" who get in the way of greed. I think maybe greed rather than lust is the topic here. People want to go after the Japan bank. There are several stories in Winesburg Ohio that touch on this topic. The main one is Hands which is the story of a school teacher who used his hands to express himself, touching kids, and when one dull witted school boy got enamoured of the teacher then he got hurt and babbled a lot of lies and this drove the teacher out of town and into obscurity.