Dharma Gleanings


cynthia rich

January 3, 2015—January 11, 2015

January 3, 2015
We were talking about dharma doubt in a sangha meeting, and it occurs to me that doubt, with its spirit of retraction, is probably very often our pulling back, sometimes with an intellectual veneer, in the face of the fear of non-self: do I really want to go deeper with this practice that seeks to dismember me after all the work I’ve done to piece myself together?

January 5, 2015
Just a few weeks after I had the shift of experience described in the Afterword to 2014, I read an interview with David Hinton, the great translator of 5th-12th century Taoist poetry. I saw immediately that he had found words for what I had stumbled rather banally to express, the state that I had been living with recently. In that state I found myself suddenly reluctant to read or write in the usual way, and even began seeking out verses of haiku—poetry so similar to the poems he was speaking of and quoting. All without knowing why. In a notebook I wrote the following:

This (Hinton’s interview) comes closer to the essence of spiritual life than anything I’ve read, although I probably had to read everything I read in order to be there. This consciousness is what comes after rapture—I’ve been feeling my feet on its path before I read it.

I ordered Hinson’s anthology of his translations, Mountain Home: The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China. I find that any time I am distracted with conventional concerns, I can simply read those poems and can travel directly to that place of knowing.

January 11, 2015
Conventional life, free of practice, is not without its comforts—principally the belief that all of our problems lie outside: “If only it would not be so hot,” “If he would only be kinder to me,” “If she would just give me a raise.” There’s a lot of delusional comfort in that. The comfort is that we do not have to go inside where all our most dreaded demons live. The delusion is that we can end our suffering by ignoring its source.