Sunday, 31 December 2017

現代俳句 December 2017

By Rory A.A. Hinton

" color more Tibetan than Zen..."

December 2017

Friday December 01, 2017
Like father
Love son. 
So proud

Saturday December 02, 2017
Doc code
Hack her.
New view

Sunday December 03, 2017
Roar seventy
Four score. 
True blue

Monday December 04, 2017
First mount
Ton done. 
Last fast

Tuesday December 05, 2017
Old journal
Entry man.
Exit again

Wednesday December 06, 2017
Nose grind
Stone ground.
Many words

Thursday December 07, 2017
Cool monk
Man handle.
Aka hermit

Friday December 08, 2017
No documents
Slide showing.
Staying away

Saturday December 09, 2017
Very last
Day away.
Know way

Sunday December 10, 2017
Faithful fifty
Three vows.

Monday December 11, 2017
Northern Mountain
Order schedule.
Daily diligence

Tuesday December 12, 2017
Breathing thoughts
Without thinking.
Not unaware

Wednesday December 13, 2017
Trickster tries
Sitting schedule.
Physical humility

Thursday December 14, 2017
Office move
Pro exiting.
Next step

Friday December 15, 2017
All desires
Turn concrete.
Too slow

Saturday December 16, 2017
Transcribe words
Recorded reports.
Reluctant scribe

Sunday December 17, 2017
Let sleeping
Hermits lie.
Down here

Monday December 18, 2017
Relent less
Safety now.
Despite me

Tuesday December 19, 2017
Talking politically
Correct publically.
Private protection

Wednesday December 20, 2017
Phone call
Waiting back.
Never mind

Thursday December 21, 2017
Always kind
Behind view.
No matter

Friday December 22, 2017
Binge watch
Glitch fix.
All day

Saturday December 23, 2017
Cold gin
Time again.
Always win

Sunday December 24, 2017
Go lightly
Write her.
Of course

Monday December 25, 2017
Merton second
Vatican council.
Oriental theology

Tuesday December 26, 2017
Dog man
Best friend.
Holly dear

Wednesday December 27, 2017
Holed up
Side down.
Frosted flakes

Thursday December 28, 2017
Dried skin
Bone cold.
More heat

Friday December 29, 2017
Two minds
Think apart.
Old debate

Saturday December 30, 2017
Subject gate
Closed shut.
Man’s end

Sunday December 31, 2017
Merton magnificent
Maleficent matters.
Monastic mensch

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Why Do We Do This?

By Rory A.A. Hinton

I was raised as an agnostic. "No mind? No matter. No matter? Never mind." This sums up my attitude at the time. The only religious conversation I had with my father was at the dinner table one evening when I was young. It was about a simple prayer that I was told to pray before each meal: "God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for this food. Amen." I did what I was told. It eventually became more of a poem than a prayer for me. I liked the cadence of it, but that did not prevent me from wondering why I had to recite it. At the very least it was a constant reminder for me to be thankful.
     After I prayed this prayer before dinner one evening, I asked my father: "Why do we do this?" Only now (forty years later) do I understand the wisdom not only of his response to my question, but of my parent's decision to have me continually pray (day after day) in the first place. He looked at me and said: "Fine. We won't pray anymore."
     I lived as a spiritual materialist from my late youth to my early adulthood. Curious George was my spirit animal growing up, so my monkey mind was on a mission to know. This heroic epistemological quest (the hero with a thousand questions) was a form of rebellion against my agnostic upbringing. It eventually led me (years later) to a YouTube video in which an interviewer asked C.G. Jung near the end of his life whether he now believed in God. Jung answered: "Now? Difficult to answer. I know. I don't need to believe. I know." I wanted to know like Jung.
     After ten years of wanting, my early agnostic roots got the very best of me. Curiously enough, it was Jung's Forward to D.T. Suzuki's book Introduction To Zen Buddhism that woke me up out of my gnostic slumber. From here, it was only a small step to know what follows from the following syllogism: if to know God is to know the self, and if to know the self is to know there is no self that knows, then to know God is to know that there is no self that knows (QED). Knowledge without a knower? I don't know.
     I took this best of steps at the worst of times in my life. I had finished a PhD and started an academic career. However, I could not find full-time academic work. All I could do was teach courses on a part-time basis for a fraction of a tenured salary. The struggle to make a living in the career of my choice, coupled with my maddening confusion over this "knowledge-without-a-knower" business, drove me to literally sit and do nothing.
     During this time I read Philip Kapleau's The Three Pillars Of Zen. This introduced me to the practice of zazen (just sitting). I just sat on my own until I started sitting at a local Zen Center. This experience was instructive, but not long lived. My wife at the time was resentful toward me practicing Zen at the Center, and did not want me to practice there any longer. I had to make a choice. I was married with three children. Loving them was my top priority. I wrote the Roshi at the Zen Center and said that I would not be sitting with the sangha any longer because of my situation at home. He wrote me back a very short letter that was to the point: "You are obviously not ready." He knew.
     Not long after this my marriage ended in a very difficult divorce. The experience left me bankrupt (in every way). I was without hope. As I sat in this hopelessness I read Chögyam Trungpa's Crazy Wisdom and felt a hint of freedom for the first time in my life. Like Padmasambhava, I too had explored sexuality and the marriage system and relating with a wife. This made me receptive to his insight that to have no hope is to have no fear, and to have no fear is to be free. This fact eventually led me to practice at a local Shambhala Center. However, this too did not last long. As I sat at the center, I started to feel like I was missing something. What is there to miss?
     As I sat in the foyer of the Shambhala Center one evening before a scheduled sitting, an older and seasoned member of the sangha noticed that I was wearing mala beads. He looked at me and asked: "Do you wear those for fashion or for practice?" This was no ordinary question. Without thinking I answered: "Both." I did not know who or what was speaking, but at that moment I knew what I was missing: the Zen sitting style of cool boredom: "Zen practices are supposed to provide real boredom. You should be really cornered by them." (Chögyam Trungpa). His use of 'fashion' made me think of 'style.' At that moment style and practice became one, and I realized that practicing a Tibetan style of sitting had helped me determine what was ultimately best for me.
     After I finished sitting that evening I left the Center and did not return. The manure of experience had served its purpose: "Nothing threatens us at all; everything is an ornament. The greater the chaos, the more everything becomes an ornament. That is the state of Vajradhara." (Chögyam Trungpa).



     Sitting within the Zen tradition grounds me in basic goodness, enjoyment, and ease. This is a commentary on my history, part of which consists in my discovery of Dōgen Zenji in the midst of my various life experiences (briefly described above). This feeling is therefore not fleeting, but founded upon and informed by Dōgen's demonstration of the dharma. His "Sōtō Zen" is the threadless red thread that gets read through the fabric of my life, providing wise guidance as the endless ensō of it is so continues beyond the point of death (Dōgen "died in the posture of zazen," as Hee-Jin Kim points out).
   "On the great road of buddha ancestors there is always unsurpassable practice, continuous and sustained. It forms the circle of the way and is never cut off. Between aspiration, practice, enlightenment, and nirvana, there is not a moment’s gap; continuous practice is the circle of the way. This being so, continuous practice is unstained, not forced by you or others. The power of this continuous practice confirms you as well as others. It means your practice affects the entire earth and the entire sky in the ten directions. Although not noticed by others or by yourself, it is so."
     Dōgen Zenji's words remind me of the wisdom behind my parent's decision to have me experience the continual practice of praying. There was a method to my parent's madness here (whether noticed on their part or not): it was only through this continual practice that I was ready and able to ask my father about its significance, and willing to hear the answer he gave me. And it is only now, after experiencing all of the methodological madness of my life up to this point, that I continue to sit (day after day) facing the gateless gate of the Great Matter and ask: Why do we do this?

Chögyam Trungpa. Crazy Wisdom. Shambhala. 2001.
Chögyam Trungpa. The Teacup And The Skullcup. Shambhala Publications. 2015
Dōgen Zenji. The Essential Dōgen. Shambhala. 2013.
Dōgen Zenji. Treasury Of The True Dharma Eye (ed. Kazuaki Tanahashi). Shambhala. 2012.
D.T. Suzuki. Introduction To Zen Buddhism. Grove/Atlantic. 1991.
Hee-Jin Kim. Eihei Dogen: Mystical Realist. Wisdom Publications. 2000.
Philip Kapleau. The Three Pillars Of Zen. Anchor. 1989.
Stephen Batchelor. Buddhism Without Beliefs. Penguin Group. 1997.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

和歌 December 2017

By Rory A.A. Hinton

December 2017

Sunday December 10, 2017
Have you come to stay?
Yes, Lady, if you’ll have me. 
Solitude: the way
to die and to love again
while sitting doing nothing.

Tuesday December 12, 2017
Why do we do this?
Fine. We won’t pray anymore.
Following my bliss ...
full of thanks for my father,
who knew what he was doing.

Wednesday December 13, 2017
Escape is at hand
for the vanishing manic.
His last grain of sand
drops down the bound hourglass
of public obscurity.

Thursday December 14, 2017
With her coy chuckle
my singing chambermaid left.
She wasn’t subtle:
checking out hours before
all my desires became.

Friday December 15, 2017
Why? What did he do?
He legislated our world.
The poets who knew
followed this Trans-Canada
highway, fully, completely.

Saturday December 23, 2017
The bell tolls for thee,
binary identity.
The death of god, the
illusion of the ego:
hymns to the empty silence.

Sunday December 24, 2017
Return to the real,
the only is what it is.
This star-gazer feels
blooming under the night sky.
There never was you and I.

Monday December 25, 2017
Practice like you are
saving your head from fire?
Practicing afar:
shaving the hidden dragon
fire burning through the skull.