15 April 2005

The Ultimate Way, Yuan-wu (1063-1135)

This quote is from DailyZen.com. It's a lovely site and includes commentary on the lengthy quote below. It's definitely worth a visit!

The ultimate Way is simple and easy, yet profoundly deep. From the beginning it does not set up steps. Penetrate directly through to freedom and make it so that there is not the slightest obstruction at any time, twenty-four hours a day, with the realization pervading in all directions.

Then your heart will be clear, comprehending the present and the past. Picking up a blade of grass, you can use it for the body of Buddha; taking the body of the Buddha, you can use it as a blade of grass. From the first there is no superiority or inferiority, no grasping or rejection.

When your insight penetrates freely and its application is clear, then even in the middle of complexity and complication, you yourself can move freely without sticking or lingering anywhere. Thus, without setting up any rigid views or maintaining any state, respond freely: "when the wind blows, the grasses bend."

When you enter enlightenment in actual practice, you penetrate to the profound source, cultivating this until you realize freedom of mind, harboring nothing in your heart. Did the Zen founder actually "bring" this teaching when he came to China from India? He just pointed directly to the inherent nature in every one of us, clear and clean, to not be stained by so much false knowledge and false consciousness, delusory conceptions, and judgments.

Study must be true study. Open your heart, without the slightest sense of the ordinary or the holy and see for yourself. When you do not seek outside, real truth is always there, resting peacefully, immutable. No one can block this realization, not even a thousand sages or teachers; having attained a pure, clean and naked state, you pass through to the other side of the empty eon. Why even speak of seeking from others?

The Zen masters were all like this, ever since the founders. Take the example of the Sixth Patriarch: he was an illiterate woodcutter in south China, but when he came and met the Fifth Patriarch, at their first meeting he opened his heart and clearly passed through to freedom.

Once you merge your tracks in the stream of Zen, spend the days silencing your mind and studying with your whole being, knowing this great cause is not attained from anyone else. It is just a matter of bearing up bravely and strongly, day by day dropping away, like pure gold smelted and refined thousands of times.

This work lies in one's conduct: in everyday life's varied mix of myriad circumstances, in the dusty hubbub, amidst the ups and downs of situations. Be present and clear without being too distracted by any of it. Actively transmute confusion into clarity. Keep to the middle way, immune to outside influences; this is your

On reaching emptiness, there is no duality between noise and quiet. Even when it comes to extraordinary words, marvelous statements, unique acts, and absolute perspectives, you just level them with one measure. Ultimately they have no right or wrong, it's all in how you use them.

When you have continued grinding and polishing yourself like this for a long time, you will be free in the midst of birth and death and look upon society's useless honor and ruinous profit as like dust in the wind, phantoms in dreams, flowers in the sky. Passing unattached through the world, would you not then be a great saint who has left the dusts?

When Zen study reaches this point, one is flexible, compassionate, and empty, not susceptible to human deceptions.

Yuan-wu (1063-1135)

— Excerpted from "The Five Houses of Zen" Trans by Thomas Cleary

Excellent blog

13 April 2005

What's for Dinner?

My husband has taken up cooking the past couple of weeks. When I wasn't working, I used to cook a lot, including making fresh bread (without using a breadmaker) every day. Since I've been working, I have absolutely no enthusiasm for coming home and working some more. My husband is home all day every day. We generally go out every night for food--nothing special nor very pricey, though. Because of a cash flow crunch of late, we've been eating at home for the past couple of weeks. The only problem? My husband doesn't really know how to cook. What an adventure it's been.

Last night we had hamburgers. By that, I mean hamburger meat stuck between two slices of bread. Mustard and mayo don't exist in hubby's diet, so he didn't get any when he went to the grocery store. We also had ranch style beans. That was it. Monday night we had pork chops, very thinly sliced, which my husband grilled and grilled and grilled. We ended up with what could only be defined as pork chop jerky. Hubby loves chewy meat. With out jerky we had canned fruit cocktail with fresh apples and bananas added in. Sunday night we had a turkey sandwich and vegetable soup. Did I mention that I wanted to lose some weight? Well, it looks like that won't be difficult. Unfortunately, I sometimes get hungry right around 9:00 in the evening. My friends have suggested that I consume massive quantities when I go out for breakfast with my mom on the weekends. Someone here brought an entire box of fresh chocolate chip cookies. Oh yum! Normally I have a rule about not eating at work, but this week I'm breaking it.

I thought there was a lull in the downstairs hammering, sawing and generally banging stuff around, but I hear they're back at it. Can you hear me screaming and beating my head against the wall?

When I was on vacation a couple of weeks ago, I planted seeds for California poppies, bachelor buttons, morning glories and four o'clocks. I noticed some of them have germinated. That's a surprise because I always plant directly into the garden as opposed to starting them in little containers then transplanting. I also planted some bulbs-- Asiatic lillies and Lillium. One of those is sticking its head out of the ground already. One of the other good things about not eating out is that I have plenty of time to water the new plants every day.

That's enough for today. Here's the quote of the day:

"Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement." ~ Alfred Adler

America held hostage day 1918
Bushism of the day:
"We need to apply 21st-century information technology to the health care field. We need to have our medical records put on the I.T."—Collinsville, Ill., Jan. 5, 2005

Website of the day: Common Dreams

Through the Looking Glass

So the noise and nasty odors continue as the work crews tear up kitchen flooring and replace the decking, paint, refinish all of the woodwork on the stairs, paint upstairs and in the kitchen and plant new stuff in the patio area. I had to meditate for an hour last night to restore some semblance of equanimity in body and mind. I passed my boss on the stairs this morning and he told me they'll all be finished tomorrow. I just hope all of us can endure it. Actually, I just hope I can endure it. I'm feeling selfish today.

The other big drama on the work front has to do with one of our off-site employees. This person is a craftsperson who's worked for us for around a decade now. He recently worked at one of our branch sites in a different state. When he returned, his previous position had already been filled so we moved him to a different site. The employee, let's just call him The Ladies' Man, used to be a foreman but there weren't any similar positions available. Normally that would mean he would have to take a pay cut, but because he's been with the company for so long, the owner of the company decided to continue to pay him foreman wages. Ladies' Man has always done a great job for our clients and has grown considerably in leadership skills.

Ladies' Man's supervisor, T., told our one of our accounting people that J.A.'s wages should be at the journeyman level (less than a foreman). Information Superhighway, in the acounting office, said okay to that, even though the owner directed her to pay the other rate. The owner doesn't like to have confrontations with employees, so it's easier for him to just make an end run around the people who are apt to put up an argument.

For some reason, T. decided to open Ladies' Man's pay envelope when he delivered the paychecks this week. He noticed right away that the pay level was not what he expected. T. arrived this morning on the war path. He went to The Superhighway and told her that she had no right to pay Ladies' Man at the higher rate. He insinuated that The Superhighway had made a unilateral decision about the pay rate and accused her of always defending The Man. Superhighway pointed out that she defends lots of other employees, too. Finally, she told him to take it up with the owner of the company. The conversation ended there.

When the owner arrived, Superhighway informed him of the situation. The owner told her to take away the extra hourly pay and just start paying The Man a $200 car allowance for the use of his truck. That ended up being even more than he was being paid before. Superhighway said she'd do that, but insisted that Owner has to talk to T. himself.

My boss does not want to talk to T. That's likely to be unpleasant and my boss really doesn't like unpleasantness. That doesn't seem to be a problem right now because T. left the office and hasn't returned.

I have never, ever worked at a company in which the boss has gone to such great lengths to avoid saying what's on his mind. This isn't an across the board kind of thing. If an employee falls from grace for one reason or another, my boss will not only be confrontational, he'll manufacture ways to annoy or otherwise torment the person. Welcome to life through the looking-glass. More later...if I have the fortitude.

12 April 2005

Manifesting Genghis Khan

Someone once asked my teacher Maezumi Roshi, "If all beings are
Buddha, how about someone like Genghis Khan or Adolf Hitler? Are they
Buddhas, too?" What Maezumi Roshi answered was interesting and
challenging. He said, "When you start a painting, you have a blank
piece of paper, a brush, and ink. With that blank piece of paper,
everything is possible. The minute we start painting, we create one
of the countless possibilities. That is our life, moment to moment."
His point is that the whole spectrum of human existence exists in
every one of us. We have the potential to manifest Genghis Khan, and
we have the potential to manifest the Buddha, and everything in
between. And we do.

We are constantly painting. Life is constantly unfolding. Definitely,
my life of thirty years ago is not what my life is today. Everything
changes. Each one of us is in a constant state of becoming. Nothing
is fixed. That is the most exciting thing about this life. No matter
how bad it is, it is going to change. No matter how good it is, it is
going to change. And we never know which way it is going to unfold.
It keeps the hair on the back of your neck erect. You have to be
alert, ready, and open.

--The Heart of Being: Moral and Ethical Teachings of Zen Buddhism,
John Daido Loori

11 April 2005

As If the Fact That It's Monday Wasn't Enough

Just like virtually everyone else in America, I hate Mondays. When I woke up this morning, I considered calling in sick, something I think about every Monday. I dismissed the thought when I remembered that I might actually need that sick leave day at some point. I came to work this morning, a little dazed still from the weekend and already wishing I could schedule in some nap time later in the day.

The day started out fine. I chatted up some of my co-workers, did a little corporate bonding and settled into the day. Shortly after lunch, I noticed some tumult in the break room downstairs. My boss (and owner of the company) arrived in a manic mode today. I don't use that word lightly--he actually seems to be bipolar, though I'm not sure he's received that specific diagnosis. If he hasn't, it's just because bipolar people are often misdiagnosed. We all hate it when Owner arrives all wound up; it never fails that a tidal wave follows in his wake.

Today he decided to completely redesign the patio downstairs, disrupting the (somewhat) feral kitties who live there. He called me up and ran his plan by me. He wanted to know if it was okay with me. Well, no. It's not okay. It's bound to flip out the kitties, with whom I've worked long and hard to establish a sense of trust and safety. I told him the plan sounded good to me. He's going to do as he pleases, no matter what I say. It's just a complete waste of time and energy for me to disagree with it. Nonetheless, it did ruffle my feathers a bit, which is disturbing because for a minute there I lost the "I'm more mature and reasonable than you" contest which I always win. (I'm the only one who knows I'm even playing the game, so my perception of who wins is paramount.)

I discovered the cause of the brouhaha downstairs when I went to the patio to distribute kitty treats. Owner is also completely reconfiguring the kitchen and break room. They're two separate and popular rooms. Everyone makes their breakfast in the kitchen every day and the company maintains some snack-type foods (which absolutely no one here needs to be eating, including me) in the refrigerator. There's a television in the break room where people eat their lunch and watch the weather channel or CNN or something. I have a couple of cohorts who are major hoop heads and on occasion (like March Madness for instance), we set up camp down there and root for our fave teams. We're all a bit sensitive to the possibility of either of those rooms being tampered with.

I decided to check around and find out if any of my co-workers were in the know about the alterations. Crazy Employee didn't know what was going on, but she was concerned that the kitchen is being repainted. Both Crazy Employee and I suffer from migraines from time to time and she worried that the paint fumes might trigger one. I hadn't thought of that, but she has a point. Beginning on Friday, I had a migraine for two days.

Mr. Moneybags and The Information Superhighway were also in an uproar. Apparently, my boss has decided to move his office. No one knows where, but they're irritated about it, nonetheless. It's that habit he has of working himself up into high gear and then seeming to take other people's feelings into account while, in reality, he's just going to do as he damn well pleases. If I was playing the More Mature and Reasonable game with them, I'd be the winner hands down. I wasn't quite as worked up as they were.

If I were to do a survey of the other 3 people who work downstairs, I'm sure I'd find 3 more annoyed people. I'm fairly certain they won't know where Owner is moving his office, so I'm not even going to bother with checking their emotional temperature. One of our coworkers (Loathsome) has been in a branch in another state for several years and he's due to return relatively soon. I suggested to Mr. Moneybags and The Superhighway that maybe our boss is moving over to that office in my side of the building and having the returning guy office on their side of the building. No one found that amusing.

Mr. M. told me that our boss had looked in Loathsome's office and noted that all of his stuff is still boxed up from the time we had our upstairs offices recarpeted. We all had to box everything to make it easier for the guys to do the installation, so Crazy Employee put Loathsome's office crappola into boxes for him. No one has unpacked it. Owner wanted to know why and pointed out to Superhighway that our returning worker will be insulted that we left it that way. Oh my god! Did that ever get everyone's panties in a collective wad. No one here likes Loathsome (hence the name), so any suggestion that anyone should go out of their way for him is taken as an insult to the rest of us. Ah, office politics...how I love them.

Other than that, it's just your usual crappy Monday. Our only hope is that tomorrow the proverbial worm will have turned and our boss will be too depressed to even come in.

Here's the quote of the day:
"Always be smarter than the people who hire you." ~ Lena Horne

America held hostage day 1916
Bushism of the day:
"I want to appreciate those of you who wear our nation's uniform for your sacrifice."—Jacksonville, Fla., Jan. 14, 2005

Website of the day: American Constitution Society For Law and Policy

Current reading:
Original Dwelling Place, Robert Aiken