Distant Thunder

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Sharp this light
Falls tangent
Then carved away.

Coarse green hill
Shivering
Sheltering deep.

It rings this air
Sounds down
Base hollow lingers.

Bruised underside
Feathered up
Clouds moult dark.

Ragged in breath
Silent pale stealth
Easing through trees.

This tangled thread
Grasped taught fist
Violence released.

But the storm
In breaking
Moves on.

And into the quiet
Of the unfulfilled
Is the want
Still.

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Touch Me Again

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A soft afternoon cicada
Gentles the way
Sea breeze of evening.

Distant ships
White-walled yachts
Weigh in westering sun.

Small butterfly
Shelters the warmth
Napped baize of leaves.

And it reaches out
No, further!
Touches in long sweep down.

Abrupt obeisance
Inexplicable
Bow all beings before.

But then silence
In the passing
What want will wake?

In this stilled mind
This dead hand
These empty words.

Touch me
And touch me again
My love
My love.

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Philosophy for Fools

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The Vienna Circle, neopositivism, was never able to bridge the difference between sign and reality. And those great philosophers of language, Wittgenstein and Heidegger, accept there remains an inaccessible mystery to meaning.

But who requires the abstractions of philosophers when, every day of our lives, we ‘do’ meaning in the world? Our ordinary lives display our embodiment of meaning in everything we do.

And there we have the answer to those who would complicate life with their arguments, those who persist in the questioning of that which is obvious to everyone else.

Philosophy, really, is the province of fools!

But wait…

How can such pragmatism be so willfully blind to the equally obvious fact that what we intend to do and what is done do not always coincide? No one believes themselves to be evil and yet history and this world today are full of evil.

Philosophers might be academic fools, but at least they have woken up to the fact of the mismatch between our intentions and the results of our actions derived from them, however rational.

The willful ignorance of human beings, who go on throughout their lives destroying, while all the while telling themselves of their virtue, creates their own suffering, the suffering of those close to them and the suffering that spills out across the entire cosmos.

It is possible by narrowing vision to become blind to suffering. The vast majority of people live just such narrow lives.

Except…they cannot.

How is it possible to ignore the suffering of the world in which you live and which is you?

So human beings live narrow lives of suffering while claiming their happiness in order to stave off the pain.

It is difficult to comprehend why it is everyone continues on in their lives hurting those they love and themselves in a willful and ultimately self-defeating ignorance of their own suffering?

We are not evil, our actions need not cause pain and yet we are content to continue hurting and being hurt.

The answer is not difficult, it is clear in every moment. What stands in the way is the ego self that will not accept to have the world see it for the narrow-minded, ignorant evil-doer that it is.

This is delusion. The truth of delusion is that it is delusion. Seeing true self is the beginning of the path out of delusion by seeing reality. What is reality? Seeing everything just as it is.

Reality is then this phenomenal world. Ordinary mind is the way. But only if true self is seen, not as some goal, but as the underlying reality that informs all.

Do not be too hasty in disparaging Mazu’s ‘Original Enlightenment’. It may be that no-one becomes enlightened, but that is not to say that this must not be…real-ised!

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Language Must Withdraw

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Words will
This wonder of worlds
Waive to waste.

The air
This breath
Opening the moment.

The great horizon
Vast cosmos
In this green leaf.

Nothing is left out
No fly nor spun thread
Lies beyond.

Thought would
Fiction make
In paragraphs and pages.

But in this stillness
Language must withdraw
And give silence presence.

It sweeps out
Touching totality
Returning with the gift.

The sudden breeze
Shivers aspen leaves
Speaking being once more.

Meaning then
All the way down
And back to the summit again.

Even in a grain of sand
This small life
Gifts empty words
For no reason.

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Wild Boar

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The number of wild boar in these hills has grown in recent decades to such an extent that hunting is often extended into the summer months.

Fortunately, I have not seen or heard the dogs and guns since the winter and my small clearing and veg garden are now no longer on a route the boar used to take. It is not clear whether this is as a result of my presence – I sometimes chase them away in the evenings when they wander close by – or because there is a badger who now lives nearby. Or perhaps, simply different routes at different times of the year.

It is rare to see the wild boar because they are so well camouflaged for the forest and because the undergrowth is so dense. It is yet a young forest, 50 years old, with some older trees, and there is still enough light coming through where the canopy, although closed, is not yet dense enough to stop the adventitious growth of rose, clematis, briar, smilax spp, as well as the saplings and seedlings of oaks, maple and hawthorn.

So my relationship to the wild boar is mostly through hearing and especially to a family group which ranges widely over these parts. I met them yesterday in the return from another walk. It is this group which I have heard many evenings passing by, where along with the rustle of many feet on the dried leaves and the occasional fights and squeals of the younger boar, there is the constant trumpeting and wheezing of the mother (the dominant female?) , seemingly communicating with the extended group to keep them together and moving in the same direction.

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Yesterday a pair of this year’s young had fallen behind the main group and were just beneath the path I was on. They were unaware of my presence 15m away and I was able to get out my camera and take these photos.

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It was the same last year here in my clearing when I came across these two yearlings, this time taking a break in the light shade about 25m from my cabin. In the photos the young boar are not distinct and at full ‘zoom’ it is possible to see how easily it would be to pass them by. Again, it is the sound they make that gives them away. Although, down wind of a group in summer, there is a very strong and distinctive smell, which you catch even long after the boar have gone!

As I write this a loud crash on the hillside above, of stones cracking against each other and then another making its accelerating way down the steep hill, mark the passing of what is probably a solitary male.

Even the sounds, after a time begin to become differentiated, one from the other, and now it is possible to perceive either boar or deer startled by my approach running off through the forest. The boar often crash through the undergrowth or you hear the quick sound of their hooves through the leaf litter. While the deer are more silent and there is a longer, almost gliding gait to the sound of the retreating step.

I caught a glimpse of a fawn yesterday, following close behind its mother, just for a second it was there caught in the flashing sun between the trees before disappearing into the dark of the woods once more… Far to quick for this poor photographer to get out the camera.

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Walking the hills

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Let me introduce you to where I live. If you can enlarge the photo above, focus on the centre left, you might be able to see a peak with what looks like a section taken out of it; that’s my home.

Here is a closer view, although from that distance and only with the camera available in this phone, it is not possible to see the clearing in which I live.

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For the third time I attempted to find the most direct path through to the panoramic view across northern Catalonia yesterday from The Mare de Deu de Rocacorba. For the third time I failed.

Unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately, such things are hard to discern – I am the type of walker who is continually trying out new paths and short cuts, which means I often end up battling through increasingly dense and prickly undergrowth as the path that once promised so much, peters out.

As happened yesterday. I eventually found the path I wanted but by then I’d been walking 3 hours and realised I had to turn back just 2km from my destination, if I wanted to get back before the end of daylight.

But highlights on the way: a beautiful piece of very old chestnut which will lend itself to a fine sculpture, the sight of the rapidly disappearing flanks of a roe deer, the noisy disturbance of two separate families of wild boar, the discovery of more beech forests and the familiarity of a whole network of paths I had not encountered before.

And the pleasure of the well known look out from the broad flat rock that projects out from Golany, from where the photos on this page were taken. Here is a view to the East across Banyoles to Ros├ęs and the sea.

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So, I still have the views from the Mare de Deu de Rocacorba to look forward to, which I have been promised has stunning views to the South, above Girona and on to Barcelona. I’ll let you know how it goes and bring back some photos.

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Audio: ‘Singing the Song of the Sun’, again with chaffinch!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6zY4geXeFg9NnlxMGtCTExuQXM/view?usp=drivesdk

It seems that each time I begin to read a poem out loud the chaffinch becomes either curious or jealous of the competition. Whichever way you interpret it, and however shrill his short repeated call might be, the chaffinch is foremost in his praise of the sun, beginning early each day.

Living in the sense world of the forest it seems somehow right to turn to audio for eyes do not perceive as deeply as does sound. And hearing is a passive sense, which opens us up in ways the active sense of sight never can.

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No. 6 Fullness

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The sun, again, crests the Pyrenees as they enter the sea, tired but grateful after their long journey eastwards from The Basque Country, easing the aches and pains of eons in the quiet waters of the meditarranean.

The hover flies, again, drone contentedly here under the trees, playing whatever game it is they play.

Fullness is not a buffer against emptiness, loss and suffering. It is not the power of positive thinking, but simply the expression of reality.

Happiness comes and goes, as does sadness. Each keeps time with itself irrespective of any efforts we might make to encourage the one and stave off the other.

Fullness being reality has nothing to do with the reflection of our transient emotional states. It provides the ground from which both emanate, as it provides the ground for everything else too.

Fullness is the wonder hidden in the depth of reality accessible only to those who are first able to bear down on the nothingness that is the concomitant of fullness. It is, paradoxically, only nothingness that reveals fullness.

Just to the extent you are able to let a fixed notion of your self go, are you able to appreciate, by being, the fullness of every moment itself.

To hold on to anything, even and especially the sense of an ego self, is to deny the flow of existence and in doing so, miss it.

What is of interest for us today, is that the appreciation of fullness is now the only antidote to the destruction of the earth.

It is no new technology that will save us, but a new perception. Fullness is that perception, but of course it is nothing new. How could it be so; fullness is reality and is thus the abiding nature of the cosmos, beyond place and time because incorporating both.

Fullness sings songs, writes naive poetry and can’t help but smile at itself.

While dark words brood upon the eventual destruction of life on earth at our hands, we see only a relative emptiness and not the absolute emptiness which allows fullness to shine.

Perhaps it is worth finishing with an expression of this absolute emptiness which may make it possible for those even now ready to make the leap into fullness?

“Even if all life on earth is destroyed it will not detract from fullness by one jot!”

However negative it might sound, this is the path toward fullness. By destroying fear we destroy the destruction of life on earth.

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Egyptian Vultures

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photo from bspb.org

Yesterday I finally managed to identify the 3 large birds that often circle Chapel Peak, always, until yesterday, just beyond range for identification.

Egyptian vultures, Neophron percnopterus, are on the red list as endangered, their numbers having dropped by more than half in the last decades.

They are the smallest of European vultures at about 1.15m in wingspan, but their leisurely glide upon the thermal rising from Falgons, was beautiful.

The destruction of the earth is a story often told, it destroys our own well being and perhaps our resolve. Far better to experience the wonder of the natural world, its self-soing, which lacks nothing.

Given wonder and the fullness of that which ever-arises out of nothing to overflow the cosmos with life, sentience and joy, the future is far better in silence than the harsh words bombarding us from all sides that we are destroyers.

Wonder and fullness grow out of the silencing of our attempts to always interpret the world. Destruction grows out of the endless need to control the world through new stories.

Above me now the daily ravens squabble as they too effortlessly rise on the morning’s thermal. Swift’s plough the air in sudden, sweeping furrows and the jays, as always, are fighting downways in the tall poplars.

There is no end to this, no limit to the prodigality, it stretches well beyond our poor efforts at perception. The way forward is not hard to perceive in the stillness that comes in recognising fullness.

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No. 5 The End of the Telling of Other Stories?

Saying what can’t be said fails because words slide easily into tired furrows of fiction.

Too many words.

Again: It can’t be said because no story exists to tell it.

We story the world. That is not a part of being human, it is the human itself.

So, then, we must tell new stories?

But a new story is still another story. Another path laid out for people to follow so that they do not have to do the hard work of finding their own way themselves.

Telling other stories is not enough.

“O house-builder, you are seen! You will not build this house again. For your rafters are broken and your ridgepole shattered. My mind has reached the Unconditioned; I have attained the destruction of craving.”

These words of the Buddha on his awakening give some sense of what is required.

The implications are extraordinary.

An end to story-telling and end to the human!

What is beyond the human? To say anything of that is simply to begin telling another story.

Read in this way, it is extraordinary just how Buddhistic Nietzsche appears with his proposal of who it is who succeeds the ‘Last man’.

But be careful with this story, it bites! Gripped in the wrong way, it is as poisonous as Nagarjuna’s snake and it is a rare critic who has been able to handle it safely.

Poetry, dense aphorisms and paradox. Tautology too. And occasional irony used with finesse, Kierkegaard perhaps?

And so another story takes shape. It slips easily off the swords edge into Existentialism – a philosophy already known to be wanting, to be of the last mid-century.

But what if this is a story not yet told? A story that is not a story because it is not other than reality right here and now?

Does it make it easier if it is proclaimed loudly that in Mahayana there are literally (literarily) no necessary beliefs?

Every story of the Buddha is but a skillful means to bring another person to their awakening.

So the cycle repeats, another story gets told, this time the story of no story from out of skillful means.

And skillful means? Comes out of the first and greatest vow of the Four Great Vows of the Bodhisattva.

What is a Bodhisattva? That is enough stories for one day.

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