Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why Do You Meditate, Beautiful, Rowdy Prisoner?

New little Buddha Painting

8x10 mixed media

Dropping Keys

The small man

Builds cages for everyone



While the sage,

Who has to duck his head

When the moon is low,

Keeps dropping keys all night long

For the




- Hafiz

I was out gathering keys tonight because as you all know I need as many as I can scoop up. And I like feeling beautiful and rowdy all at the same time. So kind of Hafiz to let me make a guest appearance in his poem. And the scene of my key gathering was our weekly meditation evening at Stowel Lake Farm. I love to go and slurp up the Dharma. Yes Dharma soup, and afterwards a Dharma sauna (I absorb it through my pores) then jump into a cold lake of my own making.

As I sat tonight I was aware of a sense of wide openness to everything, a stance I mostly forget to have in my everyday life. But that's okay says the wide openness, because wide openness can hold everything, even my forgetfulness. It was a refreshing feeling. That openness was okay with what happens in my studio, with the messiness of the pond outback, with my doubting mind and my awareness of it. The openness chuckled at my comparing mind, my frailties and infirmities. That wide openness was puffed full of air and space, like a bag of something buttery and salty. That glimpse of opennes was a lovely reminder of how to live, perched among the pink clouds and frog song of the evening.

In her Dharma talk, Heather reminded us that a helpful thing to do each time before we sit at home is to ask ourselves why we are sitting, what's important to us, what is it that we really value, personally. This struck me as such a great way to start a sit, because it's so easy to just go in and do our meditation, trying to be present, maybe even just going through the motions. But what if each time we sat we considered what we were aiming ourselves at. For me, the doubter, I would remind myself that faith and trust are important, that kindness and developing a real ability to listen are on my to do (or is that my to "be") list. Peace toward myself and others, an ability to relax, be at home in my body and feel at home in this world would make the list. I'm sure as I sit other things will come up, but this is my initial list. What's on your list? Why do you meditate? What is it that you value? What do you seek to cultivate?

And finally Heather reminded us that our practice is a gift we give to ourselves and the world. It struck me that this is an act of service. We are always thinking and talking in Buddhist circles of how we might serve. But isn't this the most basic form of service, our practice. It radiates out into the world in so many ways, some of them tiny and seemingly unimportant, like when we pick up an ant and carry this small being to the door. Or when we practice the same acts of non-violence to ourselves and those around us (maybe even escorting them to the metaphorical door) Okay, doubt, I'm gonna wrap you in a tissue and put you outside now. Remember when I used to stomp on you with my shoe and then flush you down the toilet? Kindness and tolerance takes many forms. And a lot of it has to do with intention. Which brings us back to why we sit? What is our intention?


  1. Nice post! "wide openness can hold everything" - great reminder in these troubled times... Am working on my to "be" list :) I sit to commune with Beingness, that wide openness, the space of pure Awareness, to cultivate deeply listening to that depth of Pure Stillness. It helps keep everything in perspective...

  2. Beautiful Buddha. It just occurred to me that many things are "keys" for the rowdy prisoners. Ah Ha!

    Thanks for the key!

  3. Wonderful Buddha. I love the words and the use of pattern paper. The poem speaks loudly to me. Thank you.

  4. MeANderi - yes, that's it isn't it, it keeps everything in perspective.

    Leslie - there are lots of keys out there, we just have to be on the lookout for them! I think we have traded keys.

    Miki - thanks! it is a great poem, isn't it?

  5. I like the blowing prayer flags in your painting and the fact that some flags have loosened from the cord and taken off!

    Lovely thoughts. I have a book of Hafiz's. Perhaps should get it out.

  6. maybe at some unconscious level I was inspired to put prayer flags on this painting because of your card! I was looking at Hafiz on the internet, there are some wonderful poems. I bet you'd have fun revisiting your book.

  7. oh, this poem is one of my favorites... i immediately see a little wild man going around dropping off keys for each of us, and then i'm smiling a big smile. yes, yes, here's to our beautiful and rowdy selves... : ) xoxo

  8. a toast to our beautiful, rowdy selves and thanks to that little wild man (I like that picture) Does he look like one of your interesting people??