Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Zen is a way of exploring what it is to be alive - Joan Sutherland

It seems to me that Zen is a way of exploring what it is to be alive -and in particular alive as human beings in a pretty mysterious universe. That apparently simple thought radiates lots of other thoughts, such as a sense of the largeness of things, and an intuition that being human is something we have to discover, step by step. It implies that our lives do not stop at our skin, but that we are entangled with many other beings, who affect us and whom we affect.

One of the things I love most about Zen is that it accepts that life is simultaneously beautiful and difficult, and it asks us not to turn away from either. It suggests that is is helpful in this matter of being alive in a beautiful and difficult world to foster an attitude of warmth and curiosity; this allow us to live with a more open heart and mind, and to notice what happens when we do.

Over the centuries, Zen has developed a few methods that can help us navigate life's beauties and difficulties: meditation, inquiry, intimate conversation, and communal ritual. In the deep stillness of meditation it's possible to experience the river under the river, which has been called essential nature and the Tao and the ground of being and God. But meditation is more than that; it is also a dynamic engagement with the world, through which it's possible to become more receptive to the stuff and matter of our lives in all their complexity. Inquiry uses questioning to deconstruct what is habitual or taken for granted in our thoughts and feelings, and through imagination it makes us aware of both what we can't know and what might be possible. Meditation and inquiry go on within each of us and also in what we do together; with them we can bring to light the courage to care shamelessly about life, and to become more willing to act, to make mistakes, and to try again.

Over time we might find that life seems more and more dreamlike -less solid and certain, more mutable and surprising -and that there are several aspects to our experience of the dream: the everyday, or how things appear to us; the eternal, how they are in and and of themselves; and the imaginal, how we and they might influence each other. In some ways Zen is about becoming aware of the simultaneous presence of all these aspects, in ourselves and in the world, and to find a way through the dream, step by step, that embraces all three.

This is a gorgeous, humbling, and risky project. There is no recipe or guidebook; each of us must discover, over a lifetime, what it means for ourselves. What Zen offers are some methods, some metaphors, some guidance, and some companionship on the way -and these are no small things. Zen is not a dogma, but an ever -changing organism or network, made up of what each practitioner discovers, and the fields that are created as those discoveries influence each other.

To read more about this go to Joan Sutherland website

To connect to her website ... click here

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Meaning of Existence - Les Murray

Everything except language

knows the meaning of existence.

Trees, planets, rivers, time

know nothing else. They express it

moment by moment as the universe.

Even this fool of a body

lives it in part, and would

have full dignity within it

but for the ignorant freedom

of my talking mind.

Les Murray is Australia's leading contemporay poet. He won many literary awards, among them the prestigious T.S. Eliot Award in 1996. To know more about Les Murray and his poetry ... click here

Excerpt from LLewellyn Vaughan-Lee's book: "The Light of Oneness"

The light of peace

Peace is born from a place beyond the opposites, where peace is always present. Peace is a dynamic force that we can learn how to use. It has a simplicity that belongs to the energy of the soul. It is a way of being rather than something to be achieved. Once we step outside of the paradigm of the warring opposites, we will find that the sun is shining. We do not need to fight for our living. We have been given the sustenance we need.

The peace is present but we are not using it. In our struggle for peace we create discord: this is one of the effects of working on the level of opposites. Real peace cannot be imposed, nor is it the result of reconciliation. In our culture of conflict, peace achieved by these means may be the only vestige of peace that is accessible, just as the ego's right to choose is the only concept of freedom our limited understanding allows us. Real peace is a force of life to be lived, to be enjoyed, to be celebrated. It is a gift that belongs to us.

Yet people are frightened of such peace. It cannot be manipulated or attached to power dynamics. In the clash of opposites we fight to win, to impose ourself. Even our image of world peace is a balance of power. What would happen if these power dynamics were removed? How would we know who is in control? The structures of our culture are based upon power dynamics and an adversarial attitude. The drama of power needs adversaries. A life of peace functions in a different way. It does not belong to patterns of control. Peace and freedom belong together.

To be open to peace is to leave behind many of the ways that we define our life. To work with peace would mean that we work with an energy that is free from the constellation of opposites. This energy is part of our divine nature.

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee is a Sufi Teacher in the Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya Sufi Order. His book THE LIGHT OF ONENESS is edited by The golden Sufi Center.

To connect to the Golden Sufi Center's website ... click here

They have many interesting online audio archives (free MP3 files) ... click here
For books, many available for free as pdf files ... click here

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Welcome to the Southern Palm Zen Group Blog

Check back often for relevent articles, links and information.