I have gone into the waste lonely places
Behind the eye; the lost acres at the edge of smoky cities.
I live in an old neighborhood near a small downtown, just beyond the reach of the last parking meters. Any of the houses here would look stately and haunted perched on a hill somewhere, but as it is they’re all serried together down the long city blocks: most gables and bay windows look out on the bay windows and gables of one’s immediate neighbor. I’ve given up a country view for convenience; the university where I work is just a half-mile away—and five hundred feet up—at rest on a stack of sea bottoms some 350 million years old.Read more
On a cool October day in the oak-forested hills of Lorena Province in Iran, a lost child was saved in an inconceivable way. The news of it came to me as a parable that I keep turning over in my mind, a message from some gentler universe than this one. I carry it like a treasure map while I look for the place where I’ll understand its meaning.Read more
I find it sad to consider that belief has become a scary word, because at its Greek root, “to believe” simply means “to give one’s heart to.” Thus, if we can determine what it is we give our heart to, then we will know what it is we believe.
But the word “belief” has been impoverished; it has come to mean a head-over-heart intellectual assent. When people ask, “What do you believe?” they are usually asking, “What do you think?” I have come to see that my education, even my religious education, left me with a faulty and inadequate sense of religious belief as a kind of suspension of the intellect. Religion, as I came to understand it, was a primitive relic that could not stand up to the advances made in our understanding of human psychological development or the inquiry of higher mathematics and the modern sciences.Read more
On one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery. Now at that time Ven. Sariputta was staying among the Magadhans in Nalaka village—diseased, in pain, severely ill. Cunda the novice was his attendant. Then, because of that illness, Ven. Sariputta attained total Unbinding.
So Cunda the novice, taking Ven. Sariputta’s bowl and robes, went to Ven. Ananda in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery, near Savatthi, and on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to Ven. Ananda: “Venerable sir, Ven. Sariputta has attained total Unbinding. Here are his bowl and robes.”Read more
The thousand sages have not transmitted the single word before sound; if you have never seen it personally, it is as if it were worlds away. Even if you discern it before sound and cut off the tongues of everyone in the world, you’re still not a sharp person. Therefore it is said, “The sky can’t cover it; the earth can’t support it; empty space can’t contain it; sun and moon can’t illumine it.” Where there is no Buddha and you alone are called the Honored One, for the first time you’ve amounted to something. Otherwise, if you are not yet this way, penetrate through on the tip of a hair and release the great shining illumination; then in all directions you will be independent and free in the midst of phenomena; what- ever you pick up, there is nothing that’s not it. But tell me, what is attained that is so extraordinary?