“In the cherry blossoms’ shade
there is no such thing as a stranger.”
“The more you sense the rareness and value of your life, the more you realize that how you use it, how you manifest it, is all your responsibility. We face such a big task, so naturally we sit down for a while.”
Puha ka honu, ua awakea.
When the turtle comes up to breathe, it is daylight.
Said when a person yawns. Sleeping time is over; work begins.
‘Olelo No’eau – Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings, #2717
Collected, translated and annotated by Mary Kawena Pukui
August feels like a big yawn! A good time to rest and play. It’s been perfect playing weather here in Chicagolands – not too hot – with humidity that feels good on my skin. Flowers are blooming everywhere – dahlias, black eyed Susans, sunflowers. And big work is afoot for me.
My husband and I have transitioned from our large old Victorian home with its three floors, large kitchen, and seven bedrooms (counting the attic). We’ve moved to a two bedroom apartment above our Zen Life & Meditation Center. We haven’t sold the Victorian yet – still prepping and getting it ready for sale – hopefully on the market by mid-August.
Overall it feels very good to divest and simplify. Releasing the house also includes releasing the beautiful pa hula (hula mound) in the backyard. Halau i Ka Pono students, friends, and I have enjoyed feeling the soft grass underneath our bare feet as we danced hula on it for performances or just for the joy of dancing. This unique structure is also gorgeous in different seasons – white with snow, golden with maple leaves, and green with life-giving rain falling on it.
It’s not so easy to let go but I know that it’s time to imua (move forward). I feel that I am like an opihi (limpet) loosening its grip on a rock as the knife of reality pries it off. I spent part of yesterday afternoon sitting next to the pa hula reading under the shade of a leafy maple tree. The air was still and cool in the shade. A slight breeze came up every now and then. The bamboo fencing, enclosing our yard, looked strong and quiet, turned white with weathering. The fence secured and created a safe, serene space.
I took a break from studying and walked slowly around the mound. The grass was slightly damp from a big rain on the previous day. It felt peaceful, and I so appreciated being there. Then slowly I noticed that I wasn’t clinging to it. I was just there, taking it all in.
Change is a constant in all life. It’s good to enjoy things while we have them and let them go when it’s time to. For example, our bodies age – our hair whitens and eventually strength leaves our arms and legs. Youth vanishes whether we like it or not. Our work or practice is about being ok with these changes.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t care when our bodies age. We do care, and we do what we must to take care of ourselves. Although we can’t stop the aging process, we can age mindfully and gracefully. We all will die some day. Instead of dreading it, can we make peace with mortality and let it enliven the time we have left here? I’ve been underwater a lot. It’s time to come to the surface and take a breath. I think that’s the realization that leaving the house is leading me toward.
Malama pono (Take care of body, mind and heart),
June Kaililani Tanoue
P.S. Sending prayers for everyone’s safety and well-being in Hawaii during this hurricane season!!!
People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.
“Put aside the intellectual practice of investigating words and chasing phrases, and learn to take the backward step that turns the light around and shine it inward. Your body and mind will drop away of themselves, and your original face will manifest. If you want to be in touch with things as they are, you – right here and now – have to start being yourself, as you are. You met the Buddha Way in this life – how could you waste your time delighting in sparks from a flint stone? Form and substance are like the dew on the grass, the fortunes of life like a dart of lightning – emptied in an instant, vanished in a flash. Please, honored followers of Zen, long accustomed to groping for the elephant, do not doubt the true dragon. Devote your energies to the way that points directly to the real thing. Revere the one who has gone beyond learning and is free from effort. Share the wisdom of Buddhas with Buddhas, transmit the samadhi of ancestors to ancestors. Continue to live in such a way, and you will be such a person. This treasure house will open of itself; it is up to you to use it freely.”
from Fukanzazengi by Eihei Dogen
I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
“Any description of the world is a net thrown over a flood; No matter how fine the mesh, the world leaks through.”
Scott Russel Sanders
We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us to see their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life because of our silence.
William Butler Yeats