I’ve been collecting outside evidence of the Buddha’s “First Noble Truth”, which is inspired here by Allen Ginsberg in his great poem/song, “Gospel Noble Truths”:
“Born in this world
You got to suffer
You got no soul…” *
I’ve been collecting evidence so that I can justify a new pottery ritual I just began. Here’s my top three from this week:
- Over heard while sitting:
Two women walking down alley, tender southern accents,
It was like her whole arm swelled up—
There were welts—
I don’t know.
It was bad.
- Last Saturday in the Fall Sanctuary Yoga & Meditation Retreat at Sandstone Ranch:
The promise was meditation would bring me peace, calm, resilience. I worked at that. I got somewhere. I did that. I have my peace. Now they say, enjoy the richness. So now I have to do that? So now I’m supposed to be sit and be with everything?!
- Yesterday, talking with Russ, sitting on his corner behind Natural Grocers, with his sign:
These last three years have been really hard. Lost my place, job…. Sometimes I get work…Things could change. Maybe when Hillary gets elected?
Does he have an indoor place to sleep? He does.
Does he get mad when someone else takes his corner? He does not.
Does he want coconut water? He hates that stuff.
Would he like a banana? Sure.
If you ask, what do you want, no one says, I want to suffer.
Capturing my bliss, holding onto peace with my little grip. Positive thinking. It’s all suffering. All “Dukkha.”** What happens when bliss changes or there is something serious to think about, talk about, to grieve for. If I am devoted to happiness then what do I do to myself when I feel crappy? That’s when I start blaming myself, or separating my experience from others. I then split how I feel and sense things from how I present myself. That’s a fracture. Sure, I can see the real good big whole beauty of IT ALL dropping and rising. The world has her beating heart.. AND If we don’t acknowledge our own suffers how can we know what suffering is when we see it in others? When something happens, what do we do when our temporary high gets knocked off the cliff with a little puff?
The first time I dropped pottery in this house on Venice Street I was reaching for the paper towels and instead a soup bowl, patterns of blues, crashed on the ceramic cat bowls. The blue bowl and cat bowls broke, and on the way down, chipped a glass notch out of the large glass blue water bowl for the animals. Parts and shards landed in the water, splashing.
(For a resume of my broken pottery look below***)
Suffer. It’s who we are, what we do. I hang on. I push away. I want what I can’t have. I imagine everything will stay the same.
But reality does not work that way. Friends die, I hurt people’s feelings. Cold outside. Traffic lines up on the Diagonal.
In the morning, as I sit I cry. My friend Terri says, Do you cry because it’s so poignant, beautiful? Do I cry because, as Damaris says, I let the light come to me rather than reaching out to the light? Yes, tears of gratitude. And no, I cry because I’m human. I feel bad and I cry.
Instead of mending the whole broken world or putting it back together again, I am meeting the broken parts with actual broken pieces. I am placing pieces in solidarity and appreciation.
Here is my new art –in- the- world broken meets broken healing project:
I take my pottery pieces with me in my bike basket.
The act of placing a pottery piece down under a special tree requires a bow, in the frisbee park.
I bow as I place one down at the city building after I see a student be turned down for Medicaid.
Place one on the corner of Gay and 17th where the man was killed on his bike.
Drop one where I picked apples from the ground.
And Russ’s corner.
And the hospital.
And where the women spoke in the alley.
Place one outside of Sandstone Ranch after my retreat is over.
Place a shard by the base of the third tree from where I see snapping turtles near farmer’s market (Hello turtles!). Carry pottery shards with my mixed greens, carrots, and bread and apples.
Memorize the places. Meet brokenness with broken pieces. I don’t have to carry extra discontent or extra exhilaration. I can put the pieces down, and go on my way.
Pause. Get off bike. Choose the right one from basket, and place it. Like how a dog pees or a wolf, not to mark her spot, but to say to the others, Hello, hello, I meet you where you are. In an unseen world I see you.
I am also.
I am you.
~ o ~
*Watch Ginsberg singing his poem here: Allen Ginsberg in Hot Springs
** For more on this topic: What the Buddha Taught, by Walpola Rahula.
Better yet: Early Buddhist Discourses, translated by John J. Holder
Or you could ask the person at the counter of the Boulder Bookstore. www.boulderbookstore.net
***Resume (incomplete and in no particular order):
While pushing the glass four- cup measuring cup a tiny bit farther back so I could close the cabinet door four stacked soup bowls (from the original Alfalfas) rust and blue, crashed, broke.
I also have either broken or witnessed and collected:
~ white and blue saucer from the Zendo in Taos (2001)
~ multi colored spaghetti bowl from restaurant next door to Pearl Street Market (1987)
~ four lavender salad bowls from our wedding (2004)
~ Japanese tea bag holder saucers, one grey, one rust, one white with blue trim (various)
~ Sally’s glass cup from pouring boiling water in it (1984)
~ butter holder with an actual painting of one of my goats (1980)
~ green and yellow saucers from Steve’s grandparents (2012)
~ plant pots (various)
~ green cup from SMC (2016)