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Brian Howlett, sensei commented on the group 'Full Moon Poetry Society'
""From Middle English budde 'bud, seedpod', from Proto-Germanic *buddōn (compare Dutch bot 'bud', German Hagebutte ‘hip, rosehip', Butzen 'seedpod', Swedish dialect bodd 'head'), perhaps from…"
13 hours ago
Brian Howlett, sensei commented on the group 'Full Moon Poetry Society'
"Open SecretPretending deathis a surprisewhile surveyingdeath's territoryevery night.Goodbye handsso long feet.As solid asa vapor trail. "
13 hours ago
Brian Howlett, sensei commented on the group 'Full Moon Poetry Society'
14 hours ago
Brooks Hester is now a member of The Tricycle Community
15 hours ago
Alan Summers replied to the discussion 'Haiku Corner' in the group Tricycle Community Poetry Club
"My heart goes out to those who have lost mothers (and grandmothers)  I lost both of my mothers within four days, and today I have learnt that famous haiku writer Deborah Kolodji unexpectedly lost her mom. my deepest condolences to…"
Friday
Florence Rastogi replied to the discussion 'Haiku Corner' in the group Tricycle Community Poetry Club
"Sorry for your loss, Will. Beautiful tribute.. "
Friday
Alan Summers replied to the discussion 'Haiku Corner' in the group Tricycle Community Poetry Club
"I don't know about being in a womb anymore, though I met a French girl who was apparently conscious and gave the mid-wife a fright! :-) Sounds or not…"
Thursday
Florence Rastogi replied to the discussion 'Haiku Corner' in the group Tricycle Community Poetry Club
"Alan, thank you .  Yes, this haiku by Don Baird is very striking, and an enigma.. One of the possible meaning which struck me first, on reading it, was - the child didn't make it. (as a war-time connotation of Nagasaki)... and the sound…"
Thursday
 

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My heart goes out to those wh…

My heart goes out to those who have lost mothers (and grandmothers)  I lost both of my mothers within four days, and today I have learnt that famous haiku writer Deborah Kolodji unexpectedly lost her mom.

my deepest condolences to everyone,

Alan

Sorry for your loss, Will. Be…

Sorry for your loss, Will.

Beautiful tribute..

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The Long, Strange Trip

Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics (2nd edition)
Edited by Allan Badiner
Synergetic Press; May 2015
304 pp.; $38.95 (Cloth)

It was something I noticed back in the early 1980s, when I was working as a newspaper reporter and interviewing longtime members of San Francisco Zen Center. I’d ask them how they got interested in Buddhism, and I’d keep hearing about “the long, strange trip.”

“Well,” the answer would go, “I guess you could say it started with that first acid trip back in 1965.”

This fall marks the 50th anniversary of the first San Francisco “Acid Test,” when a promising young writer named Ken Kesey gathered the infamous band of Merry Pranksters and spiked the Kool-Aid. It was 1965, the same year that another early psychedelic explorer, ousted Harvard psychology professor Richard Alpert, headed out to San Francisco, the first stop on his pilgrimage to India, where he’d be reincarnated as Baba Ram Dass.

Today, psychedelics (and Kesey’s house band, the Grateful Dead) are very much back in the news, and so is the debate about how and whether getting high on psychoactive substances should be part of the Buddhist path.

First, the news: The final stage of government-approved clinical trials into the medical use of MDMA, also known as “ecstasy,” and psilocybin, the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms,” is expected to begin next year. Promising early results show that MDMA-fueled psychotherapy sessions can help people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, including thousands of troubled American soldiers returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Other research indicates that supervised sessions with psilocybin can greatly help cancer patients deal with the “psycho-spiritual distress” that often accompanies a life-threatening diagnosis. As early as 2020, researchers now predict, MDMA and psilocybin could be reclassified by the US Food and Drug Administration and routinely used under the watchful eye of trained therapists.

Meanwhile, legal restrictions are also loosening for some religious groups that use psychedelic plants in their rites and ceremonies. Following earlier court rulings allowing Native Americans to legally use peyote in their spiritual practices, a 2006 Supreme Court decision granted similar protections to North American congregations affiliated with two Brazilian churches that use ayahuasca, a psychedelic tea, in their ceremonial life.

Ayahuasca devotees outside those Brazilian sects are also starting to come out of the shamanic closet. All-night sessions are not hard to find among Brooklyn hipsters and Hollywood trendsetters. Mainstream media coverage of the new wave of psychedelic research and rituals has been overwhelmingly positive and restrained—unlike a wave of sensationalist coverage in the late 1960s that conspired to allow Congress to pass the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which helped shut down 20 years of early research into the beneficial use of psychedelics.

This shifting psychedelic landscape makes the new edition of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics, edited by Allan Badiner and published by Synergetic Press, all the more timely. Like the first edition, published in 2002 by Chronicle Books, this hardcover volume is vividly illustrated with visionary art, including a new foldout centerpiece featuring the work of Android Jones.

Most of the essays are reprints from the first edition, but two of the new offerings point to some of the changes over the past 20 years. The first is an interview with Rick Doblin, the founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS. He has raised close to $20 million to support drug researchers and persuade federal regulators that MDMA can be safely and effectively used to ease the psychic pain of war veterans and sexual abuse victims. Doblin, who had his first LSD trip as a college freshman in 1972, talks in the interview about the Zendo Project, which offers psychedelic harm reduction services at the annual Burning Man festival in the Nevada dessert.

The psychotherapist Ralph Metzner pens another one of this edition’s original essays: “A New Look at the Psychedelic Tibetan Book of the Dead.” He is the author (along with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert) of the influential 1964 book The Psychedelic Experience, a manual on how to take an LSD trip. Metzner, Leary, and Alpert based their tripping manual on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, a self-styled English translation of texts popularized by the American Theosophist W.Y. Evans-Wentz, first published in 1927. Whether or not The Tibetan Book of the Dead reflects ideas that are authentically Tibetan or Buddhist, Metzner and his coauthors helped establish the idea that a psychedelic drug trip was another route to the mystical insights one could achieve—with much more work—through the discipline of Buddhist meditation.

“Psychedelic travelers could be guided, or guide themselves, to release their ego-attachments and illusory self-images, the way a Tibetan Buddhist lama would guide a person who was actually dying to relinquish their attachments,” writes Metzner.

Fifty years later, the psychotherapist is more convinced than ever that “the two most beneficent potential areas of application of psychedelic technologies are in the treatment of addictions and in the psycho-spiritual preparation for the final transition.”

Buddhists teachers who were interviewed or wrote their own essays in Zig Zag Zen disagree as to what extent psychoactive drugs can help or hinder those on the Buddhist path. Some say they offer a glimpse of another way of being and can open a door. Others, such as meditation teacher Michele McDonald, just say “no” to psychedelics. “Drugs promote attachment to experience,” she writes. “What you actually get from drug experience is the desire to take the drugs again.”

Psychedelic drugs can produce feelings similar to those reported by religious mystics—a sense of oneness with the universe, transcendence of time and space, an intuitive knowing, a deeply felt positive mood, and a sense of ineffability and paradox.

Huston Smith, the noted religion scholar who writes the preface, once told me that it doesn’t matter much if a religious experience is “real” or drug induced. It doesn’t matter if your mind is altered by 250 micrograms of LSD or years of long meditation retreats. What matters is what you do with the experience. Do altered states lead to altered traits?

This all sounds a lot like the debate that the editors at Tricycle inspired nearly 20 years ago when the magazine devoted an issue to the subject of Buddhism and psychedelics.

Their conclusion then seems like good advice today: “Just Say Maybe.

Don Lattin is the author of five books, including The Harvard Psychedelic Club. He is currently working on a book about the new wave of research into psychedelics.

Meditating at the Edge of Nowhere

Like my neighbor Berta Alemán has taught me,
one way to meditate
is to hold a water hose in your hand.
Paradise is right around the corner.
But you should not expect too much progress at first.
There is plenty to do, standing there,
watering the lawn.
It could be a Wednesday night,
maybe right before September, right before
the kids go back to school.
Some times you hate them.
They don’t listen.
That’s okay.
You might even be out of milk.
There’s plenty of time for milk and kids.
You are outside now.
That’s what counts.
Like it’s a real hot night, hotter than usual,
a good night to water the backyard,
it’s been so scraggly lately,
especially in spots.
You maybe think that you have forgotten so much
this last month, this stretch
of the summer which seems so much like waiting.
This is okay too.
This is the physiology of the summer,
the way it insists that all is not done,
will never be,
the autumn and the winter comes,
over and over,
a snake with its goddamn tail stuck in its mouth.
 
So forgive yourself.
 
This is essential to the act of meditation.
 
You must remember you are watering the yard.
That is all you are doing.
Stand out there,
your left hand on your hip
in perfect repose, your right hand
carefully, gently,
grasping the water hose.
Be careful to watch the spray of the water
shine in the light of the full moon.
The water is perfect.
The moon is also perfect.
As is the grass, even if it is dying.
 
Your back should be straight,
but at ease
so that you can drink in the darkness of the night
without worrying about tomorrow.
If you are a man, you might want to
scratch your nuts, cradling them,
or if you are a woman,
shake your hips back and forth
slowly.
Whatever, the purpose is
to feel the sex of who you are.
You might hum a tune,
some sort of nursery rhyme
like you heard growing up
wherever that was.
It was a long time ago.
Your mother was so beautiful.
You can finally understand that now.
Stretch your legs.
Rock your body back and forth.
But concentrate on the water.
Be grateful.
Life is not what you imagined.
You have friends that have better,
others that have worse,
still others who are dead.
Breathe in and breathe out.
 
Maybe your lover is inside.
It will be a good night for love-making,
so warm and fine,
the drone of the swamp cooler
so the kids won’t hear.
The bright moon.
You can tell your lover
about standing here in the moonlight
watering the yard.
But there is time before that.
You should think about your children again,
their bodies,
how they have changed
since they first squirmed through the door of flesh,
and your parents too
who are close to their death,
waiting to take the other journey.
So this is what life has been about.
It may seem so right now,
so clear,
to come to this point
exactly
and to think that a certain spot in the grass
has been dry for too long.
You have forgotten some things.
You have remembered others.
You have come this far.
Before you go back inside
be certain that the grass is watered completely.


Bobby Byrd is a poet who practices at the Both Sides/No Sides Zen Community in El Paso, Texas. He is copublisher, with his wife, of Cinco Puntos Press. This poem originally appeared in his book Get Some Fuses for the House (North Atlantic Books).

Image: Shutterstock

The Zen of Not Knowing

Beginner’s mind is Zen practice in action. It is the mind that is innocent of preconceptions and expectations, judgments and prejudices. Beginner’s mind is just present to explore and observe and see “things as they are.” I think of beginner’s mind as the mind that faces life like a small child, full of curiosity and wonder and amazement. “I wonder what this is? I wonder what that is? I wonder what this means?” Without approaching things with a fixed point of view or a prior judgment, just asking “What is it?”

I was having lunch with Indigo, a small child, at City Center [a Soto Zen practice center in San Francisco]. He saw an object on the table and got very interested in it. He picked it up and started fooling with it: looking at it, putting it in his mouth, and banging on the table with it—just engaging with it without any previous idea of what it was. For Indigo, it was just an interesting thing, and it was a delight to him to see what he could do with this thing. You and I would see it and say, “It’s a spoon. It sits there and you use it for soup.” It doesn’t have all the possibilities that he finds in it.

Watching Indigo, you can see the innocence of “What is it?”

Can we look at our lives in such a way? Can we look at all of the aspects of our lives with this mind, just open to seeing what there is to see? I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time doing that. I have a lot of habits of mind—I think most of us do. Children begin to lose that innocent quality after a while, and soon they want to be “the one who knows.”

We all want to be the one who knows. But if we decide we “know” something, we are not open to other possibilities anymore. And that’s a shame. We lose something very vital in our life when it’s more important to us to be one who knows than it is to be awake to what’s happening. We get disappointed because we expect one thing, and it doesn’t happen quite like that. Or we think something ought to be like this, and it turns out different. Instead of saying, “Oh, isn’t that interesting,” we say, “Yuck, not what I thought it would be.” Pity. The very nature of beginner’s mind is not knowing in a certain way, not being an expert.

As Suzuki Roshi said in the prologue to Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s there are few.” As an expert, you’ve already got it figured out, so you don’t need to pay attention to what’s happening. Pity.

How can we cultivate this mind that is free to just be awake? In zazen, in just sitting, in sitting and noticing the busyness of our mind and all of the fixed views that we carry. Once we notice the fixed views that we are carrying around with us, the preconceptions that we are carrying around with us, then it is possible for us to let them go and say, “Well, maybe so, maybe not.” Suzuki Roshi once said, “The essence of Zen is ‘Not always so.’” Not always so. It’s a good little phrase to carry around when you’re sure. It gives you an opportunity to look again more carefully and see what other possibilities there might be in the situation.

I don’t know about you, but when I started to sit, I really began to see how many fixed ideas and fixed views I had. How much judgment was ready right on the tip of my tongue. How much expectation, how much preconception I was carrying around with me all the time, and how much it got in the way of actually noticing what was happening. I don’t want to tell you that after years I’m free of all that, but at least I notice it sooner, and I sometimes don’t get caught in believing it.

First, before you can let go of preconceptions and expectations and prejudices, you have to notice them; otherwise, they’re just carrying on unconsciously and affecting everything you do. But as you sit, you begin to recognize the really persistent ones: “Oh my gosh . . . you again! Didn’t I just deal with you yesterday?” And again. And again. Pretty soon, you can’t take them seriously. They just keep popping up and popping up and popping up, and after a while you become really familiar with them. And you can’t get so buried under something once you realize that it’s just a habitual state of mind and doesn’t have much to do with what’s right in front of you. It’s just something that you haul around with you all the time and bring out for every occasion. It hasn’t much to do with the present situation. Sometimes you can actually say, “Oh, I think I’m just hauling that around with me. I don’t think it has anything to do with this.”

In her poem “When Death Comes,” Mary Oliver has a few lines that say, “When it’s over, I want to say: all my life / I was a bride married to amazement. / I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”

This is beginner’s mind: “I’ve been a bride married to amazement.” Just how amazing the world is, how amazing our life is. How amazing that the sun comes up in the morning or that the wisteria blooms in the spring. “A bride married to amazement, . . . the bridegroom taking the world into my arms.” Can you live your life with that kind of wholeheartedness, with that kind of thoroughness? This is the beginner’s mind that Suzuki Roshi is pointing to, is encouraging us to cultivate. He is encouraging us to see where we are stuck with fixed views and see if we can, as Kosho Uchiyama Roshi says, “open the hand of thought” and let the fixed view go. This is our effort. This is our work. Just to be here, ready to meet whatever is next without expectation or prejudice or preconceptions. Just “What is it? What is this, I wonder?”

So please, cultivate your beginner’s mind. Be willing not to be an expert. Be willing not to know. Not knowing is nearest. Not knowing is most intimate.

Zenkei Blanche Hartman is a senior dharma teacher at San Francisco Zen Center, where she has served two terms as abbot.

From Seeds of a Boundless Life by Zenkei Blanche Hartman, © 2015 by Zenkei Blanche Hartman. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boston, MA.

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