This edition of Dharma Stream is devoted to the theme of
by John Travis
Correcting ourselves over and over,
some deep down longing.
straightening posture – over and over.
Re-establishing -- developing this fearless openness,
knowing no place better to cultivate this sanity.
Determined to stay in the center of our own seat.
The posture can be lost so easily,
darkness can creep under our wondering thoughts,
coveting the smallest little sparkle,
dragging us a hundred miles from here.
How to avoid the seductions?
Stories seem more real than this place I sit.
How to overcome the sharp edge of that
withered leaf of the past,
or conjure up a perfect future?
Sometimes – simplicity –
The foundation of your own loveliness.
Living so close to this feeling of ease.
The fire of your own voice singing
praise to all awakenings.
bowing to our own darkness,
sitting by this fire of becoming.
MAYA (OUR CAT)
by Eugene Berson
I am tempted by anxiety
to compare myself to the man
in the old black and white movie trapped
in an air bubble of a sunken ship,
pinned down by a fallen pipe unable to move
watching the water level crawling up his chest
he can almost count
the breaths remaining to him
but look out at my orange cat
warming herself in the sun
blending in perfectly with the pine needles
fully aware of the possibility of death
yet able to relish each
moment of warmth with calm disdain
toward the human world
when I call her name
she grants me a slight pivot of one ear
unwilling to avert her full gaze
from the miraculous field before her.
Gene has been attending Mountain Stream for three years, maintaining a practice in his haphazard but diligent way. Things he’s heard in Dharma talks there have helped his poetry many times. Not only have those insights clarified concerns he’s been struggling with, but they have helped him realize his thoughts and feelings are part of a continuum that has flowed through people’s minds since the beginning of humankind and continue to flow through those people around him. They have often dispelled the blinding illusion of isolation imposed by an exaggerated Self, and restored a sense of inter-connectedness within him that has provided great solace. The little poem is an example of this.
by Perissa Busick
Reflecting on the word "home,” I notice the syllable "om" in the center of the word. It leads me to reflect on our homes as sanctuaries for what is most sacred in our lives. In my home, the windows look out at tall oaks, cedars, pines, a red bud tree, a maple, and a tall Sequoia.
But my home is more than the four walls holding sacred art, a Buddha statue and the shelves of books, the spilling over of papers needing attention, and the cat and dog wanting some love. My home is also the trails of Nevada County, the Yuba River, the sky and trees that surround me on my walks.
There is, though, another “home.” There is that part of us we connect to when we are quiet and still, when our hearts open and we feel contentment and peace, part of it all, and we know we are at home with everything and everyone.
Perissa and her family moved here in the early 1980s from Marin where she left behind the sea and open space of West Marin for trees and the community of Nevada County. She is a retired psychotherapist who loves the peace and beauty that surrounds us here.
Photo by Cindy Shaw
by Nory Fussell
Raindrops cascaded from our rooftop onto the row of Elephant Ear plants that lined my bedroom window. Panama’s frequent pre-dawn showers were a musical joy, as gently percussive patterns and melodic variations played out by the drizzle dancing down on those huge jungle leaves, different sized “ears” sounding in differing tones.
Within this cool water music, within the trickle, every now and then, I could just make out the 5/4 quintuple time rhythmic pattern of Dave Brubeck’s beloved and timeless jazz piece, Take Five!
God, the Big Daddio, put that playful touch on the tune, just to wake me laughing.
A few years earlier, at 7, 8 years old, I could be found rockin’ at the radio – Elvis made me dance! Orbison, The Ventures, the Everly Brothers … Music was breath! Little Richard, Cal Tjader … oxygen! Our home was filled with Los Panchos, Vivaldi, Johnny Mathis … and when Brubeck’s combo laid it all out, the universe expanded! I saw God, man! And Take Five still takes me there!
Yes, I was an early disciple in the Church of Evolutionary Music. But it was during the catechism years, during an evening’s grueling lesson in Catholicism, that a Grand Epiphany was offered up.
There I was, at my desk, the dj-in-my-mind spinning, “… goin’ faster than a roller coaster. Love like yours …” Buddy Holly and the Crickets! In my catechism! “A-hey-hey!” Absorbed, swaying, feet tapping, pencil drumming, I was obviously not in the lesson.
The nun for that day was an old dried-up prune-in-a-habit, Sister Ratchet (forgive me, but it is my memory). Sister Ratchet snuck up behind me, clapping her hands with, “NoRy, what are you doing?”
Fire, Brimstone, Reproach to the marrow, she railed against “the music of the devil”, how it invades our young minds and keeps us from knowing God. She flailed about, pointing and preachifying how, “Sinners such as he …” would have to pray a penance for every song sung, for every pulsing platter ever pranced about to.
Her red-faced outburst and castigation sprayed over me, far out-weighing my transgression! But I was protected – Jazz and Rock’n’Roll were my umbrella. Her torrential cloud could not reach the jubilant powers of rhythm, melody, and harmony that were dancing within. This thing she was doing was not my mea culpa!
My soul was being freed from the chains of Churchianity.
Nory first walked in these Yuba hills 46 years ago. The waters, the hills, trees and stones all sang, “Welcome.” He hears them still.
END OF SUMMER BOUNTY
by Kim Jones
12 small new potatoes
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 medium size carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2-3 hot peppers, quartered and seeded
15 - 20 cloves garlic, peeled
5 cups mild vinegar - 2 1/2 cups each white wine and rice vinegars is a good combination
1/4 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
1/2 small head cauliflower
2 ears fresh corn, cut into rounds
3 small bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh herbs
A sprinkle of salt
In a large pot of boiling water, boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes. Drain. Heat oil in a large pot. Sauté the carrots, peppers and garlic just until they start to soften. Add the vinegars, potatoes and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool overnight. Spoon into jars, cover the veggies with vinegar. Store in refrigerator.
Kim Jones is a life long foodie who wishes for you many delicious, nutritious meals.
Photo by Cindy Shaw
Photo by Cindy Shaw
by Susan Solinsky
Holding warm figs in my palm,
their milky sap drops from the stem
and turns sticky as it dries.
Their bulging skin protects
a purple seeded cosmos inside
to evoke another time. Another land arises.
Dust shimmers above red rock and olive groves,
caves dot the high plateaus and below,
in a distant valley, water trickles,
is caught and ringed with palms and goats.
The air is stark, dry, harsher
than the Sierra foothills,
but the figs survive there, like here,
on a good south slope.
With occasional water,
they pull up what’s needed from rocky soil
to make the indigo or pale green fruit
the jays, fox and bears love. Ravens caw nearby.
This perfect autumn day unfolds
like millennium before have -
full of sweetness and honey, dust and prayers for rain.
Perhaps this is what drew me here decades ago
when I pined for summer dryness and red rock:
A whispered memory pulling me closer to home.
Slices of fresh apple, almonds and goat cheese sit on a plate.
A bite of cooked lamb, mint and garlic.
Life swells with such richness on my tongue,
beckons the ones
who travelled before me
searching for home.
Susan honors reading and writing as part of a daily practice along with greeting the cat and each day, arms stretched high and proclaiming, Ah! What a day to be alive.
by Russ Jones
My family moved to Nevada City in 1959 when I was 10 years old. We had moved around a lot in the years prior, following my father’s career as a civilian employee of the Air Force. His assignment to Beale Air Force Base in Marysville, however, brought me to what has been my hometown and spiritual home ever since.
Memories of my youth living and playing on Banner Ridge include: riding my horse to Gold Flat School (a two-room elementary school where the Caltrans yard is now, near the Gold Flat Road freeway off ramp), showing my 4-H sheep at the county fair and sleeping among the hay bales beside the animal pens, “rafting” the DS canal behind my home in full Tom Sawyer persona, and hours spent climbing trees, building tunnels, swimming in the Yuba, and basically being free in the relative wilds that surrounded me.
These were formative years for me and my love for Nevada County grew deep. Following college, military service and then more college, Kim and I “came home” to Nevada City after we married in 1980. We built a house, started our family and careers, and took advantage of every opportunity to be in nature, skiing, hiking, climbing, and camping in our beloved Sierra Nevada mountains.
Like many I suspect, my spiritual life in those years was a bit on hold, busy as I was with family and career, but there were always glimpses into the spiritual world that showed me what awaited when the time would come for spiritual practice to blossom in my life.
This is that time. Returning in 2014 from 20 years living and working abroad, we settled back in Nevada City. Both of us had begun meditating, guided by Jack Kornfield’s CDs and a small library of dharma writings from the Dalai Lama, Pema Chodron, Thich Nhat Hanh, and others. It wasn’t until we connected with Mt. Stream however, that our practice found roots, kindred souls, and friends. The rest, as they say, is history. Every day we count the blessings of this life and our awakening to what, as John often says, we knew all along – the deep peace and growing understanding that comes from being still and living with loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.
With deep appreciation and much metta to you all.
Russ Jones is the Executive Director of Mountain Stream Meditation.
LOVING THE UNGRASPABLE
by Gavrila Nikhila
I am the light I have longed for.
I am the love I have craved.
I am the attention I’ve reached for.
I am the heart that gave.
I am all that I’ve longed to be.
I am all that has come before me.
A spiral revolving, undoing, revealing.
I am me.
And all that I long for is all that you long for.
So I am you.
And yet, subtle changes are constantly taking place.
So there is no defined me to grasp, nor you to hold.
I understand now, that leaning into the awareness that always is and always was, I see the inherent rising and falling of all phenomena.
Nothing to do nor not do.
Nothing to be nor not be.
And so are you.
Gavrila Nikhila is an adult and teen mindfulness educator living in Nevada City.
NO DIRECTION HOME
by Corey Hitchcock
Squatting on a fissured ridge-top in the Sierras, I run my finger along an ancient line etched by rocks dragging in glacial ice. Around me on the expansive stone surface, tiny repetitive patterns reveal themselves. These marks: snakes, hands, eclipsed suns, animals, and what look like maps, were painstakingly pecked into being by hands like mine. I am drawn to this exposed landscape for traces of a deep relatedness that I crave in this turbulent time. This place has a resonance for me. So much seems lost of our conversation with this remarkable planet.
Grinding holes near the pictographs are all the same size and depth, evenly spaced for communal pounding of medicines and food. I hear and see people across time, laughing and gesturing, working together. This place at the confluence of rivers was once home to many people, a generous rest-stop after a long, difficult migration. This sanctuary reverberates like a bow drawn slowly across the strings of a cello. All living beings, plants, stones and rivers are included. Near me, a bright green Praying Mantis and a tiny, ebony Fence Lizard face off clinging to a huge, granite erratic. The enormous uncrossable sheet of ice which deposited this truck sized boulder, is now just a ghost. Things change. Even very large and unimpeachable things like glaciers, like home.
A friend from long ago invited me to visit her and her new partner in their mobile home, a two vehicle caravan they now live in as they wander back and forth across the continent. The forested RV park they were temporarily living in was enormous and packed with vehicles of every size and shape. Is this the new normal? I left as quickly as I could, sweating in fear of this lifestyle as a necessary choice. And yet, is home necessarily stationary?
This morning as I packed to leave for my hike, a tiny fawn, still in spots, mewled in confusion at a new wire fence. The comforting scents of mother, home, family had somehow misled him. He could find no way to follow them past this strange obstruction. What is the strange new obstruction that intersects my understanding of home, safety, ease? Are we all feeling this surprising disconnect?
A Zen koan asks: Why can’t an enlightened woman free herself from prisons drawn on the ground? Well, who decides to draw them? I ask myself. Ancient people were always moving. Is my concept of home a prison on the ground?
I catch the insistent shimmer of unobstructed ease.
Corey Hitchcock - Zen practitioner, interdisciplinary artist, and editor with Pacific Zen Institute’s Uncertainty Club, aspires to the job title: Interpreter of the Wild.
WE ARE GUPPIES ON OUR WAY HOME
by Steve Solinsky
We are guppies trapped in an aquarium, but conceived too tight,
swimming for our lives.
Who keeps us here? And ignores our suffering?
We hope for a kinder keeper
whose crystal bag someday may scoop us away
to our rightful home
We have yet the eyes to see
beyond the edges of this world -
into a great and endless sea
where someday we may swim
to find ourselves FREE.
If you're of right mind, and right view,
serene, with open heart,
worry not. You’re in the bag.
Rejoice to the current you swim.
Let it saturate your heart-mind-body,
permeated to the bone
into grateful spirit flesh.
Through liquid crystal waves of Love
this practice glides,
to one day bring you home.
Steve is a longtime Mountain Streamer, Nevada City artist photographer, and previous partner in the Mowen Solinsky Gallery. His focus is his own creative experience, and he likes to share insights into this integral aspect of being human through imagery and words.
& ORANGE DRAGONFLIES
by Jennifer India Scott
Once a friend asked me to write about home.
I am still wondering how to include everything?!
Box fashioned of porcupine quills
Water crayons yeast doggies
Books about writing & sweaters
Vases of yellow rose, Alder and Willow
Favorite all-time stuff, places, people, ideas, ribbons, critters, bumper stickers, bracelets, begonias
Beloveds in Council or Kitchen or Car
Spiderwebs & nametags & buffalo roaming
And dancing too & exclamation points
One breath at a time
Yes, I am still thinking about this
And greeting and thanking as I go
Exploring this world called home
Smiling, one breath at a time
# # #
Jennifer India Scott is honored to work as the Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator at Mountain Stream. Her favorite bumper sticker (seen at Spirit Rock Meditation) is: ‘’May All Beings Be Stoked’’!
by Cassandra Wahlstrom
Home is where the Heart finds Safe Sanctuary
Beauty Peace Deep Comfort
Interior Space Sustenance
Rest in Heart’s Spaciousness
Prana in the Garden
Full Wet Bath Spritz Shower
A time for the Mirror
Place Time Being