Thursday, September 25, 2003

Practicing in the evening, now, instead of the morning. More noise in the house, but it puts practice in competition with the dead chill-out evening time rather than with the fruitful morning work time. We'll see.

I suppose I could try to translate Heine's poem, though I find Heine's simplicity daunting. He always comes into English either chirpy or nasty -- so hard to modulate that irony properly, and to make the Stimmungsbruch, the "breaking of the mood," as sharp and unexpected as he does.

The sweet wishes blossom
And then they wither away,
And blossom and wither again--
So it goes on to the grave.

I know it, and it darkens
All pleasure and all love;
My heart is so very clever
And its bleeding will not stop.

Oh well. It's really breathtaking in German, I promise, and it doesn't have pitiful rhymes such as "love/stop," either.

Lunch with Roger. He told me how he came to the dharma: driving over Santiam Pass in the snow, 55 mph, and someone made a left turn in front of him. He walked away from the collision, albeit with a circular bruise faithfully outlining the steering wheel on his breast, and a bright red seatbelt-burn baldric. But it made him realize that death might not politely wait its turn, phone ahead, and come calling in his old age: it might drop in at any time, like a tactless in-law, whether he was ready or not.

So he started reading about death, everything he could get his hands on, and eventually came to Sogyal Rinpoche's "Tibetan Book of Living and Dying." Thence to Michael's community college class on "Buddhist Perspectives on Death and Dying." That was ten years ago. And now he's planning to do the three-year cloistered retreat just as soon as we can raise the money to get the retreat land put together for it.

I wonder about writing a fund-raising "article" (one needn't call it a fund-raiser, of course) just telling the stories of how the ten-some people who want to do the three-year retreat at Goldendale came to the dharma, and came to the willingness -- eagerness, in fact -- to go into retreat for three-plus years.

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