It has been dry where I live. That means there may be a particularly colorful fall. But these days it seems impossible to predict what will happen. After all the rain last summer, colorful mushrooms sprang up everywhere.
In 2010, bright leaf colors sometimes created stained glass patterns where the light shown through overlapping leaves. We can be thankful such glory is still here to marvel at even as things become more unpredictable.
The Heart Sutra calligraphy on this plate called out to me. This sutra is central to the Mahayana Buddhist tradition that still flourishes in Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan and China as well as parts of India and Nepal. In more recent times, Mahayana Buddhism has also spread to the Americas and Europe.
Commentaries suggest the Heart Sutra’s wisdom fosters compassion and harmony, and that it can make fear drop away. I like this modern chanted version very much: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=958qchBNs60&t=56s. One of many English translations appears below:
Heart SutraTranslation by the Kuan Um School of Zen.
Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva when practicing deeply the Prajna Paramita perceives that all five skandhas are empty and is saved from all suffering and distress.
Shariputra, form does not differ from emptiness, emptiness does not differ from form. That which is form is emptiness, that which is emptiness form.
The same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness.
Shariputra, all dharmas are marked with emptiness; they do not appear or disappear, are not tainted or pure, do not increase or decrease.
Therefore, in emptiness no form, no feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness.
No eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no color, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no object of mind; no realm of eyes and so forth until no realm of mind consciousness.
No ignorance and also no extinction of it, and so forth until no old age and death and also no extinction of them.
No suffering, no origination, no stopping, no path, no cognition, also no attainment with nothing to attain.
The Bodhisattva depends on Prajna Paramita and the mind is no hindrance; without any hindrance no fears exist. Far apart from every perverted view one dwells in Nirvana.
In the three worlds all Buddhas depend on Prajna Paramita and attain Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi.
Therefore know that Prajna Paramita is the great transcendent mantra, is the great bright mantra, is the utmost mantra, is the supreme mantra which is able to relieve all suffering and is true, not false. So proclaim the Prajna Paramita mantra, proclaim the mantra which says:
I first met Ken Matsuzaki on a trip to Japan. The first photo is of his pottery on display when I visited in 1997. After I returned, I was delighted to see Ken again, as well as examples of his latest work in Boston at the Pucker Gallery, which continues their long-term relationship with the master potter.
Entranced by the exuberant surfaces of the works on display in 2010, I asked and was granted permission to take closeups. I hope the photos below convey some sense for the joyful adventure of looking closely at their remarkable diversity.
The Japanese tea garden or roji may appear to be a natural woodland path, but it is actually a designed transition to the tranquil world of Japanese tea ceremony. Tea gardens induce a spirit of openness by bringing the tea ceremony values of harmony, respect, purity and tranquility to nature’s asymmetrical design.
To tend even a very small tea garden is to place oneself into nature’s rhythms. That provides a certain solace even in this summer of unusual heat. I water the moss, and watch it puff up and turn a deeper green. That feels as if I were the one becoming fuller and deeper.
I remember how, after I cleaned and filled the water basin and sprinkled water on the stepping stones as a sign of welcome, the cicadas began their evening song, as if they too, wanted to welcome my guests.
As you look in closer and closer at a slab of Morrisonite jasper, the dream images are still detailed and fascinating. The closeups below provide an idea of the wide range of patterns in this colorful jasper from a single location in Eastern Oregon – an area that is spectacularly beautiful in its own right.
I can get lost looking for good sections to enlarge. Three of these photos show the source, an image taken from its center and how that section looks enlarged and hung on a wall. Morrisonite provides endless options for that kind of treatment as well as for framing beautiful small sections as cabochon art.
Arlington Heights, Massachusetts, USA where I live, like Boulder Colorado, and a number of other places, has rocks in all sizes. In fact, a major reason I bought the house where I live is because the turtle-shaped top of a large glacier-scraped granite outcrop was visible through the kitchen window.
Once I found the courage to climb to the top of an outcrop in Menotomy Rocks Park, looking down I could see Hills pond through the trees. The contours of this secluded high up spot, with blueberry bushes and natural rock arrangements scattered here and there made it feel quite magical.
Any number of these rock arrangements could be the highlight of a Japanese garden, or for that matter, arranged in a bowl of sand for indoor viewing.
The ducks and turtles did not seem to mind the algae, but I missed what the light could do playing on the pond’s once clear waters (lower photos). When I wrote about trouble at Menotomy Rocks Park a year ago, I felt sure my town would invest in maintaining the health of Hills pond. But the green scum kept spreading, and I began to worry.
This morning as I walked around the pond, I noticed a sign stating the pond had been treated. When I looked to see if the waters were indeed clearing, a bullfrog croaked as if in confirmation.
When I first met Giselle, she suggested I come by for a free Japanese tea ceremony lesson to see if I liked it. I took her up on that offer. After many years of lessons at her house, I added a tea hut (below) to my yard. We kept in touch after she moved to France.
In addition to teaching the traditional Japanese art of tea ceremony, Giselle makes beautiful tea bowls and is a published poet. I was honored when she suggested we work together on a sequence sharing haiku impressions on the subject of MADO (‘window’ in Japanese), as winter turned to spring this Tiger year. MADO is the poetic word given by Japan’s Emperor for 2022.
M A D O Kathleen Fink, Arlington, Massachusetts, US & Giselle Maya, St. Martin de Castillon, France
gazing out the window all is stillness in the garden what does my cat see
way up there a flock of birds migrate across my open window
no one looking in snow on the tea hut window no one looking out
fox on his way to a morning tea gathering Sen Sotan invited*
reading by the window pattering snow whispers all morning long
sun-warmed nap Shiki-cat watching goldfinches mountain’s spring melt
brand new leaves capturing raindrops one by one
beginning of May swallows have returned time to choose a summer tea bowl
walking this dewy path a window flashes gold as dusk descends
perched in the olive tree Tora-cat moon gazing
* Sen Sotan is the grandson of Sen no Rikyu, the great tea master. Sen Sotan was deeply interested in the Chado tradition and many tea people welcomed him to attend their chakai – sometimes he appeared in the form of a fox.
The respectful sharing of tea and honest open dialogue is aligned with what Lowder (2009) found in reviewing the literature on servant leadership including: mutual power, collaborative participation, non-judgment, a focus on believing in and empowering people, providing opportunities to learn, and valuing differences. Two particularly notable aspects were “openness to spiritual, emotional, and mental inspiration and revelation” (p. 12), and a focus on “overcoming… fear through creating shared meaning” (p. 13).
I find that holding nurturing safe space for authentic relating makes “aha” moments more possible. Marshall (2016) notes that an intention to improve wellbeing may not lead to action until it is supported by a strong emotional connection, “The aha moment is essentially the sweet spot where the emotional brain and rational brain finally integrate” (Marshall, 2016, p. 65).
Edwards, Elliot, Iszatt-White and Schedlitzki (2015) discuss the potential use of creative techniques like tea & dialogue to support the integration of cognition and emotion that is accessed through the body (Nummenmaa & Glerean & Hari & Hietanen, 2014): “leadership cannot be reduced to an entirely rational process, there has been an increasing interest in emotional and social intelligence in the leadership literature…with arts-based methods and other creative techniques gaining ground…It is argued that these approaches have the potential to connect cognitive and emotional processes” (p. 2).
Fry & Krieger (2009) describe servant leadership, which they rank highly in their model of being-centered leadership as follows: “Servant leadership consists of helping others discover their inner spirit, earning and keeping the trust of others, valuing service over self-interest, and role modeling effective listening…The most effective leadership in this view is not provided by those who seek leadership roles but rather by those who have a compelling vision and desire to serve others first” (Fry & Krieger, 2009, p. 1682).
The embodied awareness of tea & dialogue is particularly useful for leadership that works through supportive relationships. Brendel and Bennett (2016) speak of the benefits of “a practical model of embodied leadership where individuals learn ways to deepen awareness to include both the mind and the body as an interdependent system” (p. 409). They concluded embodied and aware leadership “builds resilience and resourcefulness, and improves relationships in complex environments” (Brendel & Bennett, 2016, p. 409).
Brendel, W. & Bennett, C. (2016). Learning to embody leadership through mindfulness and somatics practice. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 18(3), 409-425. Doi: 10.1177/1523422316646068
Edwards, G., & Elliott, C., & Iszatt-White, M. & Schedlitzki, D. (2015). Using creative techniques in leadership learning and development: An introduction. Advances in Developing HumanResources. 17(3) 279-288, Doi: 10.1177/1523422315586616
Fry, L., & Krieger, M. (2009). Towards a theory of being-centered leadership: Multiple levels of being as context for effective leadership. Human Relations, 62(11), 1667-1696. Doi: 10.1177/0018726709346380
All the Insight Dialogue guidelines are fundamental to establishing the meditative qualities for Insight Dialogue relational practice. Without first Pausing, Relaxing, Opening and Attuning to Emergence, I do not know how it would be possible to Listen Deeply and Speak the Truth. In that spirit, during a recent Insight Dialogue practice that I co-facilitated with my guide and mentor, Jan Surrey (bio below), I paused and directed attention both inward and outward, and then called on all of those guidelines to discern what might want to be spoken in that moment. I heard myself saying that not only people but all of nature listens and speaks and that I always come back to gratitude.
Listening Deeply makes use of the amazing receptive capacity of our sensitive body-heart-minds. We can harness energy and mindfulness to direct attention both outward and inward at the same time. There is deep beauty in opening to the internal and external flow of all that we can sense. That can provide access to wisdom and compassion in that moment, the moment we are alive. Still, I sometimes get lost in my own responses. When that happens, I gently return to mindfulness with kindness and compassion. There is a lot going on at the same time. We take in words and match those with meanings and associations. We take in tones of voice, and changing facial expressions. We participate in the flowing “music” arising between us. Deep listening as meditative practice means allowing oneself to be touched by the unexpected, to open to whatever arises. Awe is possible, so is learning to welcome being influenced.
Speaking the Truth involves listening internally, discerning, and then speaking emerging truth in relation to a specific contemplation. Not stating what we think is true about the topic. Not sharing theoretical, or scientific truth. We use the support of the Insight Dialogue guidelines Pause, Relax, Open, Attune to Emergence, and Listen Deeply in relation to the contemplation. We draw on the whole body-heart-mind in investigating and speaking with an intention to adopt the teachings on wise speech: to speak what is true and not false; to speak what is beneficial and timely – is it appropriate to say that now? We attempt to speak in a way that is gentle, nonviolent and kind, and finally, to speak from compassion with an intention to liberate from suffering. We take care, knowing that speaking like listening, can influence us and others in ways that matter.
Listening and speaker inter are and work together. The wisdom of bringing attentive care to listening and speaking is clear from many Buddhist teachings:
Right View (Anguttara Nikaya): “there are these two conditions for the the arising of right view, Which two? The voice of another and appropriate (or wise) attention.”
The Holy Life(Kalyanamittata): “Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life.”
Right Speech (Samma Vaca) “One tries to abandon wrong speech & to enter into right speech: This is one’s right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong speech & to enter & remain in right speech: This is one’s right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort & right mindfulness & run & circle around right speech.”
When listening deeply and speaking the truth something quite remarkable can happen – a working toward and aligning with what is true now. That creates an opening to release and ease that comes from a place beyond the personal. It is also a means to cultivate wisdom and compassion that bring with them a greater capacity for peace, happiness and wise action. In so many small and large ways, we really do practice Listening Deeply and Speaking the Truth for the benefit of all beings.
Instructions for dyad dialogue practice:
I invite you to Pause, Relax, Open, and Attune to Emergence as you explore how Listening Deeply & Speaking the Truth work together.
S1 – Speaker 1 speaks for 4 minutes while Listener 1 listens. Pause
L1 -Listener 1 reflects for 4 minutes on the process of listening. Pause
The Partners switch roles (Listener 1 becomes Speaker 2)
S2 – Speaker 2 speaks for 4 minutes while Listener 2 listens. Pause
L2 – Listener 2 reflects for 4 minutes on the process of listening. Pause
Open – 4 minutes of open exchange with no formal speaker or listener roles.
Note: At the start of dialogue practice, participants take a minute to introduce themselves and determine who will speak first. At the end, participants thank their partners for the opportunity to practice together.
Contemplations for dialogue practice:
When speaking: What do you notice about how your partner’s practice of listening affects you as you Speak the Truth?
When listening: What did you notice about how your partner’s practice of speaking affected you as you Listened Deeply?
During Open Dialogue: What is it like speaking and listening with formal roles dropped?
It Might Sound Like This:
As Speaker: I notice I am pausing to see what is here. There is anxiety about not knowing what to say. Sensing you watching me, I feel a bit self-conscious. Noticing your smile, I feel myself relax. As I pause and settle, I can sense you are not judging me. That is encouraging.
As Listener: I noticed that you really took your time figuring out what to share. That helped me pause and relax. When you tilted your head, I felt welcome. When your tone of voice softened, that affected how I understood your words. I could feel myself bringing in energy, becoming really interested in what you had to say.
I invite you to draw on the support of all the guidelines and make good use of the Pause before, during, and after speaking.
With deep gratitude for all the support and guidance from my Insight Dialogue Teacher, Janet Surrey, who teaches Insight Dialogue retreats worldwide as well as leading a monthly practice group in the Boston area. She serves on the Teachers Council for the Insight Dialogue Community. Starting in 2007, she has been working with Gregory Kramer, founding teacher of Insight Dialogue meditation, a relational meditation practice within the Theravādan Buddhist tradition. She is a practicing clinical psychologist and a founding scholar of the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute at Wellesley College. She is also on the board of the Institute for Meditation and Psychology.