Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

go home!

There’s an article on the Tricycle website about ‘original nature,’ and the Buddhist saying ‘return to your original state.’ I like to think the admonition is more like ‘Go home!’

Because that’s what it is, our original nature — whatever that means. It’s where it all began, where it all ends. It’s the home stretch, home base, going home.

The word comes from the Old Norse, among other origins, where one version means ‘world’ as well as well as home residence. And that, to me, is perfect Buddhism & beginner’s heart.

Yesterday a student in my class said he has little patience w/ national identities and cultures. We should be more concerned with being humans together, he said. The world is our home, he argued. Not a single country. Not any more.

And while I understand what he’s saying, I love my home. I love the Abraham Darby roses coming back from the horrific summer (the hottest in American weather records, anywhere). I love the bees that buzz the bird bath as I fill it, waiting for me to finish so they can drink. I love the honeyed afternoon light that spills through the window beside my desk as I write.

But I also love each of the many places I’ve lived around the world: a villa on a street in a former French colony; a tiny 3rd floor walk-up in a hotel in Algiers; a small house on a small lot in a city built by oil, in Saudi Arabia. And of course my grandmother’s one-bedroom house with sleeping porch, with the mimosa hanging over the front curb. Not only is each a part of me, but something of me remains in each of them, walks the rooms still.

That’s how I interpret the ‘Go home!’ command. The world is my home — perhaps because I’ve been an expatriate for much of my life. I’ve made gardens in deserts, in the tropics, outside rentals in bad neighbourhoods, in my dreams and even my nightmares.

The article in Tricycle says that original nature is like a gong, like the one my father brought back from Africa. From the bottom, a gong looks like a bell. But from the top it’s obviously a gong. Although it rings, like a bell… So home is then and now, gong and bell, with that lovely metal music each one sings.

Beginner’s heart is going home — back to that first look we give the world that will be the home where we live, at birth. We open our eyes, as my newly born sons did in my exhausted arms, and here we are. Home.

So that’s what I’m trying to do. Get back home. Nice thought, isn’t it?

 

 

‘doubts and loves’ ~

I ran into an old poem-friend today — Yehudi Amichai’s “The Place of Right & Wrong.” I’m thinking about the images — how ‘the place where are right/ is hard and trampled/ like a yard.’ But doubts? ‘doubts and loves/ dig up the world.’

Right is a kind of scorched-earth policy, if you think about it. I’m trying (hard, as usual :)) to be less opinionated. Given that I spent class today discussing why white people need to be allies — re: pro-active — against racism, ethnocentrism and prejudice, it may not even be possible for me to separate ‘opinions’ from ‘beliefs.’

I still think it’s possible for folks to get along. But increasingly, as religions require ‘stands against,’ I find myself up against folks’ religious beliefs. Which I don’t believe I have the right to try to undo. In fact, I don’t believe anyone has the right to try to convert someone. If you’re living an exemplary life, full of joy and love and compassion, folks probably will want what you have :).

On the other hand, if your ‘religion’ calls for beating up gays, disrupting funerals, bombing clinics or banks, then probably folks won’t want what you have.

So I’m going to try to cultivate more ‘doubts & loves.’ Doubt is a good navigator — you may not know where you’re going, but chances are you’ll enjoy the journey more. Especially if there’s love in the pilot’s seat…

poetry, memory & 9/11 ~

Sometimes only poetry suffices… When my mind refuses to comprehend hatred, murder, war and profound grief, poetry is a map to somewhere out of fire and ash. A map through the darkness to a light that may still be a long way off. Even now ~

Here are other, better words remembering the ongoing tragedy which began for so many people that fateful September 11th, 2001. Thank you, Philip Metres and the Poetry Foundation — one of my favourite organisations — for reminding me that poetry is more than words. It can also be music that begins healing, records injustice. It can be a voice for those who are silent.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/article/242580

 

 

kindergarten teacher bashing ~

Okay, now I’m just mad. And I’m trying — as always! — to do something other than just fume. Here it is, my attempt to address grievances.  It’s far too late in the game to redress them….:(

Here’s a link to an interview w/ that spokesperson for the ultra-conservative, Ann Coulter. In it, Coulter dismisses what kindergarten teachers do. It’s not ‘real’ work, she says. Not ‘manly’ work. Really? This woman who has never entered a kindergarten classroom, most likely (she has no children), assumes she has a CLUE??

I am sooo tired of people bashing teachers. But kindergarten teachers? Really?? These incredibly hard-working men & women who not only wipe noses, tie shoes, hug and comfort and intervene and love, but also guide our most precious resource — our children — through learning how to learn? Who work on pre-reading skills (yes, that’s a real job); who introduce numbers to children whose idea of counting is 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, eleventy, 100; who teach how to sit in seats, how to collaborate, how to take turns; who cope w/ the fears of school some students enter with… The list of what kindergarten teachers do would frighten an American president!

Seriously? When did teachers become fair game? When did the honour that by far the majority of the world has for those who help our children enter the worlds of the mind become hostility? And why? I don’t get it.

I don’t know a single evil teacher. Really. And I know THOUSANDS.

(Yes, thousands… it’s my JOB) I know some I don’t care for — many who disagree w/ my faith & politics. But they are unfailingly tolerant of me and my ideas and ideologies. On the other hand? I know MANY evil politicians. And I use the word ‘evil’ knowingly. I firmly believe that there are people in office whose major objective is not the good of the American people, but the success of their individual party and their individual office. Men & women who are willing to sacrifice human lives and decency for power and gain. I don’t know of a single teacher who would ever do that.

So here’s what I propose: if Ann Coulter believes kindergarten teachers have it sooo easy, find some financially strapped neo-cons who have children, and let Coulter teach them for a year. Let her cope w/ IEPs, lackadaisical and even abusive parents, district paperwork, the chaos that is 5-year-olds, and then let’s evaluate her … as administrators feel all teachers should be evaluated — by how well her students do. NOT on how hard she has worked to overcome the poverty, the bad facilities, the lack of materials, but on how well someone who has no education in teaching, knows only the ‘law’, and has no kids of her own is able to work w/ the restless, literal, creative minds of 5-year-olds. Oh! And then let’s ask her how she feels about teaching as ‘real’ work…

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