To Know a Tree

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It’s hard not to see
the sky as crying,
the trees as reaching
for things taught to them
in dreams, as whispers
in the interminable night,
not to see loneliness
in winter’s swift taking
of autumn’s leaves,
and hope when in spring,
buds sprout green and true.
Do the mountains
grumble with discontent
before they explode
their molten heat
on an unprepared city?
Do the rocks sigh
from the burden
of absorbing our pain
over the centuries?
I ask these questions,
and understand the work
I have to do, to sit
in silence with all beings,
until I know where
suffering really lies,
and where it is
we have our comfort,
our nourishing, our healing.

– Tammy Takahashi

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Two Minds, One Love

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The side looking left, then right,
Lowered to the ground, skybound,
To the child inside, the world wide,
Here and there, this ever-motion,
For every turn, a revolution awaits,
The answers around every corner.
But what do we seek? What ails us?
What needs persistently plague us?
Can we make our two heads one,
Our two sets of eyes, ears, our two minds?
Will we stop pinning on the world
Every last desire and hope,
All our sadnesses turned to blame?
Or, can we see how we’ve become,
and find some peace with our two selves,
And try to find all the ways
They copulate, love, hate, entwine,
And dive right into the middle of things,
And become the war we want to end,
Until at last, it turns to dust,
Leaving our most bare self exposed,
And tarnish it will, though gold remains?

– tammy takahashi

Authenticity: When “I” is Hard to Come By

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

Authenticity is an inspiring word.

For me, it conjures images of vulnerability and nakedness, being stripped of the means we have for hiding and self-delusion.

I long for a world where we can be our beautiful, imperfect selves and freely express who we are; I recoil when I feel I’m encountering deceptions, lies, or affected fashioning of selves. I’m absolutely sure I’ve been too judgmental, but since I was little, I’ve been very sensitive about what I perceived to be disingenuous behaviour.

I didn’t quite know what to do with that feeling as a little girl, or why I was reacting so strongly, and the last thing I had the instinct to do was examine my own behavior. For a long time now, I’ve been turning this sometimes oversensitive gaze to myself, and I’ve all but frozen, paralyzed by remorse over my own culpability in this authenticity arena.

Know thyself.

Knowing who we are—our sense of self—is the basis for everything that we do. The catch is that knowing ourselves down to the core is a long, arduous task that can take a lifetime to achieve, yet we have to embark on the task of being ourselves out there in the world long before we might reach the desired level of self-knowledge.

What an interesting situation! We try to be ourselves all the time, and watch these selves disintegrate over and over. No wonder it’s so difficult to be as consistently authentic as possible. We know that we are changing all the time. This is theory, it is science, it is Dharma, it is incontrovertible truth.

Change, however, happens at so many physical and psychological speeds that are so often at odds.

At the molecular level, we are zipping by in a state of ever-changing flux; we are a dance party of frenzied motion, unable to be pinned down. There is quite literally nothing to lock into place for scrutiny.

On a grosser level, we have our bodies that we can observe with our bare eyes, which despite the ever-present changes, remain familiar to us over time, even though our baby-selves and older incarnations actually and seemingly bear little or no resemblance to one another.

Have you ever, like me, been shocked to take a real look at yourself in the mirror and find that what’s staring back at you doesn’t at all appear like the younger, more glowing image you have in your head of you-from-years-past?

Our minds and psyches are what allow for our perceptions of continuity, and this both enables us to get by in a functional way and also gets in the way of our growth.

How do we reconcile the deep-rooted need to accept and embrace the realities of change, and our love of the more “permanent” aspects of ourselves and our relationships?

How do we remain authentic throughout the turbulent ride of inner and outer forces influencing us?

It’s strange, to think of being able to watch my own cells under a microscope, to say nothing of my thoughts, in meditation, coming and going at an alarming rate, and simultaneously speak of an “I”, a person who loves mountains and sitting under trees, who savours that first sip of coffee in the morning, who loves green more than grey, who revels in picking up a pen to begin a journaling session.

How much do I sacrifice by letting go of these identities of self, and also how much do I sacrifice by holding on?

This is all still (fascinating) theory. In Buddhism, we learn of the principles of anicca (impermanence) and anata (no-self).

Theory aside, I was inspired to write this because of a much more personal and intimate feeling—at this moment, I feel authenticity ebbing away. It comes as a muse, flirts with me, dances between the words I put to page, but then, to my eye anyway, all but disappears by the time I finish working.

I feel I’m running after who I think I am—who I’ve been, who others see, who I want to be—rather than actually experiencing, and then sharing of myself authentically.

All these selves are blending and authenticity seems far removed compared to the simple feeling of unity I have when I’m unplugged, out in nature, communing with trees and mountains. In this state, the fragments threaten to fly off into oblivion and “me” starts to feel like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book—not that those aren’t fun.

Maybe this sombre feeling comes from a jagged mind in need of rest, or even a longer vacation (from myself?) so that the heart has a chance to assert herself, find her deepest connections. The heart is unencumbered by fears of self-annihilation, but I don’t listen to her enough.

Sometimes I forget I’m even looking for her truths.

The heart is where everything must spill forth from, where the problem of authenticity has no reason to exist. It’s scary, the idea of putting these ever-revolving thoughts and fears aside when I have been so sure they could lead me toward the solutions to riddles that have teased me.

I do know I’m not afraid of silence, even when it attracts fears in their wildest forms. The storms will inevitably pass, and on their way out, hint at the vibrant self in their wake.

 

 

I in the Universe.

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

 

Who am I, and what is the universe?

With some training, I’ve learned that I can see illness, health and all the happinesses with a quick scan of a body part, because everything large is contained in everything small, once you start looking.

Look closely, examine the little details for a grand portrait. And the other way around? I know I am contained in the universe, but where can I see it, see me? I can only look within; as of yet, I don’t know how to see my imprint in the stars.

I just have to believe it’s there because I know that I am here.

I feel this. Things move through me that leave me wondering and sometimes so confused. Lately it’s somewhere in the middle. I am in between things. Maybe a shift is taking place. The things that used to confuse me have either disappeared or else I’ve become adept at living around these confusions.

Not because they don’t matter, but for the simple fact that they don’t cling to me anymore, leaving me free to live in a world without their strong presence.

At the same time, some of the great passions are gone too. I’m not sure what I need to create, or talk to people about. When I used to feel this way, depression was near, like a shadow. Now, there’s a feeling of peace.

Still, uneasiness lingers. I believe that to live a long and full life, passion is necessary. Purpose is necessary. Maybe that’s what these travels have been about: looking past my familiar archive of me-ness, and up to the stars.

Up there I can be a part of something other than myself. I can look up and my gaze can be reflected anywhere, and if I don’t think too much, I can find the reflection of that gaze and follow it to where I need to be.

Every day I can hear my heart sing a little more. I can listen to music and feel parts of my body vibrating. It makes me want to tell my mind that while I have depended on it so much, I need to let it go. It has convinced me that there is illness where there is health.

It has allowed me to indulge in sadness when joy is the obvious state of things. It tells me again and again what I should not be doing when all there is to do in this world is to be free. I almost understand this.

I almost accept that the rain and the sun come at surprising moments here on the island, in beautiful southern Thailand, and that whichever one comes is perfect.

Then, when I look at my tongue or my palm, and see lines and cracks and marks, I can also see the pureness in canvas on which they lie.

 

*This was first published in Rebelle Society, here.

 

I in the Universe (There’s No War in World)

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

I in the Universe

(Thailand)

I am a microcosm of the universe.

My palm, tongue (my latest obsession), ear, is a microcosm of me.

Who am I and what is the universe? Trained, I can see illness, health and all the happinesses with a quick scan of a body part, because everything large is contained in everything small, once you start looking.

Look closely, examine the little details for a grand portrait. And the other way around? I know I am contained in the universe, but where can I see it, see me? I can only look within; as of yet, I don’t know how to see my imprint in the stars.

I just have to believe it’s there because I know that I am here.

I feel this. Things move through me that leave me wondrous and sometimes so confused. Lately it’s somewhere in the middle. I am in between things. Maybe a shift is taking place. The things that used to confuse me have either disappeared or else I’ve become adept at living around these confusions. Not because they don’t matter, but for the simple fact that they don’t cling to me anymore, leaving me free to live in a world without their strong presence.

At the same time, some of the great passions are gone too. I’m not sure what I need to create, or to talk to people about. When I used to feel this way, depression was near, like a shadow. Now, there’s more of a feeling of peace.

Still, uneasiness lingers. I believe that to live a long, full life, passion is necessary. Purpose is necessary. Maybe that’s what these travels have been about: looking past my familiar archive of me-ness, and up to the stars.

Up there I can be a part of something other than myself. I can look up and my gaze can be reflected anywhere, and if I don’t think too much, I can find the reflection of that gaze and follow it to where I need to be.

Everyday, I can hear my heart sing a little more. I can listen to music and feel parts of my body vibrating. It makes me want to tell my mind that while I have depended on it so much, I need to let it go. It has convinced me that there is illness where there is health.

It has allowed me to indulge in sadness when joy is the obvious state of things. It tells me again and again what I should not be doing when all there is to do in this world is to be free. I almost understand this.

I almost accept that the rain and the sun come at surprising moments here on the island, in beautiful southern Thailand, and that whichever one comes is perfect. Then, when I look at my tongue or my palm, and see lines and cracks and marks, I can also see the pureness in canvas on which they lie.