Sweeping aside dead thoughts

Image result for yellow october leaves


October, 1968:

Swept leaves all morning,
racing after each with bamboo broom,
sweeping aside dead thoughts.

Who’s trying to sleep on zendo floor?
Who opens door, slips out, pissing
by light of autumn’s slender moon.

Who wonders: Are those shooting stars,
or police shotguns in Berkeley?

Joel Weishaus (October 1968), from Five Panels from The Monastery of The Pond Dragon: In Memory of Soen Nakagawa Roshi


In the Quiet Zendo
some of the flying maple leaves
are dancing.

Soen Nakagawa Roshi (1907-1984)


Around and around the house the leaves fall thick—but never fast, for they come circling down with a dead lightness that is sombre and slow. Let the gardener sweep and sweep the turf as he will, and press the leaves into full barrows, and wheel them off, still they lie ankle-deep.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870), Bleak House

Swept leaves all morning,

racing after each with bamboo broom,

sweeping aside dead thoughts.

–Joel Weishaus, October 1968


When you find that your original mind is pure mind, you awaken.

You cannot wash a lump of clay in water, but if you keep the water quiet and calm, all the impure stuff in it will sink. You will find the water clear. When you keep your mind quiet in meditation, all impurities settle. The things that come into your mind from the outside and your original quality of mind will be clearly separated, and your mind will become clear as crystal. At that moment, this clear mind connects your individual consciousness to universal consciousness. You become a being with universal consciousness, a bodhisattva. A bodhisattva is a sentient being who has a universal, awakened mind. Awakened beings possess unified, harmonious minds. Your mind will become unified, harmonious with all others. Our minds have become different and separative, but they are not originally separate and different. Originally, they are all unified, harmonious. When you realize this attainment of universal, unified mind, it is called awakening.

Sokei-an Roshi (1882-1945)

Image result for yellow october leaves

I have been younger in October

than in all the months of spring…
the day is yet one more yellow leaf…

W.S. Merwin (b.1927), “The Love of October”


The thing with October is, I think, it somehow gets in your very blood. Unapologetically. Almost ruthlessly.

–Anne Sexton (1928-1974)


October is a hallelujah! reverberating in my body year-round….

John Nichols (b.1940), The Last Beautiful Days of Autumn

))))))  ***** (((((

Amy in Arizona


Traveled to Tempe, Arizona, the other evening to see & hear wonderful Amy Goodman, creator-host of Democracy Now! speak to a small but fully packed house on the university campus (maybe 300 persons?). A most wonderful talk, a lovely presence. What a treasure Amy is!

How does she do it? Year after year, day after day, she just keeps going—helping make our world a better place! Before her talk, she signed copies of her new book, Democracy Now!: Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America, written with David Goodman and Denis Moynihan. After her talk, one of many stops on a nationwide book launch tour, she signed more copies and posed for more photos with her fans, waiting for her car to arrive to whisk her to the airport, catch her flight back to NYC so she could film the next day’s show of her daily news presentation, “Democracy Now! The War and Peace Report,” carried by hundreds of TV and radio stations around the world. How does she do it?! “I’ll have time to sleep on the plane…,” she assured us. Such a lovely, amazing person. Everyone feels such love for her, and she palpably exudes love in every direction. Signing and posing after her talk, greeting her many fans, her face glowed with happiness and kindness, though she also seemed ready to collapse from exhaustion. I seriously wondered if she would hold up long enough for her car to arrive. I’m so glad I was able to catch her visit. What a jewel.


On this day, 1963:

It is clear and cool as if it had rained. But there has been no rain.

Thomas Merton (1915-1968), Journals, Oct 29, 1963


Solitary converse with nature; for thence are expressed sweet and dreadful words never uttered in libraries. Ah! the spring days, the summer dawns, and October woods!

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), “Inspiration,” Letters and Social Aims

The sentry sun, that glared so long
O’erhead, deserts his summer post…

Thomas Constable (1812–1881), “Old October”


On the whole I take it that middle age is a happier period than youth. In the entire circle of the year there are no days so delightful as those of a fine October, when the trees are bare to the mild heavens, and the red leaves bestrew the road, and you can feel the breath of winter morning and evening—no days so calm, so tenderly solemn, and with such a reverent meekness in the air.

Alexander Smith (1829–1867), “An Essay on an Old Subject”


And now I might
As happy be as earth is beautiful…

Edward Thomas (1878-1917), “October”


Drown me in October winds, in blowing leaves that turn the color of fire.

Author Unknown


The fallen leaves in the forest seemed to make even the ground glow and burn with light.
Malcolm Lowry (1909-1957), October Ferry To Gabriola


My favorite color is October.

Author unknown

Rain and wind, leaves and seeds

Image result for october leaves

Around and around the house the leaves fall thick—but never fast, for they come circling down with a dead lightness that is sombre and slow. Let the gardener sweep and sweep the turf as he will, and press the leaves into full barrows, and wheel them off, still they lie ankle-deep.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870), Bleak House

This day, 1963:

The falling leaves, crowds of them, flying across the narrow novitiate lawn and the Zen garden (still unfinished – it needs the big rock). Last evening the sky was dark and it looked like rain, but they were only the “clouds without water” of Jude’s epistle. There was, after supper, a momentary violent wind and brief dust storm.

— Thomas Merton (1915-1968), Journals, October 28, 1963

My notes: My friend Tom Merton had organized the novice monks in his Catholic monastery in Kentucky to help him construct a Zen style rock garden on abbey grounds as early as 1963. He was already revealing his deep renewed interest in Asian spirituality in his reading, writing, and personal meditation practice. When he died (or was assassinated) in 1968, in Thailand, he was planning to journey on to Japan to study at Zen monasteries there.He had already just met with HH the Dalai Lama and several other Buddhist and Hindu teachers in India and Sri Lanka.

Previously, Father Merton had publicly announced his desire to join other American peace activists such as his friends Joan Baez, Fathers Dan and Phil Berrigan, and others such as Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda, in volunteering as “hostages for peace” by staying in the North Vietnamese capital city of Hanoi, while it was under saturation bombing attacks by US jets flown by John McCain and others determined, in McCain’s phrase, to “kill all gooks!” 

Many persons who were familiar with the events and situations of the time feel that the CIA assassinated Merton to silence his anti-war activities before he could travel to Hanoi, or offer further public resistance to the US war against the people of Southeast Asia. When Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis in April 1968, he was on his way to attend a retreat with Merton and other anti-war activists at Merton’s Kentucky hermitage. Both men were friends with Vietnamese Zen master and anti-war activist Thich Nhat Hanh. Merton was also a friend, confessor, and spiritual guide to the Robert Kennedy family. Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June of ’68; by December of ’68, Tom Merton was dead also.  Tom Hayden died just this Sunday.


“The teaching I am giving now is like the seasonable rain that gives moisture to the great Earth. Your buddha-natures are like the seeds that receiving this moisture can all sprout at once.” –Chinese Zen Patriarch Hui-Neng, 638-713.

‘Rain,’ as a metaphor, is very famous in Buddhism, especially in the Lotus Sutra.

When you go to California, and the autumn rain falls, all becomes green. In summer it is the most devastated of places. Everything is dry except for the little plants and the little poppies in the sand. But when autumn comes, all is green again. I saw it in California, and it is the same in China. In Southern China, in summer, everything dries up and dies in the tropical heat. Rain falls upon the mountains, the rivers, the fields, the sea. It transforms into willow trees, leaves, and green vegetation of all kinds. It enters the water jar of the house, gets into your rouge, or your ink, into many things. But originally, the shower that fell from heaven was just one shower, though it appears in many ways.

“Your buddha-natures are like the seeds that receiving this moisture can all sprout at once.” In summer under the hot sun, the seeds are sleeping—a beautiful metaphor! But under the moistening autumn rain the seed will sprout. If you have no seeds in your mind, nothing sprouts even though it rains. The seed is this concentration in one place, in one deed, to make all deeds one deed.

The ordinary person is like a bird in a cage that has lost its freedom. He sees blue, red, and green, but he never thinks about why this is blue, red, and green. Like the child who asks his mother, “Why is this red?” and the mother answers, “Because it’s red, my dear!” It doesn’t bother him that his mother does not explain it. He never thinks any deeper. He never realizes that color is the vibration of ether, and that sound is the vibration of air. In meditation, you can escape from this cage of delusion; and from it, you can observe everything.

–Sokei-an Roshi (1882-1945)

My Notes: As a young Japanese Zen monk, artist, and anti-militarist, Sokei-an had come to the US, where he wandered afoot from San Francisco to New York City, camping, meditating, and doing farm work. After some years as a Bohemian artist, poet, and dancer in Greenwich Village, he completed his Zen teacher training and established a Zen Center in NYC (which is still active). Some more connections: Sokei-an Roshi, together with his friends Dr. D.T.Suzuki and my own first Zen teacher Nyogen Senzaki, had been fellow students of the same Zen master. Thomas Merton and Dr. Suzuki were friends. 


The Final Golden Days of October

From the latter weeks of October to Christmas-eve… is the period during which happiness is in season, which, in my judgment, enters the room with the tea-tray…

Thomas De Quincey (1785–1859), Confessions of an English Opium-Eater


The mug of cider simmered slow,
The apples sputtered in a row,
And, close at hand, the basket stood
With nuts from brown October’s wood.

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892), Snow-bound (1866)


October days are stealing
All swiftly on their way;
The squirrels now are working,
The leaves are out at play;
The busy, busy children
Are gathering nuts so brown,
The birds are gaily planning
A winter out of town.
—Clara L. Strong, “October,” 1906


The clear light that belongs to October was making the landscape radiant.

Florence Bone (1875–1971), The Morning of To Day, 1907

October, crisp, misty, golden October, when the light is sweet and heavy.

–Angela Carter (1950-1993), The Magic Toyshop


Well, it’s a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
‘Neath the cover of October skies
And all the leaves on the trees are falling
To the sound of the breezes that blow
And I’m trying to please to the calling
Of your heartstrings that play soft and low…

Van Morrison (b.1945), “Moondance,” recorded 1969

October breeze, Autumn silence

Every blade in the field, every leaf in the forest, lays down its life in its season, as beautifully as it was taken up. It is the pastime of a full quarter of the year. Dead trees, sere leaves, dried grass and herbs—are not these a good part of our life? And what is that pride of our autumnal scenery but the hectic flush, the sallow and cadaverous countenance of vegetation? its painted throes, with the November air for canvas?

Henry David Thoreau, letter to Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1842


September is dressing herself in showy dahlias and splendid marigolds and starry zinnias. October, the extravagant sister, has ordered an immense amount of the most gorgeous forest tapestry for her grand reception.

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894), “Autumn,” The Atlantic Almanac, 1868

The sun declined, and we both fell into twilight silence. Night, which in autumn seems to fall from the sky at once, it comes so quickly, chilled us, and we rolled ourselves in our cloaks…

—Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly (1808-1889)

Fiery colors begin their yearly conquest of the hills, propelled by the autumn winds. Fall is the artist.

Takayuki Ikkaku, Animal Crossing: Wild World (Nintendo video game)


falling leaves
hide the path
so quietly

John Bailey, a haiku year, 2001

Autumn, whose vibrations awaken

It is a delightful pastime to sit in the pleasant sunshine of autumn, and gazing from this little spot of free earth over such a landscape, let the imagination luxuriate amid the thrilling associations of the scene!

H.T. Tuckerman, “San Marino”

Autumn! sad, sighing, yet most lovely Autumn, again art thou here; and again with feelings “pleasant but mournful to my soul,” do I greet thy return. And the strangest feelings of mingled pleasure and pain are awakened at thy approach, though thou excitest emotions less rapturous and fancies less playful, yet hath thy presence for me a solace and a spell unfelt amid the greener verdure, brighter sunbeams and more fragrant flowers of Summer. Dearer to me than the clustering roses of June, are they withered stalk and falling leaf…. And for the heart, the busy, changeful human heart, thou hast a thousand stirring chords, whose vibrations awaken with an electric influence its slumbering sensibilities, and whose sympathetic music responds with all the truth of an echo.

Elizabeth J. Eames, “An Autumn Reverie,” October 1840




Conscious evolution progresses, despite every obstruction…

Elder Brother Tom Hayden died Sunday. (Senator / Professor Thomas Emmet Hayden, December 11, 1939—October 23, 2016, age 76.)

Our world is a better place because of Tom, and a poorer place because of his passing. I’m sure he’ll be back very soon, following a brief, well-deserved rest in some heavenly buddha-field, coming back stronger than ever, ready to resume raising some more much-needed hell, passionately waging peace as ever for human rights and civil rights and animal rights and planetary rights, for eco-social justice, peace, progress, equality, and freedom for all. Picking up right where he left off this past time around. We await your return, further along, brother Tom, bodhisattva. 

“All my life I’ve been involved with racial politics. I was a Freedom Rider in the South. I was the author of books on gang violence. I was a community organizer in Newark, New Jersey. And when I spoke to the Black Caucus, congressional and state, I realized they were going all the way for Hillary and so was the Latino Caucus in Sacramento. And I asked myself this question: ‘Do I really want to cast my vote against these people who have been central to my life and to the soul of the country?’ And so I went with them. Period.”

–Tom Hayden, California State Senator and Assemblyman, author of some 40 books, professor at Harvard, UCLA, and several other universities and colleges, Civil Rights Freedom Rider, Anti-war peace activist, animal rights activist, eco-warrior, co-founder/ first leader of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), practicing Buddhist, and all round Irish American mensch.


Oh! a storm is threatening my very life today! If I don’t get some shelter, Lord! I’m gonna fade away! War, children! it’s just a shot away, it’s just a shot away!

Oh, see! The fire is sweeping our very street today! Burns like a red coal carpet, mad bull lost his way! War! children, it’s just a shot away, it’s just a shot away!

Rape! Murder! It’s just a shot away, it’s just a shot away! Rape! Murder! It’s just a shot away, a shot away!

A flood is threatening my very life today! Gimme, gimme shelter, or I’m gonna fade away! War, children! It’s just a shot away! It’s just a shot away!

I tell you–love, sister! It’s just a kiss away! It’s just a kiss away, a kiss away!

–Sir Mick Jagger (b.1943) and Keith Richards (b. 1943), “Gimme Shelter,” first recorded 47  years ago, on 23 February, 1969, included on album, Let it Bleed, released December 1969

(from wiki article):

Of Let It Bleed’s bleak world view, Jagger said in a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone:

“Well, it’s a very rough, very violent era. The Vietnam War. Violence on the screens, pillage and burning. And Vietnam was not war as we knew it in the conventional sense. The thing about Vietnam was that it wasn’t like World War II, and it wasn’t like Korea, and it wasn’t like the Gulf War. It was a real nasty war, and people didn’t like it. People objected, and people didn’t want to fight it…” As for the song itself, he concluded, “That’s a kind of end-of-the-world song, really. It’s apocalypse; the whole record’s like that.”

Similarly, on NPR in 2012:

“It was a very moody piece about the world closing in on you a bit…When it was recorded, early ’69 or something, it was a time of war and tension, so that’s reflected in this tune. It’s still wheeled out when big storms happen, as they did the other week [during Hurricane Sandy]. It’s been used a lot to evoke natural disaster.”

Erik’s coffee van life – Part 2

Boggy Blog editor’s note: I have no commercial interest in this friendly fellow’s business, nor have we met. (Heckers, I don’t even drink much coffee, and have yet to try his.) I just like his outlook and the way he’s finding and exploring his line…  I traveled around a lot in a van, myself, back in the day. So there’s a connection there. Enjoy.

My name is Erik Gordon, and I own Carabiner Coffee. It’s a coffee shop that I run out of my van around the country.

Carabiner Coffee started because I was a climbing instructor,—doin’ that for about five years, and it kinda got to the point where I was done doin’ that. But I still love the climbing community, obviously. And I started to get into coffee a little bit more, and realized that coffee could take me anywhere in the world, and I could meet anybody that I ever wanted to, really. So I figured that if I could be the coffee guy for the climbing community, I would love to do that.

I was looking to downsize life and really simplify things, and start to travel more, and climb. I bought the van off Craig’s List, after working in a coffee shop for about eight months. Learned everything I could; that was the first coffee shop I ever worked in; it was feeling solid; so I quit that shop, and I started my own coffee business.

Breckenridge [Colorado] actually kicked me out for selling coffee on the side of the road. The Forest Service found me, and they were like, “Dude!” — First, the town wouldn’t give me a business license, cuz they didn’t allow any more mobile vendors. So I went outside of town, to the outskirts, to the scenic lookouts, and started selling coffee there. The Forest Service found me, and were like, “Sorry, dude — done-so!” So then I moved to Seattle and started doin’ the whole official food truck deal.

Welcome to Old Blue. This is the van that I live in, and I tour the country with, and sell coffee. This is obviously the living room, and the coffee-making area. This whole rig is solar powered, so I’ve got like a panel up top, Goalzero, makes all this happen. So, all the coffee-making stuff, the sound system. Got like a little home theatre system kinda tucked away in here, so it makes it really nice to listen to music.

I have usually just a water jug in here. Under there I have a coffee grinder, an electric kettle that I make pour-overs an Arrow press with.

When I’m just chillin’, this is the set up in here. I usually have a cooler that I’m like sitting right here on, and serving coffee on the table. But when I’m not, it’s kinda folded out like this. A few pillows. I always make sure I have the uke, because if you’re gonna be on the road, you gotta sing about it, for sure. When I am sleeping, I actually developed this, where the back of this pops out and lays right here, so this entire area becomes a bed. Generally, this is where all the clothes are stored, in here, whenever I’m on tour.

Cooking? To be honest, I actually — I do have like a jet boil, and a double-burner Coleman. But most of the time, I will just pull up to a grocery store, get some groceries, and eat right in the driveway, in the parking lot of the grocery store. Just because it’s – I’m usually either traveling, or like about to go camping for a weekend. I’m just like “Aw, it would be nice to just, like, eat in the van.” So sometimes I do that, other times, actually, there’s a little table, as you’ll see in the back of the van there, where I like to set up the whole kitchen situation [outside]. But in the winters, you’re definitely just in here, you know, sippin coffee and eatin soup and stuff, for sure.

One day, I was selling coffee, and this guy, he hands me this little tag, and it says, “The universe has a message for you…I love you.” Yo, this is the coffee mug that my dad hitchhiked with for an entire decade back in the 70’s. Yeah, there’s tons of stories attributed to that. And it’s kind of cool to have that with to, you know, just have kind of a little legacy between me and my dad of traveling and living on the road. He’s definitely all about — he’s psyched that I chose to live in a van and sell coffee, which is sweet.

We’re all gonna die one day, and it might be tomorrow, and it might be when you’re a hundred and five. But, I would say, if you’re not living the life, right now, that you are psyched to wake up and live, — change it as soon as possible. Just, you know? — if that means quitting your job, or if it means tweaking some things, getting rid of some negativity in your life, — just go for it. And it might be hard at first, but in the end, do you want to live the best story that you thought you ever could? or do you want to, you know? wake up when you’re 90, and say, like, “Shit, I really shoulda done some different things”? Cuz, you know? Put it all out there and live the dream. So, that’s what I would say to do.

There’s a lot of things wrong with the van, as there are with these old vans. I have, let’s see, like the other day, I was going down a mountain pass, and my brakes started to smoke really hard. So, like “you have gotta pull over!” And I literally was dumping Nalgenes [water bottles] on the two front brakes. And then I just, you know, took a nap on the side of the road.

So that’s kinda the average story of how I travel. My flashers don’t work, so — and it’s like a pull switch, — and so, I’m literally, — and when I’m going up a mountain pass, I’m in like second gear, maybe going like 20 miles per hour, and I’m manually flashing my flashers. Also, the blinkers don’t work, like they don’t blink by themselves, so I have to like flip the switch to blink either way. Yeah, I mean, the engine has blown up once, for sure. Yeah, like the alternator pulley literally cracked in half, and just was whipping around in the engine compartment once. I had to like run a red light and go park somewhere, otherwise the van was gonna start on fire….

October music, Autumn silence

Image result for adrian scott stokes autumn in the mountains

Adrian Scott Stokes (1854-1935), Autumn in the Mountains,
exhibited 1903
tempera on canvas, 800 x 1067mm, Tate Museum, London

Image result for adrian scott stokes

On hill and valley and stream, is lain the spell of silence; and the deep stillness of the air is unbroken…

Elizabeth J. Eames, “An Autumn Reverie,” October 1840

Image result for wordsworth

Wild is the music of autumnal winds
Amongst the faded woods.
—William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

Image result for william blake

The spirits of the air live on the smells
Of fruit; and joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees…
—William Blake (1757-1827), “To Autumn”

And in my heart, sweet Autumn, thou art the awakener of many, many things. At thy touch the deep fountain of memory is stirred, and its shadowy bank is thronged with many cherished images and hallowed recollections of the Past!

Elizabeth J. Eames, “An Autumn Reverie,” October 1840

Boggy Blog Editor: Gotta love the series of short videos about Erik Gordon and his Carabiner Coffee Co. Here’s one video, along with my transcript of the text:

“There’s so much beauty in life, and there’s so much adventure. I’ve always been in love with that fact: that you can wake up every day, and every one of those days is a chance that you get to change your life into anything you want it to be.

My name is Erik Gordon, and I own Carabiner Coffee. I do this because I want to share that love and that passion with everybody I meet. Life is so much more that just money and stuff. It’s about connecting, and being in amazing places, and sharing those places with each other.

There have been so many challenges to overcome, since starting Carabiner Coffee, it is impossible to list them all. I’ve gone through everything from being refused to be permitted in different cities and states, to having pipes in the van burst, and having things blow up in the van. It’s just been kind of a non-stop gauntlet of things that you have to deal with. But really, that’s what it’s all about, anyways. I think everybody that starts a business has to go through those growing pains and get those hard times out of the way.

Well, every dirt-bag climber wants a VW van, it’s just—it’s a fact. And so, when I decided that I wanted to start Carabiner Coffee, I knew that that’s exactly what I wanted to do, was start it out of a van. Owning one of these vans, you get—you’re a part of this greater community that is always helping each other out.

“Find your line” is a saying that I’ve been living my life by, ever since I started Carabiner Coffee. And it really just has to do with waking up every day and making every day great, and making it your own, and doing things that get you outside, and make you happy, whatever that is. And I feel like it’s just a great reminder, every day, that you can make life into whatever you want it to be, and you can find your line through anything.

For me, Carabiner Coffee is really about getting great coffee into the hands of everybody who loves to chase adventure. Coffee is such an amazing way to bring the outdoor community together and to be able to inspire one another. We all come from different places and have different stories to tell, and what I wanted to do with Carabiner Coffee is hear as many of those stories as possible.

Whether you run into me making coffee out of the van, or I’m shipping coffee right to your door, I’m honored to be able to connect with all of the customers and be able to inspire everybody to get out there and do something they love to do, every single day.”

I like Paula’s version of this old chestnut the best of all I’ve heard…

^^^^^ OOOOO ^^^^^

October Sunset Skies

Image result for thoreau

October is the month for painted leaves…. As fruits and leaves and the day itself acquire a bright tint just before they fall, so the year near its setting. October is its sunset sky; November the later twilight.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), “Autumnal Tints”


Image result for reading by the fireplace

October is crisp days and cool nights, a time to curl up around the dancing flames and sink into a good book.

John Sinor (1930–1996), in San Diego Union-Tribune

Image result for reading by the fireplace