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Untangling the Tangle: Sea Turtle #15

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The inner tangle and the outer tangle,
this whole world is entangled in a tangle,
and so I ask the Buddha this question,
How does one untangle this tangle?

~ Vissudhimagga

This morning, I drove downtown to pick up croissants and strawberries for some dear friends who are coming for tea later on. Along Alameda Street, I stopped and parked the car to walk out and get a closer look and smell of some beautiful lilac bushes growing in the meridian between the sidewalk and the drop off to the Santa Fe River. The fragrance of the lilacs was nearly lost among the exhaust fumes of the cars and trucks passing by.

Sitting outside on this beautiful day, reading the story about Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle number 15, near Padre Island, TX, in danger from the massive Gulf oil spill. Contemplating my own addiction to oil… this morning’s errand, driven by greed, driven by love…. Who will untangle this tangle?

Watching a spider at work

I vow with all beings

to cherish the web of the universe:

touch one point and everything moves.

~Robert Aitken Roshi

About Maia

I've been practicing and studying the Buddha way since 1994, and exploring the question "What is engaged Buddhism?" since the late 90s. As former executive director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and editor of its journal, Turning Wheel, I had the honor of meeting and working with many practitioners of engaged dharma, including Roshi Joan Halifax, Joanna Macy, Alan Senauke, and Robert Aitken Roshi. I write about socially engaged Buddhism on my blog, "The Jizo Chronicles," as well as on the theme of personal and collective freedom on my website, "The Liberated Life Project." Through my Five Directions Consulting, I offer support to individuals and organizations who aspire to integrate awareness into their work.

6 responses »

  1. Maia,
    Thank you for this post. I have had a heart desire for most of my life to visit the Padre Islands. I am sharing in the sorrow of what
    is happening with all life there at this time.

  2. Dear Maia,
    Thank you for writing this . I’ve forwarded it to friends….while the song “Trouble and Beauty” (Carolyn McDade) plays in my head.

  3. Thank you for this heart-felt post, Maia. I hadn’t heard/read of the encounter between Vissudhimaga and the Buddha but it gets right to the heart of our tangled lives. It does so fully resonate with yesterday’s post on Ox Herding – although with much greater clarity.

    Aitken Roshi’s gatha is quite lovely.

    Is it possible not to touch the web?

  4. Donna, Derek, and Barry,

    Thank you for taking the time to read this post, and for your responses. Derek, I’m going to check out the “Trouble and Beauty” song… great title. Barry, there’s actually another verse from Vissudhimagga that follows the one I posted, and gives the “answer:”

    When a wise man, established well in Virtue,
    Develops Consciousness and Understanding,
    Then as a bhikkhu ardent and sagacious
    He succeeds in disentangling this tangle.


    Thanks to Hozan Alan Senauke of Berkeley Zen Center for making me aware of these verses.

  5. Pingback: Jizo Celebrates His/Her First Birthday « The Jizo Chronicles

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