Words to the Wise: My Dad Tackles 30

I asked my dad, baby boomer,poet and writer, former minister and college administrator, to write on being thirty. This is what he had to say:

Birth to old age…   

Still, I paddled my own boat.

Incredibly, a voice asked,   

“Where are you headed?”


from a poem of the nembutsu

Michael Bever, 1947
 Listen for the still, small voice.
Alice asked me to speak to myself when I was thirty. She thought perhaps I might offer some advice.
When I was in my thirties, she was a precocious and lovely child. Surprising? So, maybe I did something right.

 I could say have kids younger, have kids older, don’t have kids, have a lot of kids.  Just as I could say that career is most important, or family is most important, live simply, live life to the hilt, follow your bliss, be prepared… yada, yada, yada.
Or I could say don’t listen to old people.  Or listen for the wisdom of the wizened… Trust your gut, don’t trust lust, don’t drink too much, eat, drink and be merry…
I am weary already of this exercise.
Speak it in a thousand languages, in everyday gestures and listen to its song in all that you hear.
How about, listen to the great cloud of witnesses in your life?  Pay attention to the ancestors.  Listen for the still, small voice.
Just that. Enough.  I suspect that is more than enough.
 What do you have to lose?
I have learned from them and here is one who speaks to me every day: Lin Chi (or Linji), 9th century master, one of the foundational Rinzai Zen (Ch’an) masters in China.
If you want to learn about him, do so.  Easy enough.
As I see it, the excerpt below of one of his sermons to seekers is all one needs to know.  Just live into it and make it your own.  Speak it in a thousand languages, in everyday gestures and listen to its song in all that you hear.
And sing it for yourself.
 What do you have to lose?

@angelo merendino


As I see it,

there is no Buddha,

no living beings, no long ago, no now.

If you want to get it, you’ve already got it.

…this lone brightness before my eyes now…

this person listening to me… is unimpeded

at any point, but penetrates the ten directions,

free to do as he pleases in the threefold world…

he goes everywhere converting living beings

and yet never becomes separated

from his single thought.

Every place for him is clean and pure…

the ten thousand phenomena are a single thusness…

there’s never been anything that needed doing…

Don’t go looking for the world’s mistakes.

If you can acquire a true understanding,

one that’s clear and complete,

then you can start to think

of calling it quits.

Lin Chi



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