Clean-Up Impressions

Over 60 people showed up to clean-up the Uplands located in the Lehigh Mountain Park. There were no Christians, Jews, Muslims or Buddhists, there were just people coming together to care for their world. Not once did I hear religion mentioned during the clean-up itself. All I saw were people engaged in a noble activity. This land was not owned by any individual but, everyone cared as if it was their personal property, how wonderful! If only we could get more people to view the world around them in this way, or even to view the world as an interconnected part of them, things could take a wondrous direction. I watched grown men playing with salamanders and snakes, although I had to point out the one was a poisonous copperhead, and a serenity overcame us all as through a long lost part of us awoke and we began to view the world through the eyes of a child again. I think we become lost and separated from nature, and in a way, I think we are lonely and sad. There is a spirit which permeates the earth and when we separate ourselves from her we become lost and homesick. Many times, we loose sight that we are “nature” itself and have become like a flower trying to grow within the dark of a cave. We seek the completion that only connecting with the world around us (other) can offer.

Lehigh Mountain Park Clean-up

A serene section of Lehigh Mountain Park in Allentown for years has been known as a dumping ground for garbage referred to as “white goods” — including mattresses, appliances, stoves and washing machines — rather than for the natural sanctuary it could provide for city residents.

Members of Buddhist Blue Mountain Zendo visit the park regularly to pay homage to the natural fountain, springs and vibrant wildlife. They’ve teamed up with area park organizations and interested citizens to try to reveal the beauty of the park for the use of other community members as well.

“This area has a history of this,” Rev. Joriki Dat Baker, of Blue Mountain Zendo, says of the illegal trash dumping. “But what people don’t see is pristine forest and a huge aquifer.”

Lehigh County Parks Department, Allentown Parks, Salisbury Township, The Friends of Allentown Parks, Lehigh County Parks Department and Trinity Episcopal Church of Bethlehem are among the other organizations that have banded together to organize a mass cleanup being held 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today. The groups will meet and start the cleanup at the park’s Constitution Drive entrance.

The effort, planned to address more than 230 acres of the park, was organized before a brush fire burned an area of wooded land of the uplands during the early morning hours of April 19. The fire, which began on Constitution Drive,  was contained to two acres by the Allentown Fire Department.

Karen El-Chaar, executive director of Friends of the Allentown Parks, says cleanup is even more crucial now.

“Many people don’t realize this park even exists,” El-Chaar says.

El-Chaar has helped to organize high school groups and other volunteers to help out, along with securing small grants to aid with material expenses such as dump trucks, dumpsters, gardening equipment and trash bags.

“It’s not just a local park and important for the local community, but a national gem for the area,” Baker says of the historical significance of the park, including native artifacts found there and wildlife.

Baker says there is a plan to put gates up to block off the park to prevent people driving in with trash to dump, but they hope to have one big push for cleanup before gates are slated to be put in this summer.

More than 200 people are expected to show up to help with trash pickup and minor landscaping of the park, but more are needed.

Baker says the event has a larger purpose than just being a work detail. The area, which has also been used for walking and mountain biking trails, will also house community gardening efforts by Our Place, a Muslim Community organization, which has a location in Morristown, N.J.

“The focus is cleanup and bringing community together to realize what a great natural resource they have,” Baker says.

By: Tiffany Bentley Express Times

Wind, flag, mind moves, The same understanding. When the mouth opens All are wrong. “Mumon”

One of the facets of self is to create a separated “entity” in space/time which creates the contrast needed to navigate through it. This contrast is created, by the brain, to procure the needs and desires of the organism. Many within Zen Practice tend to vilify the self and create just as much suffering, via this vilification, as those who are attached to the illusion of a permanent and unchanging self. Yes, there is a flag and yes the wind is that which moves the flag. The nature of this koan pertains to the unified or complete view that we are normally separated from via the chain reaction which arises when we manifest limited self. Our “limited self” nature creates a process in which the unified is broken down into facets and attributes which are easily manipulated and digested to fit within our perception of reality. Those facets which are brought forward into the conscious mind depend greatly on our personal preferences, needs and experiences. Countless other attributes are left undifferentiated as they are either unknown, deemed as unimportant or contrary to our desired reality. Within this dualistic process we can’t experience reality in its completeness, we can only see slices or frames that we have removed from the whole, digested and then conceptualized. If these attributes can not be neatly placed within our “view”, our “beliefs” fall apart and we struggle to find unity with reality. Life has a way of grabbing us by the gruff of the neck and pointing the way. When we let go fully, and open our eyes wide, we naturally return to that which is unified to rectify our conflict. In Zen, tools have long been used which force the student to let go of their “beliefs”, shed the limited self, and realize that which brings together and unifies. The seeker falls into completion which reveals the true nurture of the self. In return, balance is once again realized and the resulting insight replaces the ignorant view(s); until next time, as this is a process – how perfect! Mumon tells us,“When Mouth opens, all are wrong” so he is kindly giving us direction, he is pointing to an experience which transcends the extraction of a few mere attributes and the realization of completion. Directly experiencing and knowing, what creates the fragmentation of reality is key to realizing the precious dharma found within this koan. When self is revealed in its complete form, all return to their rightful places in the heavens. Completion reveals the core nature of all attributes, and restores the true nature of self – no nature.