Friday, November 26, 2010

Empty Houses in the Desert

(Back from two and a half week retreat with Ruth Denison, at Dhamma Dena Desert Vipassana Center, I am devoting the next few weeks to sharing Ruth's wonderful teachings.)

Every day, walking through the Mojave desert, I became fascinated with the empty houses strewn throughout the arid landscape. 

Pink house, 
all boarded up.

Boarded pink house in Mojave Desert.

Old house, looted,
nothing left to be had.

Looted house in Mojave Desert.

House of brick,
structure still intact.

Empty house of bricks in Mojave Desert.

Soulful wooden house,
begging to be visited.

Wooden empty house in Mojave Desert.

Dilapidated house,
and a brand new fence.

Fenced up empty house in Mojave Desert.

Houses, empty,
many of them.

And I thought of my  body, and the way I used to not be there.
I thought of most people's bodies, and the way they fail to inhabit
these most precious structures of theirs.
Empty, no life any more.
Empty, no life yet.

(impressions from retreat with Ruth, about learning to inhabit my body - following Ruth's lead - coming to my senses)


  1. great photos, nice analogy. yes this body is our home during this visit here. reminds me to think of how I take care of my home. eek, not so well sometimes, in many different ways.

  2. Thank you Carol. Ruth really helped me come to my senses. Inhabiting the body is such a long process. And at the same time, there lies the key to our liberation . . . Such a different view from our habitual thinking about meditation as a mind, head thing.

  3. You are going strong: A"nd I thought of my body, and the way I used to not be there"

  4. Thank you Pooja. Today, I will write a post about Ruth's precise instructions about the body.

  5. Wonderful photos, Marguerite... they say so much, without any words at all!

    I've had the same sense about old, abandoned cars that can be found here and there in the arroyos scattered throughout the Santa Fe area... the spirits that once inhabited those vehicles now departed.

    How lucky we are to still be in our bodies... every moment is precious, and fully inhabiting our bodies is a great invitation and gift.

  6. Thank you Maia. Yes, so simple to inhabit our bodies, and yet, how far away we are often. So much of what we do nowadays is away from the body. Computer, games, watching TV . . . Filling the mind, forgetting the body.

    Bodies empty. Houses empty . . .

    Grateful for gift of our cyber, disembodied connection :) (although the fact that we met once did help me get a sense of deeper connection!)

  7. Marguerite,

    I look forward to hearing of your on-going pilgrimage. I feeling is that though you said, "Empty, no life any more. Empty, no life yet," while true on one side of the coin is not so true on the other. I say this because you noticed and paused with each structure living out its own reality... living out it's own shogymujo... unfolding transformation.

    What I enjoy in your postings and your presence is that you intuitively have a knack to as Thoreau put it, "Hearing beyond the range of sound. Seeing beyond the verge of sight." This is the nature of practice and it seems so present with you. Please go straight on and keep photographing and writing.

    With Bows,

    // Seiho

  8. The new fence is especially poignant.

  9. Yes, Emily, story-making mind had a lot to say and feel about the new fence . . . lots of possible scripts here!

  10. Thank you for visiting, Seiho! As usual, I always appreciate the zen spirit in your comments . . .

    Time to go on your blog now :)