Zen Spot #95 — Mindfulness, meditation and cinder blocks in the doorway of a crack house February 18, 2018 00:05

Crooked violent tombstones in parallel

I’m used to driving past a cemetery — Mount Moriah Cemetery  in Southwest Philadelphia--that hasn’t been cared for in decades. Half-dug holes populate the three-hundred-plus acres as if awaiting a body whose family was discovered indigent. Thorns strangle everything. Gangs and dealers regularly drop bodies at the edge of the mushy ten-foot cliff that falls off into Cobbs Creek. Neighbors ignore the bodies from the safe side of trolley tracks that run along an iron impaling fence-line that seems to go for a mile.

Graffiti and blood are paint. Tombstones have been smashed with cars and skulls. Grave sites erupt as if the dead are pushing up from underneath, like a filthy caricature of massive grassy blackheads. The gaping Romanesque brownstone gate at its entrance swallows visitors with a fetid mouth that is chipped like the whores’ teeth that crawl along Kingsessing Avenue.

Thieves, addicts and the homeless

I visit the cemetery now and again. It makes me feels closer to my ancestors, none of whom are buried, but each of whom lived within a stone’s throw, watching the decay.

The sepulchre above, at one time, had a strong metal door frame, hardened glass and a bulletproof lock. Enough desperation was felt, at some point, for a human being to crowbar it open. Inside, addicts got high and passed out. Whores and kids had sex. Homeless men slept. Next to the dead.

Were I buried there, the saint and voyeur within me would welcome the crimes. That people slept next to my body to keep warm, and stay alive, would give me solace.

Of all the places I visit and sit, this is perhaps the most quiet and the most dangerous. Kids rove and rob. My maternal grandfather may, in fact, have been one of those kids, a long time ago. I am a giant, though. I’ve walked by the packs of wolves and they don’t bother me.

Unquiet in the quiet

It was late afternoon and, while I am a giant, as I sat down and pressed my back against the cinder blocks, I didn’t close my eyes. The thought of the safety this home had offered, being taken from the desperate people who sought refuge there, triggered memories of a time when I was safe and many others weren’t. 

Just like right now. 

Mindfulness and compassion.


About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit SilkDharma.com.

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?