Today At Meetingbrook

Thursday, October 30, 2014

fading calls for help

Domestic violence, men drugging women then sexually taking advantage, or, punching and bullying, these are indicators something is very wrong with our men, our culture, our way of life.
Frankly, I think it is high time that these violent crimes begin to cost men something. And that might mean that it has to cost those of us who love them something as well. I have shared in these pages before that I do not romanticize patriarchal families because I did not grow up in one. My father was a complicated, brilliant, hilarious and violent man, and my home life and childhood were infinitely better after he left our home. His leaving and his alcoholism cost me a father. But it saved me a mother. 
It is high time that we decide as a nation that the symbolic slaying (and perhaps the actual locking up) of some of our most beloved men is an entirely reasonable price to pay for creating a world safe for women and children, a world where we don’t accede to narratives that convince us yet again that predators are really “good guys.”
(-- in Salon, by Brittney CooperThe Terrible Truth About Bill Cosby, October 29, 2014.) 
Wealthy athletes, politicians, corporate bigwigs, and celebrities can pay off the offended parties or prey on the pass given to the notorious and famous so as to avoid career ending penalties. But the majority of women are left to cower under threat and indifference.

Stupidity is one thing. Ignorance, another. But society’s belief in the untoward and unkind as a matter of course is an arrogance of significant weight leaning heavily on the fragile bridge of authentic connection between one another.

When that falls, we will hear the fading calls for help disappear in a deep darkness we have created.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

persevere and insist

There's an election next week. 
Telephone rings with long messages touting candidates who either want to combat those currently in office, or, become the focus of next disenchanting election.
So many words.
What changes when we free the monastic vocation from the attitude of mono-cultural dominance? Nothing and everything. Let me give three examples of traditional values of the religious, East and West, that can be reinvigorated by the encounter of monks in dialogue qua monks. Paradoxically enough, the first, the classical contemptus mundi of the monk, today takes a new and more subtle turn: not abandoning the world (which is practically impossible), but swimming against the current, like living fish in the rivers, without rage or violence, but with poise and elegance, that is, with love and patience. “La paciencia todo lo alcanza,” used to say Teresa of Avila. Patience does not give up, rather, it perseveres and insists. It never gets discouraged, because it does not believe that a single individual, system, doctrine, or religion has the total answer. Humility, to me, means the courage to be imperfect, not finished.Secondly, the monastic vocation has meant “solitude.” But solitude does not mean isolation. On the contrary, solitude demands that I be truly myself so that I may share without encumbrances solidarity with the entire reality: Buddhakaya, karma, mystical Body, universal love. The greatest scandal of human history is religious wars—be they explicitly or implicitly religious. Even the fact that sometimes they can disguise themselves under the cloak of religion shows our responsibility: “Not of the world,” but in the world—which the “Father” loved so much.Thirdly, the monastic “calling” is ever new. It does not repeat itself, and it has no blueprint; it is not prescribed by any law. It needs to be not just discovered, but created by our cooperation with the very dynamism of reality, by holy “obedience,” that is, by attentive listening (obaudire) to the “divine” Voice—which is the Hindu name for revelation (sruti). It is not enough to “imitate” the Buddha, Christ, God. We have to become the Buddha, Christ, God—without asking like Peter, “What about John?” “You follow me” was the answer. 
(--From “The New Monk” by Raimon Panikkar)
The first thing to realize is silence.
After that realization, the eloquent emptiness will approach and introduce you to no meaning beyond the origin of meaning -- the ever present origin without parallel or perimeter.
Rowing around Curtis Island today, Saskia speaking on phone with woman several states away about the troubles she tries to navigate in her life. A maritime colloquy replete with passing tugboat and wind-pushed swells. The phonecall ends as we come into territory of no channel buoys, empty moorings, and floats on the hard.
The woman several states away has the answer already.
What must follow is courage to live it in her own life.
We tie up at dock, the only small boat remaining on the expanse of empty length.
Home from the sea.
Home is for all to see.
Prayer for her and all like her in troubled waters. 
Insisting silence, persisting, persevering prayer.

is love seeing practice through

A monk is one among many.

One who looks.

Seeing what is there is the practice of monastics.

As love is practicing the monk with being seen.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

renew, face, earth

twilight before dawn

slim cat jumps to windowsill

fresh air fills night room

Monday, October 27, 2014

will do, now, through and through

Tires role Barnestown Road. Winds chant late October. Chimes tell their fidelity sounding what passes through them.

I will sit in zendo. Last night compline was sung in candlelight. That’s what occurs.
Alfred Habdank Skarbek Korzybski ([kɔˈʐɨpski]; July 3, 1879 – March 1, 1950) was a Polish-American independent scholar who developed a field called general semantics, which he viewed as both distinct from, and more encompassing than, just the field of semantics. He argued that human knowledge of the world is limited both by the human nervous system and the languages humans have developed, and thus no one can have direct access to reality, given that the most we can know is that which is filtered through the brain's responses to reality. His best known dictum is “The map is not the territory.
We follow clues. They call us nearer what we think we are looking at. Our mind jumps to opinion, conclusion, and sets up rules regarding what appears to threaten our temporary belief. We become miserable with held opinions.
“The map is not the territory"
The expression "the map is not the territory" first appeared in print in a paper that Alfred Korzybski gave at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1931:[1] In Science and Sanity, Korzybski acknowledges his debt to mathematician Eric Temple Bell, whose epigram "the map is not the thing mapped" was published in Numerology.[2]
  • A) A map may have a structure similar or dissimilar to the structure of the territory...
  • B) A map is not the territory.
The Belgian surrealist artist René Magritte illustrated the concept of "perception always intercedes between reality and ourselves"[3] in a number of paintings including a famous work entitled The Treachery of Images, which consists of a drawing of a pipe with the caption, Ceci n'est pas une pipe ("This is not a pipe"). In The Medium is the MessageMarshall McLuhan rehashed the argument— that all media are "extensions" of our human senses, bodies and minds.
This concept occurs in the discussion of exoteric and esoteric religions. Exoteric concepts are concepts which can be fully conveyed using descriptors and languageconstructs, such as mathematics. Esoteric concepts are concepts which cannot be fully conveyed except by direct experience. For example, a person who has never tasted an apple will never fully understand through language what the taste of an apple is. Only through direct experience (eating an apple) can that experience be fully understood.
Lewis Carroll, in Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1893), made the point humorously with his description of a fictional map that had "the scale of a mile to the mile". A character notes some practical difficulties with such a map and states that "we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well."
Laura Riding, in her poem "The Map of Places" (1927), deals with this relation: "The map of places passes. The reality of paper tears."–territory_relation
Downstairs, yesterday’s coffee will do.

Wood is stacked solidly out by cabin.

God is the silence beneath silence.

Neither map, nor territory, God is the saying of such and such, thus and so, without space, without end, without and within.

Saying with and without words or sound.

I love God.



And, now, through and through.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

words at practice from Montreal zen center

The zen master is saying that what I am is no content.

Perception comes first.

He says that when the world is real I am unreal. When I am real the world is unreal.


Stacking wood in afternoon quiet
Wet leaves
Grab fast to green wellies 

Perhaps death is reality without object, without subject.

Hence, death is not a future event. It is a present released from any thought backward or forward -- only what is felt.

Here, and now, this.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Here is everywhere there

Consciousness is empty.

Only when perceiver arrives at the perceived does consciousness arise. As if from nowhere. Or nothing.

Awareness notes consciousness' arrival. And its departure.

As might a silent gaze see something occur that has no duration.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

As for yet, I dunno

Man: who're ya voting for?
2nd man: dunno yet.
Man: smart fella.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Had my father not been born, these words do not get written.

He was. These are.

It's sequencing.

So, it is.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How do I reach you

It is when you and I find common dwelling ground.

Muddle through middle.

"I" through "u."

When middle is reached muddle has been gone through.

You through I.

The middle is the way through.

Monday, October 20, 2014

My sister, 15 years ago, had no need to blow out the drawn candle flame

Is there something that traverses the seen and unseen?

Keep me informed.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

in the course of things

Night falls

into darkness

so, we sleep

Friday, October 17, 2014

true as I am here

All you can do is hope.

When someone steps out the door, there is hope they will step back when the time presents itself. But what if not?

If not, one could only hope that the mystery surrounding absence is kind to the one gone. Kindness, it would seem, is the only remaining option of those awakening beings this side of absence.
It is worth commenting for a moment on the phrase dual practice which, itself, causes difficulties similar to our fundamental questions. When it was used at the first meeting of the ongoing working group of practitioners in both traditions at the Boston meeting of the Society of Buddhist-Christian Studies, several people objected strongly to it because they felt that their practice was one thing and not two. But is this not another way of indicating an answer to our question? 
In a similar way, to use the phrase dual practice could easily be an indication of an inclination to answer the question in the opposite way. Even the similar phrase "practice across traditions" is not without its problems, for it can indicate a practice that somehow transcends the tradition it is rooted in. "Dual practice" in the sense that Roger Corless uses it, in which he practices his Christianity on alternate days with his Tibetan Buddhism, and is a rather dramatic symbol of his openness to our fundamental questions and could be taken as an answer to our question, i.e., the practice is dual because Zen meditation and the life of prayer are two different things. 77 All this illustrates once again how beneath the surface of the current Buddhist-Christian dialogue powerful currents exist generated by our basic issues. 
(--Arraj, James (2012-01-14). Christianity in the Crucible of East-West Dialogue / God, Zen and the Intuition of Being (2 Volumes in 1) (Kindle Locations 558-564). Inner Growth Books and Videos, LLC. Kindle Edition.) 
When meetingbrook first worded its interest in looking to embody the dwelling place of the Alone, to step aside making room for Another, it used the words “practicing between traditions.”

in the space separatingin the middle ofwith one on either sideamidamidstarchaic betwixt.”               
                    (--apple/google dictionary)

The emphasis is not on what is separated, but on the space separating. The space between. 

(Kenotic space; Mu space.)

As the zen saying goes, “not two, not one.


I’ll meet you there.

True as I am here.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

reciprocity and symmetry

When I think of war, I do so with horror.
(So too when I hike the Cape Breton Highlands National Park -- where trailhead signs warn you are entering the habitat of Coyotes, and inform you what to do {make yourself big} or not do {turn and run} if you are approached {ambushed?}, even the explicit instruction to fight back, yell, throw stones, use your hiking stick {thrusting and parrying?}).

I contemplate the Leatherman on my waist and the two ski poles in my hands, look at my white dog up ahead, and decide to let Saskia lead the way (that only sounds cowardly, and it is). My point is -- I do not have a Kalashnikov slung around my shoulder -- even though that seems like a good idea in the mountain ravine. 
The old saying goes, 'Don't bring a gun to a knife fight!' There seems to be both a code of symmetry and reciprocity at work in our psyches. There is also a desire to eliminate a real or perceived enemy. Our "civilized" status in thinking of ourselves can present us with odd and noble ways of approaching the contemporary world.
The Just War Theory attempts to bridge the conflicting inclinations that arise with conflict.
Excerpt: [note: my transcription from audio might not be exact]
 Reciprocity in warfare is a fundamental balance of shared risk between two different parties in a conflict. 
Asymmetry in warfare is when one side faces significantly lower risks of dying than the other in a conflict or warfare.
An imbalance of risk (especially in industrial modern warfare, is when one side has vastly greater capability than the other), is when one side can start killing the other side without facing risk of dying in return. What happens in this is you are pushing beyond the boundaries and principles of traditional Just War Theory. Here you will not find any moral or philosophical reasons to justify killing other soldiers [much less, civilians] in a conflict.      
(--Sebastian Kaempf, in interview, radio show Against the Grain,

P.s. Saskia, unattacked and sipping tea at campsite, wants me to add the following from Oct 15 Tricycle offering:
Kosho Uchiyama:
When Sawaki Roshi’s term “group stupidity” is directed at our modern civilization, it becomes a criticism of the core of this society. People today are dazzled by advances in science and technology and take human progress to be identical with scientific discovery. This is the fundamental group stupidity of our modern times. We must clearly distinguish between scientific advancement and human progress.
The historian Arnold Toynbee said, “Our modern scientific culture has increased the speed of Adam’s original sin with explosive energy. That is all. And we have never released ourselves from original sin.” Real human advancement would liberate us from our lowest consciousness, which says, “I want to gain everything without working hard. To do that, I’m ready to fight.” 
(-- from October 15, 2014, The Chimera of Human Advancement 

Three Soto Zen masters discuss the mistaking of technological progress for human transformation. Kodo Sawaki, Kosho Uchiyama, and Shohaku Okumura)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

the final experience of God

Blackbird, to say, is waiting for this moment to arise.

The world you see is just a movie in your mind.  
Rocks dont see it. 
Bless and sit down.  
Forgive and forget. 
Practice kindness all day to everybody 
and you will realize you’re already 
in heaven now. 
That’s the story. 
That’s the message. 
Nobody understands it, 
nobody listens, they’re 
all running around like chickens with heads cut 
off. I will try to teach it but it will 
be in vain, s’why I’ll 
end up in a shack 
praying and being 
cool and singing 
by my woodstove 
making pancakes.
(--from letter to Edie Kerouac, January 1957), by Jack Kerouac)
Rokie lays near screen door looking out to Englishtown ridge. It is a mild morning twilight. Door is swung back. 

I read about Taoist-buddhist thinkers' viewing of christian metaphor and practice. 
They ask themselves: "Is there such a thing as a fixed, unchanging tradition or culture or religious consciousness? What does it really mean to be faithful and loyal to tradition?" And they answer: "These questions force us to turn to inner experience as the only foundation for advancement and expansion of consciousness." 52 And they take as their patron Henri Le Saux, Abhishiktananda, who they feel has done from the advaitan, or nondual, point of view what they would like to do from a Taoist and Buddhist one. Let’s see what kind of language this perspective gives rise to. While we make clear distinctions, for example, between creatures and God, the human and the divine, nature and grace, and so forth, we need to realize that: "the real God is different from all such categorization. In the final experience of God there is no question of separation, distinction or relationship." 53.                            
(-- from CHRISTIANITY IN THE CRUCIBLE OF EAST- WEST DIALOGUE: A Critical Look at Catholic Participation By James Arraj Originally published by Inner Growth Books, LLC, 2001, Loc 432, kindle edition)
The wind cares only to blow. Blackbirds only to caw. Ground cares only to allow, cultivate, and generate seed flourishing. Trees care only to wave branches to rhythm of passing wind, bird, squirrel, and insects.

I care only to see this through.

Earlier in his letter quoted by Maria Popova, Kerouac wrote:
I have lots of things to teach you now, in case we ever meet, concerning the message that was transmitted to me under a pine tree in North Carolina on a cold winter moonlit night. It said that Nothing Ever Happened, so don’t worry. It’s all like a dream. Everything is ecstasy, inside. We just don’t know it because of our thinking-minds. But in our true blissful essence of mind is known that everything is alright forever and forever and forever. Close your eyes, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, stop breathing for 3 seconds, listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot, which was taught in immense milky way soft cloud innumerable worlds long ago and not even at all. It is all one vast awakened thing. I call it the golden eternity. It is perfect. 
 Echoing Watts’s philosophy on death, Kerouac considers the illusion of the solid “self” as he contemplates the life and death of mountains:

We were never really born, we will never really die. It has nothing to do with the imaginary idea of a personal self, other selves, many selves everywhere: Self is only an idea, a mortal idea. That which passes into everything is one thing. It’s a dream already ended. There’s nothing to be afraid of and nothing to be glad about. I know this from staring at mountains months on end. They never show any expression, they are like empty space. Do you think the emptiness of space will ever crumble away? Mountains will crumble, but the emptiness of space, which is the one universal essence of mind, the vast awakenerhood, empty and awake, will never crumble away because it was never born.
(--in Brain Pickings, by Maria Popova, 
There is a settling into what is that surprises. Everything, everything, is what it is. If I come to see this, accept this, and quietly move through this -- then everything is what it it is and I am moving through what is.
“Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, All things are passing away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.”[1] (--St Theresa of Jesus, born in Avila in 1515)
Suffice it

to say

(there is
nothing else)

to say

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

rower in orange and green

Innis wears a baseball cap with “B” on it. He seems part of the weathered and aged rocks surrounding his harbor house and wood-carved work. I tell him I have one too -- mine for Brooklyn Dodgers. We talk about Duke Snyder and Roy Campanella.

We bought one of his whirligigs eight years ago. We buy a second one today in Neil’s Harbor.
Neil's Harbour is a small fishing village in northern Cape Breton Island, in Victoria CountyNova ScotiaCanada. It is located between Ingonish and Dingwall, just south of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. (Wikipedia)
What they don’t say is that the doors to St Joseph’s RC church Dingwall are not open. They are locked.  A first.

We drive on.

Monday, October 13, 2014

2nd monday in October, Cape Breton

Ukranian pierogies from Holy Ghost Ukranian Catholic Sydney storytelling in song concert site. 

Thank you, it is good thanksgiving.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Washboard, squeezebox, and fiddle

Creole music live streams from Glacé Bay even though it was performed last night. It's an Atlantic Province understanding.

Thanksgiving in Cape Breton.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Why not say "God"?

The bud. 

The breaking open.

The flowering.

What can be said?

Friday, October 10, 2014


Friday morning. 


A Merwin poem --

To the Happy Few

Do you know who you are

O you forever listed
under some other heading
when you are listed at all

you whose addresses
when you have them
are never sold except
for another reason
something else that is
supposed to identify you

who carry no card
stating that you are—
what would it say you were
to someone turning it over
looking perhaps for
a date or for
anything to go by

you with no secret handshake
no proof of membership
no way to prove such a thing
even to yourselves

you without a word
of explanation
and only yourselves
as evidence

(--poem, “To the Happy Few” by W.S. Merwin, from Collected Poems: 1996-2011. © Library of America, 2013.)

May each become the evidence so many seek!

Thursday, October 09, 2014

be seen

The difficulty is when we receive new insights we file them away in dusty narratives.

Or misfile them under familiar names.

When, instead, light finds no darkness wherein to hide.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

logico redactus

The way I see it is: All knowledge is self-knowledge!

And all choices we make lead to the former sentence.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

carry across morning

Possible scattered showers, says weather website.

      weather haiku
possible, we think  
scattered drifting dreams, tree leaf 
showers earth -- autumn 
                                   [wfh, nunc ipsum]
Every explanation falls behind woodpile. Rotting wood from old excavations damp with dark soil wondering why they are moved now. For now, no explanation suffices.

Behind this season, they say, comes a cold season with harsh winds and long darkness.

One log atop another. The dropped pile is formed into retrievable shape for frosty morning slog.
[Basho] practiced Zen without insignia or ordination. Every decade he experienced a catastrophic reordering of his life. 'Let my name be "Traveler,"' he implored, following the narrow road of poetry to the far north. He shattered clever wordplay haiku to create a new mosaic of language, solitary and raw. ‘ he old verse can be about willows,’ he observed, 'but haiku requires crows picking snails in a rice paddy.'                                         -- Wendy Johnson, "Seventeen Syllable Medicine"
I will take oar and trust swell and chop to carry across morning.

Monday, October 06, 2014

in medio stat virtus

Bruno created a monastic enclosure around silence.

Imitation, like silence, sincerely forms what it flatters.

The motto of the Carthusians is Stat crux dum volvitur orbis, Latin for "The cross is steady while the world is turning."

Silence, like circle surrounding itself, evokes stillness in movement.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Particular good is done, either way

One author claims jesus was a myth.

Does it matter?

Saturday, October 04, 2014

ask no questions; tell no lies.


I have enough.

What’s that?

Yamada Roshi once asked one of his students who was a Catholic sister, "" What is the relation between Emptiness and God?" Without the least sign of trepidation she answered, "Emptiness is God. God cannot be thought of as other than emptiness."" 3 
(--Arraj, James (2012-01-14). Christianity in the Crucible of East-West Dialogue / God, Zen and the Intuition of Being (2 Volumes in 1) (Kindle Locations 145-147). Inner Growth Books and Videos, LLC. Kindle Edition.) 

There’s nothing to it.