Today At Meetingbrook

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. 

Friday, October 03, 2014

Deano carved a cross for us

Some say Francis mirrored Christ.

Some say Christ mirrored God.

Some say God mirrors nothing but Teshuvah returning to source itself.

Transitus of Francis.

Eve of Yom Kippur.

Rokie’s birthday tomorrow.

Each is alone.

God is the Alone.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

a dialogue with a student

"...both speakers were focused primarily on there Here and Now. I am, I think, incurably oriented toward the Hereafter..."([sic] from student's paper)
You raise one of my favorite topics, namely, the investigation into the terms "time" and "eternity" as well as "here" and "now."
I have changed my perspective. Part of my association with thinkers such as Ramon Panikkar, Teilhard de Chardin, Jean Gebser, and various Zen figures (e.g.Dogen Zenji Eihei) -- has been to collapse the ordinary distinctions and view now as then, time as a concretion of eternity, and hereafter as the pleroma (i.e. fullness) of now. [As we say in New York: "We're just talkin', right?"] And so, what is here and now is the partial seeking wholeness. Our inability to see things whole, or, if when seeing things whole our unwillingness to give credence or active respect to what we've experienced, leads us to enshrine the partial, protect it, and hunker down in it. 
The partial is a temporary dwelling. What we call the "intellect, will, soul", seeks the whole when they are not fearful or so self-involved that to move toward the whole would be deemed unprofitable. My attitude toward the partial is becoming believing in it and respectful of it. It is the oak seed, insight, and current habits that, of their own, will grow toward maturity and ripen. The phrase "of their own" suggests to me an inner guidance that, if heeded, sustains, nurtures, and thrives. (Of course, we are always dealing with those whose partiality would siphon off, eradicate, embellish, distract, deaden, fix, and/or dismiss those whose partiality does not gibe with theirs.)
Eternity, the word, contrary to common usage, does not mean "endless time." It means no time. 
But enough about me. Below is 1) definition from; and, 2) an interesting physician's commencement talk that speaks from his perspective. 



[ih-tur-nl] Spell Syllables adjective   

without beginning or end; lasting forever; always existing (opposed to temporal ): 
eternal life.
perpetual; ceaseless; endless:
eternal quarreling; eternal chatter.
enduring; immutable:
eternal principles.
Metaphysics. existing outside all relations of time; not subject tochange.
something that is eternal.
the Eternal, God.
2) Found the below talk in PMC,  US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Healtha service of NCBI. The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information.
The talk is titled, "From Here and Now to Infinity and Eternity: A Message to New Medical Doctors*" by José Florencio F. Lapeña, Jr., B.A. (Hons), M.A., M.D., FPCS, FPSOHNS, FPAHNS**

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

What is required

October reminds me of catholic heritage. Therese, Angels, Francis, on into the month.

So much seems so fading. I'm a write in for next years Holy Week at Trappists. That's something to notice. Each year I think, that's it. Like long time monks who don't know if they believe in God, we find that belief is a silly descriptive.

Habit of mind, activity of body, sight of intuition -- these seem more appropriate.

Churches no longer attract. Scripture seems banal. The rituals have floated free of tether.

Firewood is stacked. Locker is emptied of blue jacket. Tuna fish with sauerkraut and cheese on pita bread suffices for evening meal.

The ineffable requires silence.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Vulgate, for we common people

Jerome sent his Biblical Commentary into prison. It visited our table once or twice. Well, he didn't exactly write it. Some folks in the 20th century put it together. In his name.

Much like the Bible itself. In God's name. Who some of the men thought was sociopathic in the old days. Worse, these men could not understand the unread interpretation given the scriptures by the "saved" behind bars. Hard to like God if God's friends were arrogant know-it-alls who, like similar fundamentalist Muslims, blithely sent to hell anyone not down with their particular (peculiar?) interpretation of what the words say.

Jerome (347-420) had his own battles.

St. Jerome was a Biblical scholar in the fourth century. He studied and was baptized in Rome, then returned to his native Aquileia where he lived an ascetic life. Around 374, he headed for Palestine, but was delayed in Antioch, where he heard the lectures of Apollinarius and decided to live as a hermit in the Syrian desert. He learned Hebrew, returned to Antioch and was ordained. He spent time in Constantinople and then returned to Rome, where he became secretary to Pope Damasus. After the Pope’s death, he visited Egypt, Palestine, and Antioch, before settling in Bethlehem. There he founded a new men’s monastery, and continued his scholar work. St. Jerome was involved in many theological controversies of the time including those regarding Arianism, the virginity of Mary, and the teachings of Origen. Some of St. Jerome’s greatest scholarly achievements are his translations of most of the Bible into Latin, a bibliography of the ecclesiastical writers, and translations of the works of Eusebius, Origen, and Didymus. Also, he wrote many Biblical commentaries where he infused topography and linguistics into his discussions. St. Jerome is one of the four original doctors of the Western Church.       (Written by Sarah Ciotti)
Words are so interesting.

What they say is even more interesting.

And the context, say, prison, among the skeptics.

Refreshingly complex and perplexing!

Monday, September 29, 2014


beyond reason

can you imagine

being delivered

such a message


Sunday, September 28, 2014

no, one; at all

It’s hard not to read about state governors who are variably described as odd, off, or awful. So few of us would acknowledge such appellation fit personal appraisal of ourselves.

Unless you were comfortable with such awkward designation.

Signs of such perplexity could be helpful.
Zen does not teach concentration, so much as it teaches you how to give yourself perplexity as a way of controlling your mind. It teaches that you must inevitably experience the complexities and sorrows of human life. Obviously, knowing perplexity and suffering need not take the form of Zazen meditation or the Koan; there are plenty of things in daily life that will provide chances to have this kind of Zen experience. 
People who are deeply experienced in Zen meditation are rarely solemn or saintly in the conventional way. On the contrary they are people who are filled with bright interest in their surroundings. They are easily surprised. They laugh easily. And even people who have less Zen experience than advanced priests say that , after a session of meditation, they see and hear everything with greeter clarity and vividness.  
(pp.54-55, in Zen Meditation Therapy, by Tomio Hirai MD, c.1975)
These Days of Awe! 
The ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur are commonly known as the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim) or the Days of Repentance. This is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent before Yom Kippur.   
One of the ongoing themes of the Days of Awe is the concept that G-d has "books" that he writes our names in, writing down who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life, for the next year. These books are written in on Rosh Hashanah, but our actions during the Days of Awe can alter G-d's decree. The actions that change the decree are "teshuvah, tefilah and tzedakah," repentance, prayer, good deeds (usually, charity). These "books" are sealed on Yom Kippur. This concept of writing in books is the source of the common greeting during this time is "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."  
Among the customs of this time, it is common to seek reconciliation with people you may have wronged during the course of the year. The Talmud maintains that Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and G-d. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible.            
(Judaism 101), 
I’ve not righted much in my life. It is unfortunate. This is clear to me. It is vivid. It sorrows.
Probably I am an ordinary middle-class  
believer in individual rights, the word 
"freedom" is simple to me, it doesn't mean 
the freedom of any class in particular.  
Politically naive, with an average  
education (brief moments of clear vision  
are its main nourishment), I remember 
the blazing appeal of that fire which parches  
the lips of the thirsty crowd and burns  
books and chars the skin of cities. I used to sing  
those songs and I know how great it is 
 to run with others; later, by myself,  
with the taste of ashes in my mouth, I heard  
the lie's ironic voice and the choir screaming  
and when I touched my head I could feel  
the arched skull of my country, its hard edge.   
(--Poem, Fire, by Adam Zagajewski; Translated by Renata Gorczynski)
I dislike suppression of dissent as much as I dislike idiocy of bizarre theories that distract from intelligently coming to terms with complexity.  

I dislike authoritative dismissal of concerns about governance as much as I dislike lazy, self-serving patriotism and elitism found in pablum or halls of power.

I dislike trappings of holiness and ex-officio appropriation of the sacred as much as I dislike blithe blithering about abstract and insubstantial miasma.
Along this road  
Goes no one;  
This autumn evening. 
No one

at            all

Going away



is not


Saturday, September 27, 2014






Friday, September 26, 2014

what do you see?

The Jewish man explained the beginning.

In Hebrew the word בְּרֵאשִׁית, Bereʾšyt, is translated as “In the beginning”.  

He was impassioned and eloquent.

The group of us listened.

Then it was time to return to their cells, lock in, wait for count, then lunch.

I walked through eleven doors, seven of them secure and locked.

We wished each other”shana tova,” eyes unlocked.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

If we return to source, where does source return to?

Panta the cat climbs to nestling spot on steel shelving.

Rokpa the dog will be up on sofa by now.

I sneeze twice.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rosh Hashanah, Hebrew: רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה‎





Carrying and stacking old wood in new place by barn and kitchen.

Rowing harbor.

Sitting zazen and reading Thich Nhat Hanh.

The day goes on.

Returning and returning.