Today At Meetingbrook

Friday, August 02, 2002




MINI

We hold hand and paw together
Holding our love
Gratefulness
In this journey together

With several other dogs
Of this family she is
Now joined
Her black and white beauty
Filled with Gods light
She would twitch her tail
At sound of her name
Called

What mystery this holding this time
Passing watching
Her last meow called me
Down
Her paw reaching out
for touch and hold
forever entwined
We lay curled together
Thank you Minoosh
Your love, your purrrrrrrrr and meow
Are always with me

Geh mit Gott
Du treuer Knecht.
Du liebes treues Katzenkind


(August 2, 2002, poem by Saskia Huising.)
Mini dies

Through night, on bed,
under Madonna with child,
her last breath come and gone,
on brown and tan blanket --
This lovely
black and white cat --
Mini leaves time for now.

(wfh2aug02)

We are left with our lives. Sando licks my hand when I touch her. Cisco laying craggy sore from solo jaunt up the mountain yesterday. Saskia baking, sniffling readying our sitting and psalms with this friend cat companion of baker's dozen years. And I, with ways and words that wander through uncut undergrowth, step slowly with each. We move our awkward way as does the nameless sage passing by this place, transparent and transfusing every open heart willing her grace, every open mind willing his wisdom, every open hope willing its blessing.

As to the roaming of sages,
They move in utter emptiness,
Let their minds meander in the great nothingness;
They run beyond convention
And go through where there is no gateway.
They listen to the soundless
And look at the formless,
They are not constrained by society
And not bound to its customs.

- Lao-tze

Here is where we are. Every here every one of us finds ourselves passing through.

Sylvia, yesterday, after Thursday Evening Conversation showed us the book Hope's Edge. Its epigraph:

Hope cannot be said to exist,
nor can it be said not to exist,
It is just like the roads across the earth.
For actually there were no roads to begin with,
but when many people pass one way
a road is made.

(- Lu Hsun)

Mini was a road through our lives. Grateful, we sit with her passing. The earth calls to her. We become hands and shovels.

We are each a road longing to be made for one another, or many others, to pass their way with hope.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

At Wednesday Evening Conversation Dirk reminded the circle of the Native American words -- 'This is my story; this is my medicine.'

Sylvia B., following a thread, pulled a row from Meetingbrook's fabric, to unravel the Bookshop vs. Laura deliberations. We take this August1st off to unravel with Mini her life. We sit with her on grass under cedar tree outside house at Ragged as cars accelerate up Barnestown. It is very unusual to sit at the house and feel the quiet amidst passing conveyers.

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. (--Epictetus )

What would life be like without bookshop and bakery, if hermitage were it? If our service and our employment were spokes from where we live? What do we have?

Prayer, practice, study, -- and an engaged presence flowing from deepening simplicity, silence, and service – would this be the way to pass?

All the objects of the senses
Interact and yet do not.
Interacting brings involvement.
Otherwise, each keeps its place.
Eye and sights, ear and sounds,
Nose and smells, tongue and tastes;
Thus with each and every thing,
Depending on these roots,
The leaves spread forth.

- Shitou Xiqian (700–790)

The leaves shade Mini flat against grass. She is rooted with the four of us -- Saskia, Sando, Cisco, and I -- at the place she prepares to die. One by one cars pass up hill, down hill. She breathes shallow and slow. The passing people do not know what is taking place near to where they pass. Any of us seldom know. I pray for them as they pass. I don't know what is taking place in their lives. Who can but surmise from a list of common human concerns and joys?

THE THREE ODDEST WORDS

When I pronounce the word Future,
the first syllable already belongs to the past.

When I pronounce the word Silence,
I destroy it.

When I pronounce the word Nothing,
I make something no nonbeing can hold.

(-Poem by Wieslawa Szymborska )

Who can hold what does not exist? Who is free from delusions and illusions arising with phenomena and actions? Still, we can find our way through all of this -- delights and difficulties alike -- with a peaceful joy that transfuses and transforms what is passing and what is passed.

There are many odd words. Words like, 'shut up,' 'go home.' This is our story. This is our medicine.

We only pass this way forever.

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

As an end approaches, only silence suffices.

Withdraw now from
the invisible pounding and weaving
of your ingrained ideas.
If you want to be rid of this
invisible turmoil, you must just sit
through it and let go of everything.
Attain fulfillment and illuminate thoroughly.
Light and shadow altogether forgotten.
Drop off your own skin,
and the sense-dusts will be fully purified.
The eye then readily discerns the brightness.

- Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091–1157)

As silence aproaches, only our end suffices.

You will be holy with the holy, kind with the kind, with the chosen you will be chosen, but with the crooked you will show your cunning. (Psalm 18)

So we pray.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002


Mini is weakening. She lay in window looking out at dooryard. Saskia places food and water near her wherever she hunches down. Her meow is faint. Her movements slow. Drip of water is injected in her for absorption by Saskia. She has not much time. She watches. We watch her. The dogs watch with respectful distance. We are all watched by the watching we do in and with the sight of God.

II. Early Morning. The Hour of Prime.

O blessed, silent one, who speaks everywhere!

We do not hear the soft voice, the gentle voice, the
merciful and feminine.

We do not hear mercy, or yielding love, or non-resistance,
or non-reprisal. In her there are no reasons and no answers.
Yet she is the candor of God's light, the expression of His
simplicity.

We do not hear the uncomplaining pardon that bows
down the innocent visages of flowers to the dewy
earth. We do not see the Child who is prisoner in all
the people, and who says nothing. She smiles, for
though they have bound her, she cannot be a prisoner.
Not that she is strong, or clever, but simply that
she does not understand imprisonment.

The helpless one, abandoned to sweet sleep, him the
gentle one will awake: Sophia.

All that is sweet in her tenderness will speak to him
on all sides in everything, without ceasing, and he
will never be the same again. He will have awakened
not to conquest and dark pleasure but to the impeccable
pure simplicity of One consciousness in all and through all:
one Wisdom, one Child, one Meaning, one Sister.

The stars rejoice in their setting, and in the rising of
the Sun. The heavenly lights rejoice in the going
forth of one man to make a new world in the morning,
because he has come out of the confused primordial dark
night into consciousness. He has expressed the clear silence
of Sophia in his own heart. He has become eternal.

(- from poem Hagia Sophia - Written in 1963, by Thomas Merton)

Going in and out the prison these 17 years has brought a subtle realization about imprisonment. It is the imprisonment of understanding that secludes most of us from grace; the imprisonment of understanding excludes us from radical freedom.

Whenever a thought occurs,
Be aware of it,
As soon as you are aware of it,
It will vanish.
If you remain for a long period
Forgetful of objects,
You will naturally become unified.
This is the essential art of zazen.

- Dogen (1200-1253)

Becoming aware of thoughts and how they tend to control our minds and actions is a first step from exclusion and seclusion. Most thoughts are comparative. They categorize, judge, evaluate, and suggest equalizing actions of revenge, progress, getting even, or running away. Thoughts about a thing or a person are not the thing itself, not the person herself. Thoughts are, most often, veils obscuring things, persons, oneself.

It becomes tricky to try to unravel thoughts, to arrive at the thing itself, the person himself. If we could learn to practice with thoughts what we naturally do with breath -- namely, let breath come, let it go, in, out, arrival, and departure. So too with thoughts -- let them come, let them go, in, out, arrival, departure. We do not try to hold our breath for much longer than a few seconds. We might try the same template with thoughts -- don't hold them, let them exit, let them pass on.

Remaining a virgin (i.e. chaste, fresh, unspoiled) is not as difficult as becoming a virgin. Each breath enters, and then leaves. Each thought might do the same -- enter, then leave -- if we allow that natural process to work. What we do, instead, is grab, hold, chew, and ruminate different thoughts until they are broken down, sliced and diced, fermented in gastric juices, then translated into behavior that is very often not chaste, fresh, or unspoiled.

To think, that is, look into or see, is one thing. To have a thought, that is, to mull or turn over and over a captured impression, is making something other.
By allowing perception and impression to flow in and out of us is to invite intuition to take place. Intuition is allowing one to see into one passing through. It is a glimpse and free action, like catch and release fishing.

Perhaps only a virgin -- not necessarily a historical or biological virgin, but a spiritual virgin -- can see Christ-life passing through.

Reading From a sermon by Saint Peter Chrysologus, bishop
"The sacrament of Christ's incarnation"
A virgin conceived, bore a son, and yet remained a virgin. This is no common occurrence, but a sign; no reason here, but God’s power, for he is the cause, and not nature. It is a special event, not shared by others; it is divine, not human. Christ’s birth was not necessity, but an expression of omnipotence, a sacrament of piety for the redemption of men. He who made man without generation from pure clay made man again and was born from a pure body. The hand that assumed clay to make our flesh deigned to assume a body for our salvation. That the Creator is in his creature and God is in the flesh brings dignity to man without dishonour to him who made him.
Why then, man, are you so worthless in your own eyes and yet so precious to God? Why render yourself such dishonour when you are honoured by him? Why do you ask how you were created and do not seek to know why you were made? Was not this entire visible universe made for your dwelling? It was for you that the light dispelled the overshadowing gloom; for your sake was the night regulated and the day measured, and for you were the heavens embellished with the varying brilliance of the sun, the moon and the stars. The earth was adorned with flowers, groves and fruit; and the constant marvellous variety of lovely living things was created in the air, the fields, and the seas for you, lest sad solitude destroy the joy of God’s new creation. And the Creator still works to devise things that can add to your glory. He has made you in his image that you might in your person make the invisible Creator present on earth; he has made you his legate, so that the vast empire of the world might have the Lord’s representative. Then in his mercy God assumed what he made in you; he wanted now to be truly manifest in man, just as he had wished to be revealed in man as in an image. Now he would be in reality what he had submitted to be in symbol.
And so Christ is born that by his birth he might restore our nature. He became a child, was fed, and grew that he might inaugurate the one perfect age to remain for ever as he had created it. He supports man that man might no longer fall. And the creature he had formed of earth he now makes heavenly;
and what he had endowed with a human soul he now vivifies to become a heavenly spirit. In this way he fully raised man to God, and left in him neither sin, nor death, nor travail, nor pain, nor anything earthly, with the grace of our Lord Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, for all the ages of eternity. Amen.
http://www.universalis.com/cgi-bin/display/USA/-400/readings.htm

"To restore our nature" -- that is, chaste, fresh, unspoiled, -- is what is meant by saving the life and soul of someone or something. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh invited his friend Jim to save the life of the orange he was eating -- which he was not paying attention to as he ate it. By tasting it, smelling it, and carefully attending to it -- Jim would save its life. Things get old, sour, or spoiled when we ignore, dismiss, or withdraw our loving attention from them.

Someone or something loved never dies. They pass, yes. But never die. Love and prayer transfuse time and biological ends. To transfuse -- that is, to cause to pass from one to another -- is how we remain connected. Something or someone prayed for continually nears completion. It might not arrive in the time we designate, but prayer causes one's longing to enter the sight of God, and God is beyond time. The eternal is out of time. Prayer goes there. So does love. They transfuse us with what is loved and prayed for to that which is chaste, fresh, and unspoiled.

This trinity of being is grace, unity, and realized love. This is prime.

At this Hour of Prime, we pray for all who are dying, and for ourselves -- now, and at the hour of our death.

Monday, July 29, 2002

The wooden barrel in my room overflows with refuse. It needs emptying, This Monday we stay away from harbor shop, retaining one day off. The joke about Maine’s two seasons – winter and the 4th of July – gets played out with us. We opened one Monday a few days after the 4th, and then decided that was it.

Saint Francis And The Sow

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don't flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath
them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

(- by Galway Kinnell )

At Sunday Evening Practice we wondered exactly why it was the vast majority of us do not understand the intimate relatedness each has with each in this existence. Who has gone out of their way to teach us we are alien strangers to each other and God? Who has thrown doubt on our loveliness, enticing us to unlearn and forget our jewel-like magnificence as part of God?

Be like children, Jesus counsels. What does that mean? Does that suggest we return to a trusting attitude, a reliance without question, a refuge-taking openness to the protecting presence of God, saints, angels, as well as seen and unseen spiritual guardians who wander nameless through this existence?

"Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her."
(Luke 10:38-42, New Revised Standard Version)

Martha tries to incite her sister Mary to help her make things right. If only we were to fix the place, tidy up, organize our environment, be perfect hosts and hostesses – all will be well. The text makes us curious. What is the better part Jesus is referring to?

I don’t know.

Was he saying that all is well? That it is already all right? That all of it, the light/dark, good/bad, the collapsing/restoration, the dying/living, and the resting/busying – all these tensions are just fine? That there is no need to place one higher than the other, no need to sort it out now? That now is the time to attend with alertness and compassion to the sound of Christ, the sound of wisdom and compassion laying foundation to the longings of the human heart?

When we sit in silence we’re not really trying to clarify these questions and search for answers. When we sit we just sit. When we walk we just walk. When we watch the breeze flutter leaves we just watch the breeze fluttering leaves. The practice of doing just what we are doing, the practice of seeing just what we are seeing -- this is enough.

Our minds and hearts are restless, always wanting things to be other than they are -- better, different, cleaner, more profitable, clearer, wiser, kinder, and so forth. We so seldom see things just as they are, thereby not seeing things with all their mystery and majesty, not seeing things in all their squalor and misery. If we don’t see things as they are, how can we possibly engage them with integrity -- we are only seeing part – and therefore we are only seeing as partial beings, not as what we long to be, whole and familial, with God, neighbor, creation itself.

What is that “one thing” Jesus words?

Like his words about the wheat and the weeds Jesus seems to be reminding us we can’t have one without the other. That if we attempt to cut away the other, we might also be cutting away the one.

Our discriminating thinking and judging minds have come to believe we are capable of ridding from our lives what is bad, evil, ugly, graceless, wrong, and negative. These manifestations with their attendant behaviors are indeed undesirable and worrisome. But are we really able to eliminate these things from this existence?

If you think that you have
cut off illusory mind,
instead of simply clarifying
how illusory mind melts,
illusory mind will come up again,
as though you had cut
the stem of a blade of grass
and left the root alive.

- Menzen Zuiho (1682 –1769)

Cutting off something usually reintroduces it in another form. What then are we to do? Suffer what we consider wrong, ugly, or hateful?

Menzen Zuiho nears what Jesus is saying. Our illusory mind must be watched, watched until it dissolves. Perhaps the way to find the “one thing” of Jesus is to see what is one – all of it.

Kinnell, in his poem, said:
The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don't flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;


What will we see if we see from within?
What will we see when we see from within what is seen?
What will we be seen as, when we are seen within what is seeing?

How understand Christ's mind?
In the celebration of the Eucharist, in the Roman Missal found at a library sale, the Doxology ends in Latin: Per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso, est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti, in unitate Spiritus Sancti, omnis honor et gloria. Per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen. (Through him, and with him and in him, is to you, God the Father almighty, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, all honor and glory. For ever and ever. Amen.)

How understand Christ-mind?
May the Gracious Sight of God be through, and with, and in us -- in unity with the Spirit of Holiness Itself -- all honor and glory with the Source and Sustainer of All Being! May it be so!

Martha? Mary? Jesus? --- Is this our tripartite wholeness “which will not be taken away from” us?

And is “the long, perfect loveliness of sow” no other than the long, perfect loveliness of now?

Sunday, July 28, 2002

Nancy from Portland spoke by phone yesterday. She wondered about community. It set me thinking about why anyone does or does not long for a spiritual life shared (near or far) with others called sangha or community.

One of the reasons that there are less and less religious communities today is that no one wants to live with anyone else. There is a huge movement towards individualism. The monk asks himself: Why should I have to live with such a cranky and unhealthy person? And the answer from Saint Benedict is this: Christ is present in each brother and I must find that presence, particularly in those brothers who are most difficult for me to accept. (- Abbot Philip, OSB, Monastery of Christ in the Desert)

There is a song in the musical Man of La Mancha that is entitled "What Do You Want of Me?" Lyrics by Joe Darion. Aldonza sings this song, as she attempts to come to an understanding of this "knight" who has entered her life and begun to melt her heart by opening her eyes to a better life beyond her current state of despair.

Why do you do the things you do?
Why do you do these things?
Why do you march through that dream that you're in --
Covered in glory and rusty old tin --
Why try to be what nobody can be
And what do you want of me?
What do you want of me?

Why do you do the things you do?
Why do you do these things?
Why do you rush at the world all alone --
Fighting mad battles that aren't your own --
Why do you live in a world that can't be
And what do you want of me?
What do you want of me?

Why don't you know that you're laughed, at wherever you go?
But I ... cannot laugh with the rest ... and why, I don't know ...

Why do you do the things you do?
Why do you do these things?
Why do you batter at wall that won't break?
And why do you give when it's natural to take --
Where do you see all the good that you see --
And what do you want of me?
What do you want of me?


(- from website http://homepages.together.net/~donutrun/quix.htm#Whatdo, by Donutrun Presents )

When one enters the awareness of Christ-Life what is seen is a glimpse of honor, duty, fellowship, love, and sacrifice. When one enters the awareness of Buddha-Life what is seen is a glimpse of suchness, thusness, compassion, service, and sacrifice. With both forms of God's Life here with us, there is a glimpse of who we are, and who we are in each other's life. There is perhaps only a glimpse -- but that's enough for now. What Christians call their gathering --"One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic" -- is not far from what Buddhists call "This One," -- that which is our common life with all that is.

To know that you are God is another way of saying that you feel completely with this universe. You feel profoundly rooted in it and connected with it. You feel, in other words, that the whole energy which expresses itself in the galaxies is intimate. It is not something to which you are a stranger, but it is that with which you, whatever that is, are intimately bound up. That in your seeing, your hearing, your talking, your thinking, your moving, you express that which it is which moves the sun and other stars. If you don't know that, if you don't feel that, well naturally you feel alien. You feel a stranger in the world. And if you feel a stranger you feel hostile. And therefore you start to bulldoze things about, to beat it up, and to try to make the world submit to your will. And you become a real trouble maker. (-web audio snippet, Alan Watts)

Someone in a shop conversation the other day said what sounded like "You have to guru up" to make a point about the spiritual life. What he actually said was, "You have to grow up." There was laughter -- and, an important point. In America we are hesitant to give our lives over to anyone. It's not in our ethos to abandon ourselves to another. There are dangers in doing so -- accepting teachings that are merely given to us, to accept without questioning, to blindly follow. It used to be easier to do so -- with attendant abuses. Now, we are more cautious, circumspect. (It is also curious that this reluctance has affected institutions as varied as religious life, marriage, corporate life, and other forums where belonging calls for self-donation.)

Just don’t seek from others,
Or you’ll be far estranged from Self.
I now go on alone;
Everywhere I meet It:
It now is me; I now am It.
One must understand in this way
To merge with thusness.

- Dongshan Liangjie (807–869)

Solomon asked God for something unusual. God responded: I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you." (-1Kings3)

"Up to now," is a lovely phrase. And "Now?" Can we become "no one?" And by being "no one" do we find what equals us? This is a tricky glimpse. It is centered on real humility, not on degradation of person.

Jesus forwarded a tricky glimpse when he said: “Have you understood all this?” They said to him, “Yes”. And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old”. (-Matthew 13:52)

"What is old and what is new" is a good description of the householder treasure profoundly within each one of us. This "kingdom of heaven" - as recently read in a Bishop's posting, The Kingdom offers ongoing joy for those who find themselves within...is there for those who find themselves within.

Alan Watts' lectures are full of tricky glimpses.
The word _tathata_, which is translated from the Sanskrit as 'suchness' or 'thusness' or something like that, really means something more like 'dadada,' based on the word _tat_, which in Sanskrit means 'that,' and so in Sanskrit it is said _tat lum asi_, 'that thou art,' or in modern America, 'you're it.' But 'da, da'--that's the first sound a baby makes when it comes into the world, because the baby looks around and says 'da, da, da, da' and fathers flatter themselves and think it's saying 'DaDa,' which means 'Daddy,' but according to Buddhist philosophy, all this universe is one 'dadada.' That means 'ten thousand functions, ten thousand things, one suchness,' and we're all one suchness. And that means that suchness comes and goes like anything else because this whole world is an on-and-off system. As the Chinese say, it's the _yang_ and the _yin_, and therefore it consists of 'now you see it, now you don't, here you are, here you aren't, here you are,' because that the nature of energy, to be like waves, and waves have crests and troughs, only we, being under a kind of sleepiness or illusion, imagine that the trough is going to overcome the wave or the crest, the _yin_, or the dark principle, is going to overcome the _yang_, or the light principle, and that 'off' is going to finally triumph over 'on.' And we, shall I say, bug ourselves by indulging in that illusion. 'Hey, supposing darkness did win out, wouldn't that be terrible!' And so we're constantly trembling and thinking that it may, because after all, isn't it odd that anything exists? It's most peculiar, it requires effort, it requires energy, and it would have been so much easier for there to have been nothing at all. Therefore, we think 'well, since being, since the 'is' side of things is so much effort' you always give up after a while and you sink back into death. But death is just the other face of energy, and it's the rest, the not being anything around, that produces something around, just in the same way that you can't have 'solid' without 'space,' or 'space' without 'solid.' When you wake up to this, and realize that the more it changes the more it's the same thing, as the French say, that you are really a train of this one energy, and there is nothing else but that that is you, but that for you to be always you would be an insufferable bore, and therefore it is arranged that you stop being you after a while and then come back as someone else altogether, and so when you find that out, you become full energy and delight. As Blake said, 'Energy is eternal delight.' (- from Lecture on Zen, by Alan Watts)

I told Nancy we are a loosely knit association of individuals who travel the meditative & contemplative road from dependence to independence to interdependence in our spiritual lives.

We are only voices to each other as we encounter each other right now.
We are voices in each other. We are listening to the voice of God within.

This is an eternal delight.