Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Ken stopped by and spoke about Meher Baba late morning. In late afternoon sky darkens with storm clouds. Sailors make it in before downpour.

Sitting on top of a boulder,
The gorge stream icy cold.
Quiet fun holds a special charm.
Fogged-in on deserted cliffs,
A fine place to rest.
The sun leans and tree shadows sprawl;
While I view the ground of my mind,
A lotus comes out of the mud.

- Han-shan

Sky was hard to read. We are hard to read.

I don't have to tell you that the coiled double DNA helix containing the information on a human individual, that Hermetic caduceus within the nucleus of each of the individuals hundred thousand billion cells, weighs no more than one hundred thousandth of a gram but, when extended, is approximately the same length of the individual himself, so that the number of possible sequences at the molecular level is vast. If written in the three-letter words of the four-letter alphabet, a human being is determined by a genetic narrative long enough to fill the equivalent of five hundred Bibles. In the meantime human beings have discovered this for themselves.

-- That's right. They have uncovered our profoundest concept -- namely, that life is ultimately reading. They themselves are the Book of Books
(p.4, in The Discovery of Heaven, by Harry Mulisch)

Three Tibetans, one Canadian/Camdenite, two Rocklanders, and one South Hope crew made it through the pre-storm debate about what kind of story they'd be telling.

The downpour lasted a half hour.

The sun returned.

Faith is the opening of the heart and mind to what is right here before our eyes.

Jesus, the Gospel reading says, is astonished at his townsfolk's lack of faith.

Do we see what is here in our midst?

Faith. Reading oneself.

A fine place to rest.

No lie.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Have we learned to read?

"Meetingbrook is a refuge for the spiritually homeless." That's what Maria told Saskia last night after Thursday Evening Conversation.

Whenever a thought occurs,
Be aware of it.
As soon as you are aware of it,
The attachment to it will lessen.
If you remain for a long enough
Period less caught on objects,
You will naturally become unified.
This it the essential art of zazen.

- Dogen (1200-1253)

Michael and Rachel wandered in as Tom said we are being lived through. We are asked to move through what is being lived through us. Michael used the phrase 'common union' after speaking of RNA. There'd been a quote from Harry Mulisch about DNA and each individual being the Book of Books.

Trust and faith practice no barriers.

Trust, in terms of science, means we continue to ask into the code of life, obvious or hidden, without fear and without prejudice to what is emerging. Science goes beyond beliefs that precede experience. Science, like Zen, points to what is seen. "Forget what you know. Believe what you see." (James Van Praagh)

Faith, in religious terms, is willingness to follow the inquiry wherever it leads. Faith asks 'What is this?' with open heart open mind, willing to move through what is being questioned, willing to embody the response. This is where what we know about God is secondary to what we see through the sight of God.

I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me, but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just what the Father has commanded me. Get up, let us go. (Jn.14: 30-31)

Referencing the ruler of the world -- whether the prince of lies in biblical parlance, or lies and distortions of truth by secular and religious rulers in our time and times past -- Jesus wishes both to warn and reassure us.

The warning confirms there are dangerous times and dangerous persons in the world. Truth, love, justice, and peace will be ravaged in the name of truth, justice, love, and peace.

Reassurance is given that this one, here the Christ, is free. Jesus -- now in the transforming process of suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension -- will not be deceived or overcome by lies. Rather -- truth, love, justice, and peace are the body of Christ that will be illuminated by the breath and sight of the Holy Spirit.

In a curious translation a Sunday Missal (1961) translated by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, the words for (Jn.14: 30-31) read, “ For in Me he has nothing.” The (New American Bible) translation, “He has no power over me” feels different even from “he has no hold on me,” used in the Jerome Biblical Commentary (1968) by Bruce Vawter.

Three phrasings:
1· “in Me he has nothing,” has the ring of kenosis – a self-emptying – wherein the prince arrives at an abandoned place, a nothingness that has dissolved its ego, no longer bound by any real or imagined enticements to separated, divided, or dualistic being in the world.
2· “no power over me,” suggests mightiness, a well-defended fortress against which the prince cannot prevail, left standing impotent and frustrated.
3· “no hold on me,” has the feel of freedom from coercion, lack of entrapment, a loosing of conditioning that allows the speaker to avoid the clutch of the prince.

And there are other translations. “There are limitations inherent in all translations,” the editors of the JBC tell us. If we are to read the scriptures of the Judeo-Christian tradition we have to acknowledge the difference and limitation of the words presented to us.

So also with the Book of Books in the prologue of Harry Mulisch’s The Discovery of Heaven. The millions of data within a cell. The inner reading available to us. The translation each one of us presents to the outer world.

Martin Heidegger writes, "In his draft for the hymn 'Mnemosyne' (Memory), Hoelderlin says:
"We are a sign that is not read,
We feel no pain, we almost have
Lost our tongue in foreign lands."

(from Lecture 1 in What Is Called Thinking, MH quoting Friedrich Holderlin)

Freedom longs to be read -- “…less caught on objects, You will naturally become unified…”

Zazen is the reading, the “common union” we embody with stillness and silence.

'Read me,' says freedom.

Come home.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

How much time remains?

I enjoy my lifelong path
Between misty vines and rocky caves
In the wilds there’s room to spare
And time to accompany clouds
This road doesn’t reach the world
Only the mindless can climb
I sit alone nights on a couch of stone
While the round moon comes up Cold Mountain

- Han-shan

There is a shift needed. Meaning, like soggy toast, falls from itself. Mind cannot find meaning.

Each thing resides in its own place. Overturned bottom-painted rowboat. High grass along two-wheel road. Resignation of tossed shirts atop one another.

A lovely emptiness disturbs with peace the mindless rest between this and that. It's been that way all day. No memories are formed. Nothing is forgotten.

Something mere. A simple quiet. Uncomprehending yet bemusing lack of interest.

What on one level gives every appearance of vacancy -- if seen in shifting light -- becomes just one gaze without someone gazing nor something gazed at.

Even the world is metaphor.

Off to the side a poet hears nothing to word.

The Buddha says we're on our own.

The Christ wonders why he's been abandoned.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Comes sunfalling this 1st of July.

Sun starts at treetops. Comes down mountain. Pauses on canopy leaf. Sets itself inside Nuthatch chirp just beyond honey spackle rough wood light crossing cabin porch. Warms face of barn where Phoebe stutter-stop on Gaia flagpole in and out passing.

Why sit? Because we're here and we do.
Why sunrise? Because birds chirp and earth turns.

Why pray? Why look? Why listen?
Because God is breath itself breathing through our silent song. Presence practices itself through awake and aware stillness. Light moves itself through all that holds and reflects it's passing.
...

Sit, over. Next, chant. Bow, return to porch.
...

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.

- Menzan Zuiho (1682-1769)(dailyzen.com)

Patches of sunlight spot ground pathing itself back up to sound of brook. Longer song and stretch of car noise. Woman arrives with four fresh flowers and two groomed dogs. Three and four of them resume silent stillness surrounding sunlight through window at rest on wall and blanket covering zafu and zabuton.

Red squirrel and chipmunk, Cardinal and Chickadee choral green mottled morning at foot of Ragged Mountain. Lite breeze pushes white "Open" letters under dove carrying olive branch on purple banner hanging off corner of cabin.

Today the Catholic parish, Our Lady of Good Hope, has its first resident pastor since a year ago. He arrives and says Mass at 8am. The tradition of remembering the presence, sight, and passage of Christ is done in gesture, word, and liturgical gratefulness in a building named 'gathering place' in the middle of town.

Here, sunlight settles over, in, and through the living earth. Birdcall, like sanctuary bell, beckons awareness to what is taking place. Here and there "what is taking place" watches with Christ as we, awake or asleep, rest in his peace.

Now, Lord, dismiss me.

Melt.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Today begins our 8th year.

Three moments, some say objects, more likely icons, in the cabin, our chapel/zendo, from floor to gable, this morning, catch my attention.

A man of the Way comes rapping
At my brushwood gate,
Wanting to discuss the essentials of Zen experience.
Don’t take it wrong if this mountain monk’s
Too lazy to open his mouth:
Late spring warblers singing their heart out,
A village of drifting petals.

- Jakushitsu Genko (1290-1367)

Seated Buddha on floor.
Cross-center circling outward/inward hangs eye-level.
Mother/child embrace gazes from rafter height across to loft.

These three items, maybe occasions of reflection, tell the day our life as we sit.

Contemplation;
Conversation;
Correspondence.

Or:
Awareness,
Sacrifice,
Nuptiality.

Today, eight years ago, we opened the doors of Meetingbrook Bookshop/Bakery. Ed says after Susan from Indiana leaves and John from Philadelphia walks back uptown that he doesn't know how we've managed to stay open. True.

How? A grinding. Two and a third. Wearing away edges. Smoothing one into another's contours.

Needless to say, all this has felt like being ground between two millstones, but one thing is more and more clear each time the stones go round: I don't desire anything in the world, not writing, not teaching, not any kind of consolation or outward activity: I simply long with my whole existence to be completely consecrated to God in every gesture, every breath and every moment of my mind and body, to the exclusion of absolutely everything, except Him: and the way I desire this, by His grace, is the way it is among the Trappists. (Thomas Merton, in letter to Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Dec.6,1941)

Two need not be oppositional. Rather, two is prelude to three. Three is not a crowd. Three is the way two become themselves. Three is the child one and one go through two to be.

There is music and laughter, puns and quiet spots at the shop this sunny Sunday afternoon.

Here is the threesome for today:
Shunyata, (Transparant stillness);
Kenosis, (Emptying oneself);
Sandokai. (Harmony of Difference and Equality), or, one and two meet greeting touch.

Schooner with growlish engine passes through harbor channel. Sam and Susan leave under loon call. Carter and SSH talk dance steps by dark and cool fireplace. Robert and Su.Sane sing with Saskia, Virginia and Hugh on patio. Lola watches Mt. Battie under green straw hat.

There it is.

Every time I bow when entering and leaving chapel/zendo I move through Contemplation, Conversation, and Correspondence.

Child of this bow, parenting transparency and emptiness, greet and touch with harmony.

Peter and Paul give way to each one ever after.

A village of drifting petals.

Lovely.