Today At Meetingbrook

Friday, August 08, 2003

It can equally be said this birthday is the first and it is the last.

Heavy rain and fog -- this morning -- dawning.

The moon is a house
In which the mind is master.
Look very closely:
Only impermanence lasts.
This floating world, too, will pass.

- Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481)

Leaving shop last night, high tide just outside door of small cape on harbor, Jon asks if there is anything special about 59. "No," I answer. He nods. Says goodnight. I say, "I love you." Door closes. We rush off to Graves Market for chocolate with only a few minutes before 9pm closing.

Advice to a Girl

No one worth possessing
Can be quite possessed;
Lay that on your heart,
My young angry dear;
This truth, this hard and precious stone,
Lay it on your hot cheek,
Let it hide your tear.
Hold it like a crystal
When you are alone
And gaze in the depths of the icy stone.
Long, look long and you will be blessed:
No one worth possessing
Can be quite possessed.

(Poem by Sara Teasdale from Mirror of the Heart, Macmillan).

The definition of the word possess, "to have as one's own property," must be seen through. We normally think ownership, as in materially, legally belonging to the occupying person and none other.

The "One" is all there is.

Property, "the sum total of items owned; possessions collectively," can be looked at as that which belongs to One, that which is near and dear to all.

When we see what is near, when we see through the eyes of what-is-called-God, we see all there is.

Our brothers and sisters in Islam Surah 112, Say: He is Allah, the one and only God the Eternal, the Absolute He begot none, nor was He begotten and there is none comparable to Him.
A commentator goes on to say: The Arabic term "Ahad" used here to refer to the unity of Allah.
The unity of Allah is such that there is no reality and no true and permanent existence except His. Moreover, every other being acquires what ever power it possessed from the effective power of Allah which rules over this world. Nothing else whatsoever plans anything for the world nor decides, for that matter, anything in it.
(Commentary, Surah 112, Purity of Faith - al Ikhlas, http://www.youngmuslims.ca/online_library/tafsir/syed_qutb/Surah_112.htm)

Metaphysicians from earliest Greece say, Being is, non-Being is not.

Our brothers and sisters at their thresholds say Sh'ma, Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.

Jesus said, The Father and I are one.

Siddhartha Gautama said at end of his life, "From now on, brothers and sisters, you are on your own."

What does it mean to be on one's own? What does it mean to be one with the Father? What does it mean to Be? What does it mean that nothing else is? What does it mean to hear One?

Perhaps it means, one and all, this Friday is our birth.

Can we see, can we possess, this?

"Long, look long and you will be blessed," said Sara.

Watch and pray,
first and last,
for – this -- blessing!

(wfh)

Love what is...our very own.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Questioning is a particular spiritual practice.

We engage what is presenting itself when we ask into it. By asking into, or questioning something, we expand the boundaries of our perceived proscribed self.

That self, when absorbed by a question into unknown possibilities of response, ceases to exist as a separate detached self. It never was separate, not for an instant. And yet, the felt experience of the vast majority of us is separate, detached distance from another or others.

Nor are there any others – not on the field of unity. True, on the field of utility, each is distinct, localized, and bearer of specific identification or drivers license number.

Here in a thatched hut
Hidden among mountain peaks,
With barely room for one,
I’m suddenly invaded
By wandering white clouds.

- Koho Kennichi

With gratitude to my mother and father, grandparents, ancestors and predecessors as far back as back can go – I acknowledge that somewhere in the procession of being a human being was born with the name I carry even until today.

Coming-into-being-seen!

Happy the day!

Gratefulness!

Is love itself what is grounding us as oneself?

Parthenogenesis [Greek = virgin birth], far from being an aberration, might be the mystery of love’s substance finding itself through oneself.

Only when we love the mother can we love the father.

Thereby loving oneself.

I face the 8th joyfully!

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

We're uncertain how surprised Jesus was when he experienced himself transfigured before the eyes of Peter, James, and John. It's good to have community or sangha around when something unusual happens to you,

To be aware when your mind is going astray
Is indeed a good thing.
Then you must focus your attention
And gather it in and not let
It run off anymore.
This is the meditation work of
Taking charge and preserving the mind
Of reverence.
If your mind does not know where it is,
And everything is vague and uncertain,
What kind of meditation is this?

- Hu Juren (1434-1484)

It is unusual to have dead people appear, to have your clothes turn dazzling, and to hear the voice of an unseen being announce you as someone to be listened to.

While he was praying, his face changed its appearance, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly two men were there talking with him. They were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in heavenly glory and talked with Jesus about the way in which he would soon fulfill God's purpose by dying in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were sound asleep but they woke up and saw Jesus' glory and the two men who were standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, 'Master, how good it is that we are here! We will make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He did not really know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them with its shadow, and the disciples were afraid as the cloud came over them. A voice said from the cloud, 'This is my Son whom I have chosen--listen to him!" (Luke 9:28-35, from the New Catholic Bible)

What could he have thought? Perhaps he was uncertain, "And everything is vague and uncertain, / What kind of meditation is this? "

Perhaps his mind did not know where it was.

With no mind, one must be right where one is.

In Hiroshima on this date 58 years ago -- a mindless slaughter. On Mount Tabor longer than that ago -- a command to listen.

Today I listen. Not three tents. Not one tent. No tents.

Only listen.

Says who?

Ask! Question without hope of answer.

A voice? Whose?

We're uncertain.

Good.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Lately, there's a curious moving about in mind and with feet.

Many are expressing a desire to change their way of living. Some say they want more simplicity. Some, community. Some want to change their lives by finding out and releasing who they really are. Others are wandering about on vacation, while still others meander vacant and confused.

In addition, an unusual number of people are interiorly packing and ridding the unnecessary for an exodus not yet fully understood.

To nurture this mind,
The most important work
In everyday activities
Is not to be overcome
By things.

- Wu Yubi (1391-1469)

Is the most important work to undergo what is -- here -- in heart and eye?

The Wild Geese

Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer's end. In time's maze
over fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed's marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.

(Poem by Wendell Berry from Collected Poems 1957-1982, North Point Press).

"Here" is a hard place to dwell. So many feel that life is elsewhere. I once did -- perhaps still do -- feel that the lives some of us live are separated from what we imagine to be Life Itself.

Surely, the terror and suffering inflicted daily around the world by war, famine, disease, and accidents have a feel of anomaly and exception about them. If so, what constitutes harmonious, peaceful, non-disastrous life in this world?

Dare we ask? Dare we listen for response?

He was found among the teachers, and we are told he was 'listening to them and asking them questions,' the thing that is most difficult of all in human conversation. What man can really listen to others and ask questions? But there are children who can, for they are not encumbered by prejudices, they go to the heart of the mystery. An intelligent child is a metaphysician: in the presence of the doctors of the Law, he is outside the Law, he is all spirit. That alone would have been enough to explain the 'quick understanding' that amazed them in his answers.
(pp. 41-42, from section The Independence of the Son, in The Blessed Virgin, by Jean Guitton, 1949)

Quick understanding eludes. In its place are bromide, spin, and obfuscation of spurious motivation.

We must ask. We must listen.

What must we do to see eternal life?

This question, here, is ancient and timely.

I am…listening.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Why is silence so vital?

Does language, when overused, fail to hold true to what is conveyed through it?

Meaning to get away from intellectualization
And avoid word traps,
I sailed across the sea to search for the
Transmission beyond the teachings;
Went on pilgrimages till my sandals broke
And found water in the clear stream,
The moon in the sky.

- Kakua (1143 - ?)

Today water falls from sky; moon hides under stone in stream.

Sylvia looked at two of us on Saturday and said: "You say 'I don't know anything,' and John says, 'We know everything.' -- which is true?"

She's right about what was said. I don't know anything. We know everything.

Ego is clueless. Sangha is wise.

Silence is vital. Silence reveals community.

Community is vital silence.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Right now, Buddhists sit at Molyneaux Yoga-barn. Quakers sit at Vesper Hill Children's Chapel, and various Christian denominations listen to scripture readings and remember the life of Jesus.

Sunday morning attentiveness!

Old cedars and ancient cypresses impale rosy mists,
Through huge boulders and hanging vines
A small path winds;
Even monkeys and cranes won’t
Come to a mountain this desolate.
Only the wind-borne cassia pods
That fill my thatched hut.

- Tesshu Tokusai (? – 1366)(dailyzen)

At hermitage, birds trill expanding silence with their sound, Saskia slices mushrooms and beans for soup (nicking thumb in process), and I read the scriptures of daily postings from newspapers and websites about secrets and mysteries of human behavior, incomprehensible political maneuvers, and the common experience we mostly all have to make sense of the odd goings-on in the world.

It occurred to me yesterday that I seldom say to individuals, "I'd love for you to be part of what we love to imagine as community dwelling in simplicity, peace, and service -- sweetness grounded in prayer, contemplation, and meditation."

This insight came when earlier in the day a woman left the shop and the feeling remaining was, "Are we being excluded? She doesn't seem to include us in speaking or thinking about things she knows we too are interested in." It had to do with co-housing exploration. About community. The sense of seclusion sometimes lingers like an echo in a large empty room.

There's the mirror!

Whatever we think about another must be thought about oneself. Whatever is said about another must be said about oneself.

Until it dissolves, my ego sees itself as organizing someone in solitary seclusion. It matters not at all that the majority of time is spent in the ready presence of others coming and going, sitting and seeking, conversing and reflecting. Still, the image is of someone in hermit solitude with: Only the wind-borne cassia pods / That fill my thatched hut.

I would love for many individuals to be part of what we love to imagine as community dwelling in simplicity, peace, and service -- sweetness grounded in prayer, contemplation, and meditation.

There. I've said it.

May I be forgiven my excluding ego.

It is, after all, Sunday.

All exclusions herewith exempt.

Right?

Now?

Yes!