Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Becoming oneself, one forgets self.

57.
A realm is governed by ordinary acts,
A battle is governed by extraordinary acts;
The world is governed by no acts at all.
And how do I know/
Act after act prohibits
Everything but poverty,
Weapon after weapon conquers
Everything but chaos,
Business after business provides
A craze of waste,
Law after law breeds
A multitude of thieves.
Therefore a sensible man says:
If I keep from meddling with people, they take care of themselves,
If I keep from commanding people, they behave themselves,
If I keep from preaching at people, they improve themselves,
If I keep from imposing on people, they become themselves.

(from The Way of Life according to LaoTzu, Translated by Witter Bynner)

If you were asked to prove you were human, what would you do? If asked to present your credentials as a member of a particular denomination, church, religion, or belief system – how would you display your integrity with that reality, without trying to convince someone you are indeed that reality? If someone stood in front of you asking you if you actually exist, if you were there as who you are, what might you possibly respond that would be of any worth to the questioner and the questioned?

It is most urgent that you seek real, true perception,
So you can be free in the world
And not confused by ordinary practitioners.
It is best to have no obsessions.
Just don’t be contrived.
Simply be normal.
You impulsively seek elsewhere,
Looking to others for your own hands and feet.
This is already mistaken.

- Linji (d. 867)

Recently someone wondered if my credentials to be who I am were good enough.

I wrote something in response that becomes for me a meditation.
In the Zen tradition there's a tricky phrase that goes, "Don't make two;
don't make one." The instant we think something is outside something else,
we make two. And when we try to fit it back in, we make one. So, the saying
"Don't make two; don't make one" suggests the suffering we create and
contribute to when, in our minds, we fail to grasp the original reality.

What is the original reality? And why is it that nothing can separate us
from it?

In our Christian tradition, the original reality is that nothing exists
apart from God, who/which, we say, is Love Itself. We say: God created the
world, and everything that is exists because of creation. Further, as
Catholic Christians, we hold the idea of the Trinity. The Trinity suggests
that the creator, creation itself, and the life-energy inspiring and
sustaining everything (what we call the Father, the Son, and the Holy
Spirit) are distinct, involved, and inseparable from one-another.

In other words: God is love. We are in God. God is in us. And the Spirit of
Truth suffuses us, even if we think otherwise.

Many of us as Catholics look at the mystery of creation, incarnation, and
resurrection with a pious devotion that veils a cautious and skeptical mind.
The mystery involving Jesus’ saying, “I and the Father are one,” and then,
holding bread and wine, saying, “Take and eat, this is my body, this is my
blood,” is often far, far beyond our imagination and/or comprehension. The
Holy Spirit is, for many Catholics, something to do with charismatic and
evangelical expressions of prayer, or the episcopate’s kindly slap at
Confirmation, and less to do with the Spirit of Truth undergirding the very
ground of being.

Francis, I suspect, grasped the unity without trying to make it one. It is
my suspicion Francis saw everything and everyone in its original reality,
that is, in the light of God. Thus, when the crucifix at San Damiano was
experienced as saying, “Repair my church,” Francis grasped without thinking
the full spectrum of the experience.

Stone by stone, person by person, Christian by Muslim, Francis saw the light
of God illuminating each being. This “church,” this expression of love --
unconditional and nonjudgmental – needed again to be prepared (L.‘re-parare').
As John the Baptist, and Isaiah before him, cried out to us, “Prepare
the way of the Lord, Prepare the way for the Lord!”

Francis was not distracted by names, or categories, stipulations, or
anything suggesting that God was not in the particular being encountered in
his or our daily life. Open-minded Buddhists bow with reverence to Francis’
love, respect, and reverence for all beings, sentient or not. Perhaps this
is how we are to care for this world.

Everybody likes the stories of the wolf, the leper, and brother sun sister
moon. And yet, the ground of being that is the inspiration and sustenance of
those stories, the insight and stewardship that interpenetrate daily
responsive behavior following from dwelling in, and indwelling of, the
reality of God – -- is a story hard to hear, and harder yet to embody.

Thanks be that Jesus embodied so wonderfully the story. Thanks be that
Francis mirrored that embodiment so remarkably. As for the rest of us, it is
a joy that we have the story repeated so often to us. Again. And again.
Perhaps, soon, we’ll hear it, and hear it whole, and thereby embody it with
graceful and gracious humility. In a process of sacred realization, we’ll be
Franciscan, we’ll be Christian, and we’ll be “en famille Dieu.”

(from letter to D.L. from Camden, 28aug03)

It is the joy of questions to find their own answers.

Friday, August 29, 2003

"It's prison."

That's how he summed it up this morning. He lives there. I just visit for conversation.

The worthies of old all had
means of emancipating people.
What I teach people just requires
you not to take on the confusion of others.
If you need to act, then act,
without any further hesitation or doubt.

- Lin Chi (d 867?)

It was one of those situations where there were punches, then a hitting with blunt object, blood, teeth knocked out, the impulse to destroy the other, then -- by mutual convenience -- a tacit understanding to let it be, no charges or counter-charges. "Least said, soonest mended."

Prison.

We read Eckhart Tolle's first chapter in Stillness Speaks. It begins:

When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world.

Your innermost sense of self, of who you are, is inseparable from stillness. This is the I Am that is deeper than name and form.


Justin and Paco, Sonny and Joe, Jeremy and myself shared stillness in prison this morning.

Even with no escape, freedom is speaking with stillness.

At Camden Harbor tonight, Windjammer Weekend fireworks begin at 9pm.

Brad's here, Miles too, Sam, Sheila, Dori, Theresa, and the Victory Chimes three-master gather dockside with larger numbers milling near -- this array of celebration.

Pizza arrives.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Monica yesterday. Augustine today.

Last night Trungpa's comments about the "sore spot," the open vulnerability that allows in the germ of compassion.

Over the ages you have followed objects,
Never once turning back to look within.
Time slips away;
Months and years are wasted.

- Kuei-Shan (771-854)

Alaya is the abode of home, before "I" and "other" became separated in our minds.

My homeless spirit is months and years wandering town to town. Like avowed Indian in the words of The Sanyasin's First Day (a children's book by Ned Shank, 1999):
"It was the sanyasin's first day. He sat in the shade of a tree beside the busy road with his walking-stick, dressed in his brand new orange cloth. He had given away everything he owned to lead the holy life of a sanyasin, to do nothing but pray, and walk from town to town, begging for just enough rice to fill his bowl."

My courage is not so specific. I often ignore my heart. Thus, as Augustine said, it is restless. And remains restless until it rests in what is supreme, utmost, clear light reality, God.

Jesus said, “Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Gospel Matthew 24:42 - 51)

Thieves have taken from me everything I thought important -- dreams, hopes, plans, and understanding.

1, Thus says the LORD: The heavens are my throne, the earth is my footstool. What kind of house can you build for me; what is to be my resting place?
2, My hand made all these things when all of them came to be, says the LORD. This is the one whom I approve: the lowly and afflicted man who trembles at my word.
(Isaiah, Chapter 66)

Mostly I shudder. Or is it shrug? What kind of house is this empty place where what I thought I was moves out and the space widens with unknowing?

The ground before I and other?

Holy ground?

Creation itself...


Wednesday, August 27, 2003

May all beings come to dwell in their true home!

Alaya is a Sanskrit word meaning "abode," or "basis," or "home," or "ground."

Every day priests minutely examine the Dharma
And endlessly chant complicated sutras.
Before doing that, though, they should learn
How to read the love letters
Sent by the wind and rain,
The snow and moon.

- Ikkyu (1394-1491)

'Himalaya,' means abode of snow.

The love letters sent to us, the love letters we sent to others, these are cricket song, breeze through leaves, and sun on windowsill.

We are at home when nothing comes between us and what is the ground of our being.

Where is home to you and me?

What is home…

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

The bookshop/bakery is closed today.

Though we’ve been dwelling together,
I don’t know his name:
Going along accepting the flow,
Just being thus,
Even the eminent sages since antiquity
Don’t know him.
How could the hasty ordinary type
Presume to understand?

- Shitou

He is solitude; she is silence. Today they separately obey the command of sanctuary.

If there is to be a sane world full of sane people, it must begin with cricket sound in August's exhalation.

When friends these days wonder whether we are disappearing, I can only listen to hear how far I am from cricket sound.

Today I am far away. Today I am at the outer echo of morning chant crickets sing in praise of outer edges.

Far off. Going adrift. Unable to recognize the faces and voices of the country once my home.

Ordinary.

Aslant.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Who can hear such silence?

The wholeness of life has, from of old,
Been made manifest in its parts;
Clarity has been made manifest in heaven,
Firmness in earth,
Purity in the spirit,
If rim and spoke and hub were not,
Where would be the chariot?
Who will prefer the jingle of jade pendants
If they once have heard the stone
Growing in a cliff?

- Lao Tzu

When desperate, eye sees and ear hears.

When distracted, jingle diverts attention.

I have forgotten so much for so long.

Breath prays looking without hope.

Crickets!

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Some days, just looking at trees, or roots along hilly path, is all you can do.

I have come to profoundly dislike the path America's leaders walk.

It is time for change.

The heart and the cross in chapel/zendo are silent signs of this contemplative time.

Some days a heart broken by lies and deception, along with a cross on which hangs suffering worldwide community -- is a sight too hard to look at.

Some friends persist in senseless arrogance grousing slogans about freedom and patriotism.

Some friends bleed out and expire hope that some dark conspiracy has not numbed a naive country, a conspiracy of proportions unimagined seeping from what once was known as the People's House.

As for me, today, I can only look at trees. I look at roots along hilly path.

I disbelieve.