Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, January 24, 2004

A poem, short story, or essay -- the good ones -- put you there. They serve self-remembering.

At end it can be said, "O, I didn't know that about myself. Thanks for showing me."

The fundamental teaching of Buddhism is nothing but the doctrine of One Mind. This Mind is originally perfect and vastly illuminating. It is clear and pure, containing nothing, not even a fine dust. There is neither delusion nor enlightenment, neither birth nor death, neither saints nor sinners. Sentient beings and Buddhas are of the same fundamental nature. There are no two natures to distinguish them. This is why Bodhidharma came from the west to teach the Ch'an method of "direct pointing" to the original true Mind.
- Han-Shan Te-Ch'ing (1586)

Reading this afternoon from False Papers by Andre Aciman, The keeper of sheep, by Fernando Pessoa, Fire in the Earth by David Whyte, Self-Remembering by Robert Earl Burton, some Rumi, and poems self published by an insurance man named Paul M. from the Hartford area. Lloyd said some things about the 4th Way and seeing the connections, beginning to understand, to feel.

As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those parts of the body which we think less honourable we invest with the greater honour, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honour to the inferior part, that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
(from 1 Corinthians 12)

When we look at each other, when we listen to each other, we are ready to say, "O, yes, I didn't know that about my self. Thank you for showing me."

All this so that the members may have the same care for one another.

Tommy comes in at end. Two women afterwards -- buy jams -- remembering her father worked with and helped build the chapel with Trappists from which the jams.

She is moved by this self remembering.

As each is.

Friday, January 23, 2004

An Irish visitor thinks we've not even begun to comprehend the incomprehensibility of God.

"Think of DNA," he says, "the squiggly structure of life itself, as insight into the original fire-burst of God in this existence."

We sit in cold shop, pre-fire, while in next town hundreds gather for memorial service. Our conversation is a different service -- words for others who've died in far away places in the unceasing war humanity has with itself.

God, some say, is saying life differently than our words. God, they say, is the impulse not-to-speak that sets in center of each and every being that exists along our way.

Not-to-speak, but given-to-love.

I will place my laws in their minds
and I will write them upon their hearts;
I will be their God
and they shall be my people.
And they shall not teach their fellow citizens
or their brothers, saying, 'Know the Lord,'
for all shall know me, from least to greatest.
I will forgive their evildoing,
and their sins I will remember no more.

(from Jeremiah 31)

A God who forgives and forgets -- no wonder we can't find that God!

Religions with scriptures about a silent God, a Word made Flesh who remains silent when asked, "What is truth?"

The rest of us talk and talk, wording everything we can, explain, argue, defend, rationalize, attempt to convey feelings, try to present thought in a communicable manner. And like the pop song we shrug and protest, "It's only words, but words are all I have, to take your heart away." (The BeeGees)

Good friends, my teaching
Of the Dharma takes
Meditation and wisdom
As its basis.
Never under any
Circumstances say that
Meditation and wisdom
Are different;
They are one unity,
Not two things.
Meditation itself is the
Substance of wisdom;
Wisdom itself is the
Function of meditation

- Hui-neng

So much of meditation is silent. As is wisdom. The substance and function of wisdom and meditation are not two things.

And when we speak, when we dare open heart, mind, and mouth to say something to another, we risk everything precious. Still, we must open our mouths, we must say something.

The heart, one author said, is a lonely hunter.

I call you my friends, says the Lord,
for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.

(John 15:15)

It seems we have been made known. If we have been made known, all that is needed to be known, how is it we do not seem to know one another?

Is our barrier that we remember sin? Is our boundary that we retain tightly the evil we do one to another?

Let go! Forget about it! Find freedom in the close relatedness each hunts for -- by seeing in, through, and with God's sight.

Let our hearts be broken and taken away. Whether in joy or sorrow, let hearts flash open, as the heart of God is openness. Let pour out everything held there -- until empty -- and sacred. God's way and our way -- are not two ways. God's heart and our heart -- are not two things.

When all is revealed in sacred opening -- all know.

As we move in this meditation, through this wisdom -- in quiet -- we learn how to speak with each other.

Here is where the incomprehensible, forgiving and forgetting, comes to know and love itself -- in, and through, and with.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Daylight.

If extinguished candles are fragrant flowers colored by each one's loving prayer, a wonderland of seeding ground awaits eyes of passersby there.

Fields we saw
Blooming with
So many different flowers,
Frost-withered now
To a single hue.

- Saigyo

Sprinkling overnight snow -- this muted chiaroscuro-- at service to memorial this Thursday.

Even the young gone beyond leave children of their elders, who play in snowy drift of memory when daylight bows to passing night.

Around this Mandala, this sacred spot,
May the flames that transmute Samsara into Nirvana arise.

(from Dedication Puja, Ven. Sangharashita)

Christ-light -- hard working wisdom!

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Hosmer Pond, thick with solid ice, was epiclesis tonight.

When the inward and the outward are illumined, and all is clear, you are one with the light of the sun and moon. When developed to its ultimate state, this is a round luminosity which nothing can deceive, the subtle body of a unified spirit, pervading the whole universe. Then you have the same function as the sun and moon.
- Liu I-Ming

A wide round circle of luminaries, candles in sand inside bags, on snowy ice under new moon white sharp stars. Inside the enormous circle of over 205 luminaries, an inner figure -- a heart of 35 luminaries -- lay within the still and silent cold of Wednesday night.

Car lights turn off. No one on pond. No one there when two people walk out to edge of circle lights. Stand and look. Wonder. Walk without words the edge of circle all around. Turn and bow in direction of house high on hill overlooking pond. Turn and bow to heart inside circle. Wander back off ice to car; drive off.

The word "epiclesis" is Greek for "invocation" in the sense of calling upon or naming a person. The implication of such naming is, of course, that the person called upon become actively involved in or present to the person or thing upon which he [or she] was invoked. It is not surprising, then, that long before the term was ever employed to refer to a specific part of the anaphora, epiclesis referred to the entire prayer. In time, however, epiclesis came to refer to that petition to the Father to send the Holy Spirit which usually follows the anamnesis.
(http://www.saintstephens.on.ca/Essay/KF/The%20Epiclesis.htm)

Anamnesis, (an'-am-nee'-sis) from ana, again; and mimneeskein, to put in mind; recollectio, recordatio, remembrance.
Plato called anamnesis, 'soul-memory.'

The stark emptiness of the ice and candles. The vacancy of the visit. The fullness of the experience of love set for her in glowing memory.

Whoever created the testimony had gone. The invocation, the putting in mind of the young woman whose dwelling has changed from hilltop to beyond our telling, was laid out with exquisite juxtaposition: form was emptiness, emptiness form in beautifully frozen heart-light within circle-wholeness.

Anaphora, Late Latin, from Greek, from anapherein, to bring back: ana-, ana- + pherein, to carry; a-naph-o-ra: The deliberate repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of several successive verses, clauses, or paragraphs.

We invoke light of 'hard working wisdom' -- Amilia Sophia.
We recollect sterling stillness of ice pond memorial.
We carry back silence of pristine star eyes from distances beyond thought.

It is all we can do to pause, walk about, watch attentively, and pray her on her way.

This is -- indeed -- a round luminosity which nothing can deceive, the subtle body of a unified spirit, pervading the whole universe.

Someone, earlier in evening conversation, said, "Love is always counterbalance to whatever weight is borne."

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Do questions and answers travel in pairs?

Suicide bomb in Iraq kills twenty. American ordinance in Afghanistan kills eleven villagers, four children. Car accident at routes 1 and 52 kills high school student. Throughout world men vie for positions of power -- for who will decide what bombs go where, and who will die, and who will profit from death.

Reflecting on another death, a friend writes:
Perhaps we must surrender (and I don't say submit--that seems different somehow, cowering) to what is, to I Am, and say, "I don't know why, Lord--and I don't need to know."

So many tragedies, so many questions! Do answers accompany questions? Or are we orphans and parents of orphans because 'answer' refuses to reveal itself?

No, tragedies do not cancel each other out as they succeed one another. On the contrary, they multiply and accumulate, becoming more unjust with every blow. True, every man [and woman] suffers alone -- yet his suffering is never limited to himself. Suffering begets suffering ever sharper, deeper and more harrowing. In other words, Job's anguish, however similar to Abraham's, however reminiscent of Abraham's, cannot be explained by it. The fact that Job's torments had a precedent does not imply that they have a meaning. In this respect, Jewish tradition differs from the Buddhist concept: to insert individual anguish into cosmic anguish does not resolve, but on the contrary, aggravates the problem. Therein lies its universality. Every individual is both beginning and end; that is why he deserves an answer, not a consolation, unless the consolation itself becomes an answer. (pp. 235-236, Wiesel)

In Warsaw Ghetto, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the emotional desert of contemporary consciousness -- 'answer' hides and seeks shelter from ravages of inane bombardment from occupying forces wanting to take control of what is not theirs.

In Wiesel's portrait of Job he writes: I prefer to think that the Book's true ending was lost. That Job died without having repented, without having humiliated himself; that he succumbed to his grief an uncompromising and whole man. It seems rather odd that the Midrash, so prodigal in legends at the beginning of the drama, becomes so sparing in its epilogue; it probably troubled the rabbinical storytellers. The third act of a play is usually a kind of apotheosis; this one is pale, disappointing. The fighter has turned into a lamb. A sad metamorphosis, inexplicable in literary terms. (p.247)

Wiesel wonders if God's true victory lay in forcing Job to welcome happiness -- to agree to go back to living as before.

Do we? Go on living? Doing the next thing asked of us? Not forgetting, no, but carrying on -- even without understanding, acceptance, or surrender? And doesn't that -- temporary solution -- tire soon enough? And do we not, tired and defeated, rise day after day -- as if in celebration of the unknown presence life constantly asks us to engage?

At the end of his struggle, which Job recognized as being lost in advance -- for how can man hope to defeat God? -- Job discovered a novel method to persevere in his resistance: he pretended to abdicate before he even engaged his battle.

Had he remained firm, had he discussed the divine arguments point by point, one would conclude that he had to concede defeat in the face of his interlocutor's rhetorical superiority. But he said yes to God, immediately. He did not hesitate or procrastinate, nor did he point out the slightest contradiction. Therefore we know that in spite or perhaps because of appearances, Job continued to interrogate God. By repenting sins he did not commit, by justifying a sorrow he did not deserve, he communicates to us that he did not believe in his own confessions; they were nothing but decoys. Job personified man's eternal quest for justice and truth -- he did not choose resignation. This he did not suffer in vain; thanks to him, we know that it is given to man to transform divine injustice into human justice and compassion.

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there lived a legendary man, a just and generous man who, in his solitude and despair, found the courage to stand up to God. And to force Him to look at His creation. And to speak to those men who sometimes succeed, in spite of Him and of themselves, in achieving triumphs over Him, triumphs that are grave and disquieting.

What remains of Job? A fable? A shadow? Not even the shadow of a shadow. An example, perhaps.

(pp. 248-249, chapter titled, "Job: Our Contemporary," in Messengers Of God,, Biblical Portraits and Legends, by Elie Wiesel, c. 1976)

Are we ever, really, completely defeated by the troubling and sorrowful things occurring in our way?

Is there a partnering answer to this question?

Monday, January 19, 2004

Luke said last night -- "Suicide disturbs, sends shocks and ripples to those left behind."

Wondering if it's a winter shower,
I wake in my bed
And hear them:
The leaves that
Couldn't withstand the storm.

- Saigyo

A young person, recent high school graduate from town, died. The word 'suicide' is spoken. A leaf that couldn't withstand the storm.

...India's spiritual traditions are all in agreement that the human being, though unable to intellectually know Reality in its nakedness, can become it in its different dimensions of totality. (Feuerstein, p.191)

There is a longing to change form. There is a longing to step out of the 'motions' we go through. When 'e-motions' are disturbed, it is a longing to move out of the motions that seem so containing. Whether school, church, family, relationship, or cultural box -- there is a longing to be out of the form, out of the motions.

For each of us suffering the fear of form, the disturbance of motions, there is a deeper longing we feel, a deeper way of supporting each other through these difficulties. Learning liberation, what it is, and how it serves -- is one way to begin. .

Liberation is a simple switch of identity. Prior to liberation -- from the unenlightened perspective -- there is the thought of being a human being. Upon liberation, or enlightenment, this thought ceases. The Self knows itself to be the eternal Self, not a specific individual inhabiting a particular point in space and time. (p.193, in Wholeness or Transcendence? - Ancient Lessons For The Emerging Global Civilization, by Georg Feuerstein, c. 1992)

Our hearts break, hearing of the loss and sorrow, the individual and family.

There is a need to re-learn our wholeness.

We pray the leaf finds itself in the heart of serene seed poising itself to enter new ground supported by whole trees in whole forests wandered through by whole-hearted individuals who see, hear, touch, and delight in the new creation unfolding in our midst. The fact is we are whole -- however felt the brokenness and fractured places we call our self -- we are no-other than the whole.

Suicide is painful. It calls the whole into question. Still, we are all there -- the one who has entered death ahead of us, and we, who now grieve and continue in motion down river until our own flowing out and falling into the Whole.

Our faith is in the liberation, given with grace, to each one fallen.

We long to wake, wake in our beds, to the sounds of water tumbling with joy, to the budding leafy presence of one and all.