Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Note: Schola Vacation. The bookshop/bakery is closed today. There will be no conversation.
................................

Informing intention and affective attention.

What occurs within and what takes place in the open is isomorphic. (Isomorphic is defined as being of identical or similar form, shape, or structure.)

When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.(from John 21)

We so seldom see what we are looking at.

The knowledge of the pure clean mind
Is as yellow gold to the world;
The spiritual treasury of wisdom is
All in the body and mind.
The uncreated spiritual treasury
Is neither shallow nor deep.
The buddhas and bodhisattvas
Understand this basic mind;
For those who have the chance
To encounter it, it is not
Past, future, or present.

- Fu Shan-hui (487-659)

To live a monastic life in the open calls for a mind without boundaries. The contemplative sees through boundary. To dwell in an open monastery of the ordinary calls for a willingness to practice no-barriers. The hermit in the open is always alone. Everyone met is the one and only, the source and transmission of what we've come to see through.

As Meetingbrook at dawn arrives at the shore, we stumble over something familiar but do not yet realize what it is. "Go fish," says silence to word. We look around. Tide waits to feel the keel of obedience.

Mono: monastics of no other; monastics of now opening.

Cross fertilization: no other is now opening.

We are coming to realize what is at the harbor in early morning calm: no other is informing intention; affective attention is now opening.

We arrive at the unrecognizable.

We wander through what is...

...to follow.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Note: Schola Vacation. The bookshop/bakery is closed today. There will be no conversation.
................


Sudden tears at the playing of Con Te Partiro (Time to say goodbye). It brings to the place when someone dear was nearing death.

Today, finally, pictures of caskets returning from Iraq.

Some say, "They sleep."

Then, this from Puccini's Turandot:
Nessun dorma!
Nessun dorma!
Tu pure, o Principe,
Nella tua fredda stanza guardi le stelle,
Che tremano d'amore e di speranza!


(No-one shall sleep!
No-one shall sleep!
You too, oh Prince,
In your cold room, watch the stars
Trembling with love and hope!)

There is much we do not yet understand. Is it absence of understanding that flows with tears? Yet, if we did understand -- would sorrow and joy bow to each other with the same deep reverence of tears?

Mountain sounds carry a chill wisdom
An upwelling spring whispers subtle tales
Pine breezes stir the fire beneath my tea
Bamboo shadows soak deep into my robe

I grind my ink: clouds scraping across the crags
Copy out a verse: birds settling on branches
As the world rolls right on by
Its every turn tracing out non-action

- Shih-shu (17th century-early 18th)

Would that reverential bow suffice? Is non-action profound surrender to the passage of life through itself to Itself?

It was Teilhard de Chardin who wrote, "If there were no real propensity to unite, even at a prodigiously rudimentary level, indeed, in the molecule itself ~ it would be physically impossible for love to appear higher up in the 'hominized' or human form."

Teilhard defines this innate urge to unite as an energy force in his famous Law of complexity-consciousness:

Throughout all time there has been an evolutionary tendency for all matter to unite and become increasingly complex in nature.
With each increase in material complexity, there is a related rise in the consciousness of matter and an even greater urge to unite.
Teilhard called this energy force RADIAL ENERGY and it is this radial energy in matter, this deep urge towards union and completion, which eventually manifests itself as LOVE.

As such, we now have close to 7 billion people on the planet and we have reached a critical state of complexity consciousness with an even greater urge to unite. We have reached THE MOMENT OF TRUTH where we either surrender to this innate urge to unite or perish.

History has conclusively shown that altruism and social cooperation are the deciding factors in the survival of the species ~ not war and survival of the fittest. Richard Leakey in THE BEGINNINGS OF MANKIND argued that there is no evidence that cruelty and hostility are innate in man . On the contrary , all the evidence points to non-violence and social cooperation.

(from Feb 2003 Newsletter, "The Moment of Truth," by Allen Roland, Ph.D (http://allenroland.com/archives/newsletter.php?id=24)

The irony of words -- 'unite' and 'untie' are rearrangement of each other. Is there a clue here? Is it when we continue to perceive 'other' that we untie? Will we unite when our sight becomes clear?

In 1949 Pierre Teilhard de Chardin made an extraordinary remark published after his death in The Future of Man. It is what he called 'the moment of affective attraction'. He was discussing the likelihood that one day we would all together move into a closer union, where our human nature would change for the better, and there would result a 'human totalisation'. The line of reasoning he used, which was in the form of one of his reveries, had in a mere footnote to his main arguments this quite extraordinary statement: 'This totalisation would take place within a field of affective attraction sufficiently intense to influence the human mass as a whole and at the same time'.

Television was in its infancy, commercial computers still ten years away, and the kind of expanded means of intelligence he predicted would become real for millions of us through the Internet in forty years time. But his almost outrageous statement was about a moment or event, which would bring us all together and change us. Could that happen? Has it already started to happen? Did a large proportion of the world's population ever experience something at the same time with such power that it changed how we think and live together?

-- the first NASA photographs of the beautiful, fragile blue and white Earth taken from space, our precious planet which we would never again take for granted and which we might now learn to protect

-- nine-year-old Phan Thi Kim Phue running naked, burned, crying in terror, from a South Vietnamese air attack

-- the world watching and praying as Apollo 13 limped home, millions wanting the crew to land safely

-- the vast number of people on the planet who experienced the Millennium

-- the 2001 attack on New York's World Trade Center.

Were these moments of affective attraction? Will there be more and then some day a big one? Will it be within the domain of war or love?

(from "The global consciousness project" by Brian Rothery (http://www.philosphere.com/article25.html?&MMN_position=27:2:24)

Kahlil Gibran said, "Ever has it been that love knows not its depth until the hour of separation."

Will we stay asleep?

"No-one" will sleep.

Will 'yes-one' awake?

Trembling.

Good morning!

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Note: Schola Vacation. The bookshop/bakery is closed today. There will be no conversation.
.................

Earth Day.

Foghorn comes through middle of Rockport Harbor. Is there still an other side?

The Monastery of Christ in the Desert in their martyrology today writes of St. Theodore of Sykeon, April 22:
Today we travel to 7th century Asia Minor to meet another unusual and obscure saint. Theodore was born at Sykeon in Asia Minor in the middle of the 6th century. His unmarried mother, Mary, lived the life of a prostitute and innkeeper. His father is listed as Cosmas, a messenger of the royal court. According to his biography, which was written by a contemporary, Theodore was a very prayerful child. At school he would often give up his lunch so as to spend the time in a local church in prayer.

Despite the objections of his mother, he left home at fourteen and lived the life of an ascetic. His holiness and simplicity came to the attention of Bishop Theodosius of Anastasioupolis, who ordained him a lector, then a deacon. At the age of eighteen, Theodore was ordained to the priesthood, which although not common, was not without precedent. He spent the next several years living the life of an ascetic and drew many disciples by his simplicity, humility and austerity. He founded several monasteries to accommodate the many young men drawn to living a life dedicated to God.

He was abbot of the monastery at Sykeon and reports of his holiness and the many wonders, which occurred through his intercession, brought many to conversion of life. Theodore had a great devotion to St. George, who we will meet tomorrow. He reluctantly accepted the position of bishop of Anastasioupolis after the death of Thodosius and remained there for eleven years.

Theodore was never comfortable with the administrative duties and activities of the office of bishop and was finally able to obtain permission to retire to his monastery. He lived the remainder of his life in prayer and solitude except for a brief visit to Constantinople to bless the emperor and the senate. He died on April 22, 613.

We don't have a great deal of historical data about the life of this saint, but the little we do know shows a man who apparently listened to the call of God from the very beginning. One might wonder how he could have come to know God considering his beginnings, but as Scripture tells us, "...my ways are not your ways..." (Is 55:8). Theodore learned of God and heard His call and simply said "yes" for the rest of his life.


"Yes" to everything is a response almost beyond imagining. "Yes" transforms, like Tonglen practice. (Tonglen: in Tibetan, it means "give and take".) We breathe in the dark and hurtful, and we breathe out light and consolation. Nothing stays fixed and shut-in during the process -- in and out, come and go, receive and donate, accept and pass on.

Tonglen is the Tibetan practice of “sending and receiving.” Tong means “sending out” or “letting go,” len means “receiving” or “accepting.” Tonglen is ordinarily practiced in sitting meditation, using the breath. Put simply, the practitioner breathes in the bad and breathes out the good, taking on the suffering of other sentient beings. At first the practice may appear self-defeating, but as the late Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche said, “The more negativity we take in with a sense of openness and compassion, the more goodness there is to breathe out. So there is nothing to lose.”
(http://www.lighthousewoods.com/buddhist_tonglen.html)

So too God?

What does it mean to be dedicated to God? ('Dedicate': 'de'='from', and 'dicare'='to speak, proclaim'). Hence, to dedicate is to speak from, in this usage, to speak from God. God -- origin and continuation, reality and encounter, foundation and movement, silence and expression, impermanence and surrender.

Breathe in the 'no' of the world; breathe out 'yes.'

Perfumed springs ripple over skeletal outcrops
In the distance a hint of smoke, rising
I hear perpetual stillness in these hills
Sense the rush of swirling waters
White plum blossoms blanket a dozen miles
Save for this single, tiny hut
Tigers, half-tame, loiter near my door
Chattering monkeys guard my gate
A wild mountain-man, white hair streaming
Tops the slate summit on a bamboo staff
Caught unawares, I laugh at the distant bell
Follow the twist and turn of an ancient stream.
Zen hearted, washed free of all desire
Never again will I wander the noisy dust.

- Shih-shu (17th century-early 18th)

Toothless tigers enter the bookshop/bakery at harbor and roar weariness and disconsolate upset at their bodies, their lives, the state of the economy, and the turmoil in the world. Monkey minds jump from one branch of thought to next, from one frond of tasty memory to the next. The noisy dust of desire and regret is thrown against the doors, comes in on shoes to grit the wooden floor and burdened rugs. A sip of tea, a cup of coffee, fire conversing with wood their ashy insights, loll of harmonica, greetings to next arriving face.

It is sometimes difficult to stay through the human. It's not as though there is something else or better that is held out for -- even if someone says, "It will be better on the other side," or, " We must throw off the human, it's bad." Staying through the human is the route to arrive at the human/divine. Whether with body or beyond body, that which we call 'human,' that which we name 'creation' -- these ways of speaking try to hitch a ride with that which is passing through.

Our thinking struggles with the attempt to get in step with what is passing through. Often we overstep. We do this by trying to explain away the reality occurring right before our eyes. We do this by knowing better than another person how to live their life. And we do this by stepping outside emerging reality -- as a casual observer might note a wounded soldier trying to stop blood seeping away his life. Once we step closer to emerging reality we feel the uncertainty and experience the movement of life through realms of unknowing passage beyond our control and out of our awareness.

How love what is passing through?

Spring

Somewhere
a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her
rising
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its glass cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
coming
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her--
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.

(Poem: "Spring," by Mary Oliver, from New and Selected Poems. © Beacon Press.)

Celebrating Earth Day is taking on the reality of earth and earthly existence. It is stepping into the reality of what is passing through. Not wishing for anything else -- but practicing being that which is. Not condemning the beliefs and actions of others we deem despicable -- but embodying what we hold sacred. Not trying to accumulate and hoard the fragile peduncle (that narrow part by which some larger part or the whole body of an organism is attached) -- but attending with our own fragile presence the emergence.

When friends are overemphasized, enemies also come to be overemphasized. When you are born, you do not know anyone and no one knows you. Even thought all of us equally want happiness and do not want suffering, you like the faces of some people and think, "These are my friends," and dislike the faces of others and think, "These are my enemies." You affix identities and nicknames to them and end up practicing the generation of desire for the former and the generation of hatred for the latter. What value is there in this? None. The problem is that so much energy is being expended for a level no deeper than the superficial affairs of this life. The profound loses out to the trivial.
If you have not practiced and on your dying day you are surrounded by sobbing friends and others involved in your affairs, instead of having someone who reminds you of virtuous practice, this will only bring trouble, and you will have brought it on yourself. Where does the fault lie? In not being mindful of impermanence.

(Pp.50-51, in Advice on Dying And living a Better Life, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Trans. & Ed. by Jeffrey Hopkins, c.2002)

Music and chant sound in this small room. Dom Jean Claire and the Monastic Choir of St Peter's Abbey, Solesmes pray the Night Office: Vigils of Christmas. Earth and Incarnation seem sufficient today. They chant: Diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis, propterea benedixit te Deus in aeternum -- "Grace is poured out upon your lips: therefore God has blessed you forever." Upon lips, and ears, and eyes -- and we are blessed with silence, with sound, and with sight.

For rest of life, a gift of God.

Her perfect love.

Welcome, yes, to earth!


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Note: Schola Vacation. The bookshop/bakery is closed today. There will be no conversation.
..................

Breakfast is a sacred meal.

Jesus said to them,
“Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who
are you?” because they realized it was the Lord.
(from John 21)

What if we began again? Eight years later, what if we began our original intuition of a community bakery/cafe/bookstore? What if we ran the place differently?

What if all food and baked goods was by donation? And non-new books? And sails?

Comedy is "the only thing worth writing in this despairing age, provided the comedy is truly on the side of the lonely, the neglected and the unsuccessful, and plays its part in the war against established rules."(John Mortimer)

If the Zen Contemplative life is absurd, why not make light of it?

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe." (John Muir)

What if everything stayed as it is -- completely different, and open to spirit?

Conversations -- with food -- by workers, artists, writers, practitioners of every spiritual persuasion, the elderly, the teenager, the business owner, the retired, and the poetically or politically active.

Everything by donation.

Plus ca change, plus cela meme chose!
The more a thing changes, the more it becomes itself!

Because -- everything is gift.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Living the Zen life is absurd. (That's what was said at Tuesday Evening Conversation)

Study the Way and never grow old
Distrust emotions; truth will emerge
Sweep away your worries
Set even your body aside

Autumn drives off the yellow leaves
Yet spring renews every green bud
Quietly contemplate the pattern of things
Nothing here to make us sad

- Shih-shu (17th century-early 18th)

'Absurd' is a good word. ('ab' from L. = 'from, away, off'; 'surd' from L. 'surdus' = 'deaf, silent, stupid').
Webster's 7th says of 'absurd' -- ridiculously unreasonable, unsound, or incongruous.
The words we say about our lives, like words intending to teach, are often not much help.

I feel sorry that I cannot help you very much. But the way to study true Zen is not verbal. Just open yourself and give up everything. Whatever happens, whether you think it is good or bad, study closely and see what you find out. This is the fundamental attitude. Sometimes you will do things without much reason, like a child who draws pictures whether they are good or bad. If that is difficult for you, you are not actually ready to practice zazen.

This is what it means to surrender, even though you have nothing to surrender. Without losing yourself by sticking to a particular rule or understanding, keep finding yourself, moment after moment. This is the only thing for you to do.

(pp. 75-76, "Finding Out for Yourself," in not always so, practicing the true spirit of Zen, by Shunryu Suzuki)

The four of us laughed and marveled at how absurd we are. There is no reason things are as they are. Just as there is no explanation that satisfies telling after the fact. Words that intend to justify or say "I knew that" fall flat when said seriously and soar with laughter when playfully posed.

To be listened to. To listen.

To be heard. To hear.

No matter...what.

Is what is served.

Open and give up.

Going on.


Monday, April 19, 2004

Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage Update
April 2004


Theme: Nonsiding, Undeciding, and Nothing Special – A Buddhist, Christian, and Ordinary Reflection of This Season


My heart hurts at the sides and decisions of current war in Iraq. Even the nothing-special that is Meetingbrook considers what to do.

I
April is not a cruel month. Cruelty is the work of men and women intent on forcing their beliefs on others. Cruelty accompanies betrayal. Betrayal is holding on to broken beliefs. Broken beliefs are sharp slicing shards that bloody the hand of the person holding tight to them. This hand usually strikes out at those considered unbelievers. In striking these faces both hand and face sear with pain and blood. Each suffers. All suffer because broken belief is held tight.

There is nothing wrong with having beliefs. Beliefs provide guideposts to us on our way. What we hold as true helps us on our setting out and setting forth. Beliefs sometimes shore up faith. Faith is seeing without certainty. Faith trusts what it sees to be what it is. Belief is the wrapping we place on faith. We feel often that belief strengthens faith. This is a feeling based on a belief in what faith sees without certainty.

Seeing requires itself and what is seen.

Seeing is what faith embodies. Embodying what is seen is a direct connection not mediated by anything outside of the intimate interpenetrating encounter. When seeing sees what is seen, there is no separating the reality-come-to-light.

Nothing can be said. Nothing is what is said when seeing embodies what is seen. What is seen and what is said is nothing. Between what is seen and what is said is nothing. This realization of nothing is an experience of emptiness.

In emptiness each is what it is. Each is whole. Nothing comes between one thing and another thing, one person and another person, or one thought and another thought. This nothing, this empty-no-space, allows immediate response -- whether with word or activity -- to take place on its own. This response is responsive to the one evoking, what is being said or what is being done, and the one being evoked by the word or the act.

Broken beliefs are to be discarded. They are to be let go and not used against others. What is important always is right here. What is right here is what is right here. This right here is also called the true. What is truth? Truth is right here and (as a Zen Master once said) "just like this." What is this? This is what is taking place in and with our presence. What is presence? Presence is this moment speaking or acting without interference by thought or doubt.

What is thought? Thought is the attempt to hold what is taking place. What is doubt? Doubt is calling into question what is taking place. Both thought and doubt are useful enterprises. However, when they interfere with direct engagement with what is taking place this moment, presence suffers. Or, we suffer the absence of presence. Absence of presence is the distance inserted between our words/actions and what is taking place right before us.
Absence of presence is similar to grabbing one view as it attempts to pass us and holding it fast. We are jerked from the flow of seeing what is taking place, and riveted to a particular view – like snapshots from vacation – sidelining us a distance from where we are.

Very often we fade our lives in that distance. We disappear in that absence.

II
When we become attached to views we stagger-stop on our journey through daily life and life as a whole.

It is curious to consider life fading and disappearing -- curious to live distantly and absently. To do so might be part and parcel of the ability we have to decide, the ability to make a decision. Deciding is a useful enterprise. Surely it is. And yet, what of undeciding? What value is there in undeciding? In our culture undeciding is confused with indecision, and therefore considered a flaw or weakness – we say, ‘They cannot choose between two things,’ or ‘They are plagued by indecision, they are indecisive.’

To be undeciding is not the same as indecisive. Undeciding suggests there is no decision to be made; indecisive suggests an unwillingness or inability to choose between two things or paths.

In this Easter season there is an aspect of resurrection we might explore. Might we understand incarnation in light of resurrection, and resurrection in light of incarnation? Was Jesus' resurrection his very incarnation? How come to see whether one thing is isomorphic (i.e. of one form) with or separate from another? What if there was no "decision" to be made? (The word ‘decision,’ from ‘de’ – ‘caedere’ = to cut off, means cutting away the other.)

Is the uniqueness of the Christian metaphor the undeciding of the divine/human? Was Jesus' incarnation/resurrection the undeciding of anything other?

Buddhists say that no choice, choicelessness, is strong practice leading to clear seeing of each as-it-is.

Bankai, a 17th century Japanese Zen master said, “Don’t side with yourself.”

III
(A Sidestep)
Meetingbrook is at its annual April nexus of decision. The question is whether we can afford to keep the doors open of the bookshop/bakery, or to fold merely into hermitage without harbor presence in Camden.

The issue is simple: the shop on the harbor is a place of hospitality, quiet respite, and refuge, sharing of views, laughter, and conversation. The shop is lovely, but we can no longer fund it on our own with the work we do.

There are many friends of Meetingbrook. We have one person (of the many people who consider Meetingbrook a touchstone and a safe place to reveal and converse varied points of view), who thinks we should not be open. She feels – not inaccurately – (especially for Saskia the first 4 months of the year in her other work to pay rent) that the strain to finance the shop is too high. This person, with wise connection to 12 step views, no longer comes to Meetingbrook, not wanting to enable its continuance. We are delighted to have her as friend-in-absence. The rest of those who come in and out feel it would be very unfortunate if we closed.

Expenses and income for Meetingbrook Bookshop and Bakery result from goods for sale. This venture is mostly a wash, i.e., no real profit from retail sales. We are distinctively small. In Camden there are now two other full-service general bookstores and two other used/antiquarian bookstores as well as a store that sells books alongside their games and clothing. Meetingbrook’s specialty niche of books is related to monastic, interreligious, interfaith, ecumenical spirituality as well as ecology, poetry, prayer and religious thought – we are less a retail force than a place of hospitality and reflection. In this regard we utilize the room above the shop as a retreat room or place of respite stay for short periods of time by those in need, (as one might a sanctuary). There is no set charge for the use of this room even though this is one of the sweetest rooms on the harbor; rather use of it is by donation only. The room is available for general use daily when not occupied. People have likened Meetingbrook to a Poustinia in the marketplace.

An additional service Saskia provides is taking anyone who asks, especially those with no prior experience, on short sails during the summer months on her 26’ O’Day that she shares with her nephews. These sails are also no charge and serve either as an afternoon’s outing or an overnight retreat. She takes a wide spectrum -- from paraplegic and elderly or those with illness, to those who would never sail except for her gentle captaining. Her’s is an everyday gift of the sea.

In addition to the shop, Saskia works with self-insured worker’s compensation audits in the first quarter of the year. I teach part-time as adjunct, now two courses, in the fall for the University of Maine System at Thomaston. Income from these efforts is folded into the running of bookshop/bakery. Some who frequent Meetingbrook make financial donations. In the past three years this has been between thirteen hundred and eighteen hundred dollars each year. To date, we have not requested nor actively sought any financial help, choosing instead to make a go of it by ourselves, with the quiet generosity of those wishing to donate to the tea-pot to help defray rent. We have neither reserves nor independent means to draw from to keep the shop functioning.

If we were more clever retail business owners we might be on better footing. But from our opening day 8 years ago we have been intent to be, first and foremost, a place of contemplation, conversation, and correspondence. Much of our time is given to matters of individual or communal importance, interpersonal or personal interest related to any individual coming through the doors. Attention to each is vital, and the intention to practice deep listening and loving speech, are hallmarks of both ordinary and formal conversation and interaction. It is our practice to be present. Sometimes it is wearing. With financial strain it is more wearing.

Still, we do not bring in sufficient income to relieve the economic strain. Something must change.

Some suggest strategies to look for monies to continue us as a community resource.

There are suggestions made to us:

1. We move to a subscription membership. Ask those who value Meetingbrook’s presence at the harbor to contribute a yearly sum to defray the cost of rent, utilities, and fees – (e.g. $19,000 per annum divided by the number of subscribers).
2. Seek grants and do fundraising. Meetingbrook is a community resource, open six days a week for 8 years now, holding public conversations 6 hours a week on spirituality, practice, thought, everyday concerns, and personal journeys through each. Include retreat opportunities (room above shop, 3rd Saturday at hermitage), semi-weekly conversations in prison, and daily presence for group or individual conversations about anything – and we have a unique presence and service for local and visiting population.
3. Watch for and invite, in joyful hope, a patron. If someone of means were to grace Meetingbrook with gift – once or continuously – we would be grateful, stay open where we are, and deepen Meetingbrook as a place of conversation, collation, and recollection for as long as we are capable.

For eight years we have said, “All events at Meetingbrook are free, open, and informal.”

Might we undecide our presence?

Contact us with your way of good will. April’s end is the nexus to end or continue our lease.

IV
(Returning)
Is there a difference between thoughtless action and action without thought? Thoughtless action, also called acting on impulse or from ideology, is acting in reaction to what is taking place. This often appears as blind striking out, or anger-slap. Action without thought, also called right-action or engaged-activity, is acting in harmonious concert with what is taking place. This often appears as seamless embrace, or effortless kindness and assistance.

When we act from intention or motivation that is separate from the reality of what is taking place right before us -- or in some other geographical region of the world -- we fall into a doubtful reality and an absence of kindness. In that pit we've fallen into is unreality and cruelty. The longer we stay there, the more unkind and cruel we become.

My heart hurts. The pain is from unkindness and cruelty. And I cry there.

I cry because I am unkind and cruel there. I cry because unkindness and cruelty reach me from anyplace they are committed by any person, any nation, or any betrayal.

What can I do? At first it feels like nothing. Then I go beyond. I feel the hurt and accept the pain for what it is. I cannot ignore it or pretend it isn't there. Iraq pains me. The actions of the American government are hurting. The intentions and ideology slapped on others by this dubious war are hurting. The broken beliefs and self-siding heresy preached by doubtfully ordained executive pretenders are frightening weapons -- they bloody the hands faces limbs and hearts of many men women and children throughout the world every day.

What is heresy? Heresy means other opinion. What is opinion? Opinion is what we hold onto in the absence of truth. Opinions are substitutes or blankets for truth – especially when truth does not serve well our opinions and needs to be hidden. Opinions in service to falsity are lies in costume. How do we arrive at truth? A Zen Master once said it was simple -- to arrive at the truth just drop all your opinions.

If opinions are dropped -- what is there then? Yes – this is a koan -- 'what is’ is there then -- or, here now. ‘What is’ – by any other name – is what is. Variously called God, Truth, Reality, the Absolute, the Ground of Being, Source, Way, the One, or the Good – ‘what is’ is what is no matter what it is called. Positing this ‘what is’ in the forms of these names is explanation human consciousness arrives at through history and evolution of thought, experience, and intuition,

V
My heart continues to hurt. My mind runs frightened. What to do? Run away? Become cynical? Despair? Sit still? Pray silently? Shout dementia down? Or, speak honestly the promptings of my heart -- breathe and open to what is right here?

The season of departures engages and enters this season of arrivals.

Many arrivals make us live: the tree becoming
Green, a bird tipping the topmost bough,
A seed pushing itself beyond itself,
The mole making its way through darkest ground,
The worm, intrepid scholar of the soil--
Do these analogies perplex? A sky with clouds,
The motion of the moon, and waves at play,
A sea-wind pausing in a summer tree.

What does what it should do needs nothing more.
The body moves, though slowly, toward desire.
We come to something without knowing why.

(--Poem, "The Manifestation" by Theodore Roethke)

Letting go attachments, not siding with my ‘self,’ undeciding, embracing nothing-special and allowing what is whole to remain what it is – this is the nexus.

This is the binding connection we each have with one another – namely --what is light and what is true.

Live in the nowhere that you came from,
Even though you have an address here.

(--Rumi)

I finish this Update on April 19. It has been unwriting itself for three weeks. This morning, in his ever-welcome “The Writer’s Almanac” Garrison Keillor notes:
“… On this day, April 19, 1943, the first day of Passover, hundreds of German soldiers entered the ghetto in rows of tanks, planning to destroy the ghetto in three days. But resistance fighters fought back with the guns and grenades they had been storing. Fighting went on for days; when they ran out of grenades and bullets the Jews fought with kitchen knives, chair legs—whatever they could get their hands on. They hid in their trenches and tunnels and in the sewers. They held out for almost a month, but on May 16 the revolt ended. Nazis burned down buildings, shot many of the remaining Jews, and sent the rest of them to concentration camps.
On the forty-fifth anniversary of the uprising, a survivor named Irena Klepfisz said, "What we grieve for is not the loss of a grand vision, but rather the loss of common things, events and gestures. . . . Ordinariness is the most precious thing we struggle for, what the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto fought for. Not noble causes or abstract theories. But the right to go on living with a sense of purpose and a sense of self-worth -- an ordinary life."


What is there?

What is here?

Even if we disappear -- it is a joy to serve each one, to serve what is here.

In ordinariness.

Gratefully,
Saskia & Bill, Sando, Cesco, Mu-ge, and all who grace Meetingbrook
19 April 2004,
Patriots Day in New England, Running of Boston Marathon, 4th Game of 1st Boston Red Sox/New York Yankees 2004 meetings, Second Monday after Easter, and our ordinary Monday off.