Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, June 05, 2004

What is passing?

Sando has taken to throwing-up. There's a sense of "uh-oh." There are tears on Saskia's face. Everywhere, what is passing is life from form to form, emptiness to emptiness.

It is our lot in life to pass through life's forms and emptiness.

Truth’s naked radiance,
Cut off from the sense and the world,
Shines by itself.
No words for it.

- Pai-chang (720-814)

In trees this cool morning -- birdsong. Blue jay lights on branch. Chickadee and finch at feeder. Chatter of squirrel complaining of something in its way this morning.

I loved you for your beauty
but that doesn't make a fool of me:
you were in it for your beauty too
and I loved you for your body
there's a voice that sounds like God to me
declaring, declaring, declaring that your body's really you
And I loved you when our love was blessed
and I love you now there's nothing left
but sorrow and a sense of overtime
and I missed you since the place got wrecked
And I just don't care what happens next
looks like freedom but it feels like death
it's something in between, I guess

it's CLOSING TIME
(--from CLOSING TIME Lyrics, Artist(Band):Leonard Cohen)

What is between freedom and death?

Is the reason so few surrender into the life of God that there is a requirement asked which we find confusing? The requirement is that we let go of all we know, fall from every image of self-identity, and pass through the unending-between that reduces each either/or to God's compassionate yet whimsical face flashing million-fold likenesses all smiling with loving, tender, and empathic readiness for our consternating and tentative approach.

This unending-between, where we turn and turn looking into and through mirror images of one and all, is at first dizzying, and then mystifying, finally mere seeing what is there.

Jesus said to his disciples: "I have much more to tell you, but you cannot
bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to
all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.

(from John 16:12-13)

What the Spirit hears is echoing and resounding in the morning prayerful drone and whisper of the innumerable everything permeating each distinct form making its way through existence.

Sit or stand in the choir of green leaf, rolling tire, flying bird, crawling insect, barking dog, barn-side plank, piles of plates with crumbs and spoons, worried thoughts, appreciative light, and tumbling water down shade-sweet brook.

We are what we are where we are.

Where all this is fine for now.

For, what is this? And, what is now? Just, we are here.

Sando still bounds sfter Saskia and groans when changing position on floor. Such a sweet companion!

Who cares what happens next?

Friday, June 04, 2004

Something empties out.

It feels like whatever is not yet emptiness is falling away.

In an article about hermits, the following:
"One of our newsletter contributors described hermits as 'sacristans of emptiness,' " Karen Fredette said. "Hermits stay in the present moment, which is eternal because it is neither past nor future, dwelling in the temple of God's presence, letting everything flow from and back into the source. Eremites strip life to its essentials and live deliberately. They have much to say to an overactive and over-social world."
(Sacristans of emptiness - Religious Life, National Catholic Reporter, Feb 27, 2004 by Rich Heffern)

Rosina, Lloyd, Richard, Tommy, Pia, Michael, Saskia, Mike, Daniel, and I read from The Heart of Islam at Friday Evening Conversation. We spoke about the tension between secularism and religion in America and Middle East. About "God willing" and free will. It was, and is, a captivating conversation.

Efface both mind and objects.

This means that when we are practicing, we initially make the external sense-objects void and calm and then relax the internal--the mind. Since internal and external are both calmed, where can delusion arise? As Kuan-ch'I said, "In the ten directions there are no walls; at the four sides there are no gates. All is innocent, pure and undefiled."

- Chinul (1205)

Afterwards, John and Tommy laughed on planked deck overlooking harbor sunset. Boats held by mooring and dock lines obeyed securing tethers.

To this discourse, we conclude, being appears as the pure fullness of the permanent, gathered within it, untouched by unrest and change. Even today it is customary in describing the beginning of Western philosophy to oppose the doctrine of Heraclitus to this doctrine of Parmenides. A much-quoted saying is attributed to Heraclitus: panta rhei, everything is in flux. Accordingly there is no being. Everything "is" becoming.
(p.82, in An Introduction to Metaphysics, by Martin Heidegger)

These days, everything is in flux. Lines are slack and uncleted. Within and around it feels like something set adrift in an unfamiliar tide. At any second coming aground threatens. Or perhaps promises.

God willing.

We're becoming.

Unsettled.

Here.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

I am confused and not hearing particularly well.

I imagined I heard the sound of a different world.

If at ground is the mother, say earth, that nurtures us in life, wouldn't we honor and care for her?

If all around us is the father, say heaven, that inspires us through life, wouldn't we see and be grateful for him?

If within and without us is the holy breath-sound, say spirit/word, that resonates each of us with one another, wouldn't we listen to it?

What makes an authentic monk? I think clarity of mind and sight, simplicity of life and gratitude in the heart. In short, what Brother David calls a "listening heart."
It takes self-knowledge and freedom from projection to render the heart a listening one. The monk listens.

(p.xi from Introduction by Matthew Fox to A Listening Heart, The Spirituality of Sacred Sensuousness, book by Brother David Steindl-Rast, c. 1983, 1999)

I have always longed to be what I am where I am. I've often forgotten. I continue to forget. At times I sit and stare at nothing in particular, lost in stillness, often despairing the impossible complexity of human social character and financial exchange economics.

In short, poverty, and avowed reliance on gift -- the courage to submit to the unsuspecting grace and kindness of unidentified passersby -- is an odd way to live in the world today.

The daily discipline of listening and responding to meaning is called obedience. This concept of obedience is far more comprehensive than the narrow notion of obedience as doing-what-you-are-told-to-do. Obedience in the full sense is the process of attuning the heart to the simple call contained in the complexity of a given situation. The only alternative is absurdity. Ab-surdus literally means absolutely deaf. If I call a situation absurd I admit that I am deaf to its meaning. I admit implicitly that I must become ab-audiens -- thoroughly listening, obedient. I must give my ear, give myself, so fully to the word that reaches me that it will send me. Being sent by the word, I will be obedient to my mission. Thus by doing the truth lovingly, not by analyzing it, I will begin to understand.
(Pp 2-3, Steindl-Rast)

It seems vast majorities of the world live by recompense and earned reward. Whole systems of world finance and religion operate under that rubric. Pay the price, earn rewards, be ransomed by savior, yield dividends on investment, and bank on what you deserve.

Lesser minorities look to grace, graciousness, and grateful acceptance of gift. Those that do this are not merely a lower-class tier of deprived unfortunates. Some are willing participants in the promise that all are loved, all are equal, and all are in one another's care.

What is my confusion?

Isn't earth, heaven, and spirit/word -- (sacred compassion, stillness itself, and true silence/creative sound) -- my true home?

Lao-tzu said, "The greatest revelation is stillness."

Dare I dwell there?

Obediently.

Within each.

Hermitage.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

What if we felt the actual world, accepting what we felt?

It is a troubling consideration:
1. We are not who we think we are; and
2. Wherever we go, there we are.

All people fundamentally
Possess the wisdom of
Bodhi-prajna.
If they cannot be
Awakened to it,
It is because their minds
Are under delusion.
You should know that
The Buddha nature of the
Ignorant and of the
Enlightened are the same,
The only difference being
That the former are deluded whereas
The latter are awakened to it.

- Altar Sutra

Mu-ge, in drizzly rain outside kitchen window, hunkered and leapt into tall grass under bird feeder. He aimed for chipmunk stepping off bulkhead into grass under dining room window. Mu-ge missed. Back in house he knocks strawberry basket off kitchen table to floor -- a consolation conquest.

Each one of us is where we are. More than a statement about location, saying we are where we are is a statement about our essence and existence.
Q: What are we?
A: We are where we are!

What's troubling about this consideration is that, if we are where we are, there is no separation between who we are and where we are. Nor is there any "othering" between who we are and who we are with. The old saying goes: "Show me your friends and I'll show you who you are."

Christians have had difficulty comprehending the theological statement that God is omnipresent. At worst and narrowly interpreted it suggests that God is on their side as long as they are in the right for a noble cause. At best it means God is everywhere and wherever they go they will meet God because God will show up, even if only in prayer, thought, or intention.

We seem to be insistent on separation. We might claim a longing for communion and union with God, but it is a longing better left just that, and not realized. We're quite comfortable just knowing of the longing and the possibility. Think the thought, and let it be dual.

If Mu-ge catches the chipmunk he will kill it. If we catch God -- who will die?

The Buddhists are more direct. The say, "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him."
Why is that?
Because the Buddha you meet is not the true Buddha?
Then, who is true Buddha?
Who's asking?
(That's what they'd say. Leaving you to ponder.)

We ponder what the world would be like without us, or without God. When suicide is pondered it is the same question. When war is pondered it is the same question.

In our ignorance we commit suicide or go to war (usually the same thing) in order to relieve or be relieved of something extraneous, some burden or displeasure we feel must go, must be eliminated. The dualistic mind assisted by fierce but clouded emotion sees resolution of problems by cutting off the problem and disposing of it, and being done.

The sorrow of suicide and war is profound -- most often too profound for conscious, rational thought. That's what the profound is. It is beyond our capacity to consider. The sorrow plunges to its profound origin and lays bare and open there.

At origin, in that place ever-present, is where realization beyond sense or thought resides. Dogen said, "dropping off mind and body."

We ask, "What is holding us as we tumble through profound bottomless sorrow?"

Who would go to that place of their own volition? Some do. I think some go there to open the reality to less fearful dwelling. These compassionate beings are gift to humankind and all existence. Whether they are the mystics, contemplatives, holy ones, heroes, hermits, solitaries of every stripe, as well as everyone who falls into feeling the actual world.

As a Christian I'm always surprised there is not clearer teaching that the fall the church calls sin is incomplete. Isn't what really happens the falling through mistakes, through the bottomless compassionate love of the Christ, through the unfathomable reality of omnipresence falling idiorhythmically and isomorphically, falling through all of life with all of life? If such falling continues without end, where is the rest? The rest, I submit, does not reside in a fixed place, but in the free fall as God is falling as we are falling as we are what is in its very nature a circumincessional interpenetration within and throughout.

As a Buddhist I practice letting fall. I practice within the silent presence of what is there.

Mu-ge snoozes on black chair against brown leather soft briefcase as Gregorian Chant loops from middle room. Sando and Cesco are on kitchen floor. The cake is out of oven. Bread thaws. Unsalted butter near plastic bag to go into shop where Saskia makes soup in harbor room today -- a first.

As clean as the thought might be, we cannot kill ourselves, we cannot kill God. Try as we might -- with war or suicide -- to eliminate appearances, there is something immeasurably beyond and profoundly below appearance that upholds, sustains, and urges toward wholeness all that thinks it is not upheld, sustained, or whole.

Our complete being longs for this realization -- longs for it in each and every appearance of each and every being in each and every moment.

In our actual world this feeling behind feeling, this fact beyond fact, is our very reality.

Look as this reality.

Seeing one's self.

As oneself.

Completely.

Feeling.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

We bury our dead the way some bury their problems in the back yard. Dig up soil, lay in problem, cover over, walk away.

We do not ever get rid of problems. We learn, rather, to enter into a new relationship with them. Like the Nobel mathematician who learned to live with his delusions, we learn to live with our mistakes, but only after acknowledging them and addressing them by their correct names.

Do not believe anything on the mere authority of teachers or priests. Accept as true and as the guide to your life only that which accords with your own reason and experience, after thorough investigation. Accept only that which contributes to the well-being of yourself and others.
- Buddha

When Giovanni Bernardone, known to us as Francesco (Francis of Assisi), opened scripture three times, his lot fell on:
1. Go sell what you have,,,,(Mk 10:21)
2. Proclaim the kingdom of God. (Lk 9:60)
3. Whoever wishes to be my follower must deny his very self....(Lk 9:23)

I look at these fragments and see a way through the contemporary veil of ignorance and delusion covering these days.

1. If I do not own even the nothing I have, no adding or subtracting will take place.
2. If the sole reality is God, and God is good, then to dwell in the near presence of shucking openness is to simply say what one sees.
3. If everything is what it is, and my "self" is not separate from what is right here and now, then any idea I retain of an isolated, separate, disconnected self is denied by the very fact of what is.

One problem we have is the recurring illusion of what we think we are. We are what we are -- all of it -- the whole of what is found in the world. By thinking we are this and not that, by imagining we are better or worse than others, by clinging to ideas that promise victory or threaten defeat -- we fail to enter openly the unveiling of this present moment.

This present moment is the enormity of infinite energy continually transforming itself through our presence and awareness.

This awareness does not belong to us.
This awareness is the dwelling place of Wholeness, Integrity, Love -- what is called God.
This awareness transcends any notion of "self" or "no-self" and beyond into One and All.

Whatever we do, think, or say to anyone, we are creating the world in that image.

There is no place to hide, no other place to conquer and own, no future separate from the behavior engaged in with the illusion things will be better when we eliminate this obstacle before us.

This is it!

What we do is what is done, now and forever.

Our problem, the one we try to bury in the backyard, is the convenient delusion some are winners and some are losers, some are the chosen and some are disinherited, some are the elect and many are the outsiders cut off from secret societies of insiders. This problem of dualistic nihilism or monistic triumphalism plagues the mind of rational man and drives the human race insane.

What to do? Some say pray. Meditate. Watch. Contemplate. Do things with a concentrated mind. Breathe. Walk carefully. See through silence.

Myriad holes dug in countless backyards and dark cellars cannot cover that which longs to be uncovered.

The veil is rent. The one who came to show us the way through is the one showing us the way through. Whatever name given him or her, whatever time we say they've lived, whatever culture, race, language, or geography appeals to us as their indigenous dwelling -- it doesn't matter -- the one showing us the way through is doing so right now, right here, as you are.

Only God.

You see.

Monday, May 31, 2004

We honor
and
pray for
all dead
and deadened
by war
this memorial day.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Come, creator breath, pass through us!

Breath is sacred.

Today the Christian calendar celebrates breath passing from source through word to our hearts and minds.

Every breath is the receiving of communion.

It is transitory.

One breath follows another. Like the pattern of son following father, word emanates from source.

Each breath a birth.

Once, the church carried the story through scripture. Now the story falls into everyday parlance.

Ground, wind, and sound reconstitute trinitarian Source, breath, and word.

The filioque is resolved. One doesn't proceed from the other. One is the other. And if that is so, then, there is no other.

One, and one, and one do not make three. Rather, each one is one -- no matter how many twos and threes and further quantities try to accumulate.

Something new is born.

It is Pentecost.

Celebrate passing through.

Each, one.