Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, June 19, 2004

"Zenshi Ichimi" is a Japanese phrase meaning - "Poetry and Zen are one."

This body’s existence is like a bubble’s
May as well accept what happens
Events and hopes seldom agree
Who can step back doesn’t worry
We blossom and fade like flowers
Gather and part like clouds
Worldly thoughts I forgot long ago
Relaxing all day on a peak

- Stonehouse

Annie, Joanie, Erika, Saskia, Lloyd, Pia, Mike, and I gathered for poetry Saturday afternoon. Rilke, Schwartz, Pessoa, Whyte, Bozarth, and Connelly were there in words they wrote.

It is the moment. The moment poetry captures. The moment Zen sees. These moments gathered in small bookshop alongside small harbor in Maine of a rainy afternoon at end of spring with fire waning in fireplace.

One week ago a young man hung himself one block inland. Today poems find their way as if epitaphs for his death and all our deaths. In the poems, not specifically written for him, but written for each one passing through this way, whether alone or with others, we attend to the sound of the moment as it passes. In this attention no one is lost, no one left out. No sorrow dismissed. No hope abandoned.

Events and hopes seldom agree.

Every conflict looks for amicable environment to be fully heard and brought to safe resolution.

So, we read poems, listen to poetry clamber our awkward incline, and lend attention to the sound of what is being said.

We might not be able to divert death. We might, however, be capable of allowing life a longer hearing.

This is the practice of poetry.

This, the practice of zen.

Blossom and fade.

Gather and part.

Say and see.

Each one.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Islam believes in charging no interest.

The depression and crisis in trade mostly results from the payment of high rate of interest. The socialists have wrongly attributed such crises to capitalism. In fact interest is the greatest evil of capitalism and it is rather the worst form of capitalism, The Islamic economy which accepts a form of capitalism without interest has almost eliminated its harmful aspects. The Holy Prophet of Islam has advised Muslims to avoid seven harmful things and the third among these is interest, He stated,' Although interest brings increase, yet its end tends to scarcity'. The Holy Quran says, "That which ye give in interest in order that it may increase other peoples' wealth hath no increase with God; but that which ye give in growth tax, seeking God's countenance hath increases manifold" (XXX-39).
(--Economic System of Islam, http://www.netmuslims.com/info/economic.html)

Reading The Heart of Islam by Seyyed Hossein Nasr at Friday Evening Conversation, we spoke of money. It is money, always, that evokes passion in politics and religion. Too much, too little, unfairly taken, profligately spent -- money is the measure of personal blessing and political value in our culture.

Have it or not, like it or not, concerning the who, why, when, and where of death -- money's hand determines who lives and who dies in the world.

Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water. The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken. Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in dewdrops on the grass, or even in one drop of water.
- Dogen (1200-1253)

While nature offers us all the abundance we need, we seek wealth in all the wrong places.

Jesus Christ, although he shared God's nature, did not try to seize equality with God for himself; but emptied himself, took on the form of a slave, and became like a man -- not in appearance only, for he humbled himself by accepting death -- even death on a cross.
-- Philippians 2

Christianity is a forsaken religion because it asks us to empty ourselves and to unclutch our grasping hands from that which we consider secure wealth -- so as to move freely through life of Christ-reality with nothing for the journey.

Then he said to all, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."-- Luke 9

There is no system better than others to cement a true relationship with money, with one another, and with wholesome equanimity. More than a system, we need a sense of clear light -- one that allows us, not to stare at the opacity of monied self-definition, but to see through the medium of money and rest gaze on the many who inhabit this world with us.

Money has been and still is a difficult koan. The sound of one hand full of money is not going to clap -- not with joy, and not with the other hand fending off those who pose a threat to the money hand. So too, there are few hands motionless in casket that have tucked in them folded tens, twenties, fifties, or hundreds -- but rather, empty hands, done with scratch for gaining ground, fold finished with whatever work they found to be in their interest.

Thus the Islamic economic principles if strictly followed would eliminate the possibility of accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few and would ensure the greater circulation of money as well as a wider distribution of wealth. Broadly speaking these principles are (1) Zakat or compulsory alms giving (2) The Islamic law of inheritance which splits the property of an individual into a number of shares given to his relations (3) The forbiddance of interest which checks accumulation of wealth and this strikes at the root of capitalism.

The sound economic system evolved by Islam if given a fair trial would solve the basic economic problems which have been troubling the modern world.

(-- Economic System of Islam, http://www.netmuslims.com/info/economic.html)

There is a different and deeper 'interest' needing attention. Disparity and divisiveness have made us all indigent. Greed and dispassionate scorn have shown us the dim colorless and dismal trouble disproportionate hoarding makes of the world -- a gloomy and dangerous place.

Our interest, I submit, might better be what is taking place between us. To be between one another is to live in touch with the center place from which all life originates, and through which all life gravitates.

There is an unending between, a shared homeground -- where the human/divine sees through one set of eyes, and hears through one set of ears, the sound of one hand noiselessly alongside another hand in the eternal instant of correspondence -- the one just before arriving, and just after leaving.

Right there. The crossroad.

Blood and water.

One's heart.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Watching "Frontline" on PBS -- "The Plea" -- about justice or the lack of it in our judicial system.

One could weep at the suffering of the guilty and their victims. One also weeps for the suffering of the not guilty and the price we pay to have our integrity so abused.

There is no cowardice like refusal to admit mistakes. Or to hide behind false assertion so as to bolster the pretense of strength. This is compounded in the readying report of the 9/11 Commission.

Buddhas don't save buddhas. If you use your mind to look for a buddha, you won't see the buddha. As long as you look for a buddha somewhere else, you'll never see that your own mind is the buddha. And don't use a buddha to worship a buddha. And don't use the mind to invoke a buddha. Buddhas don't recite sutras. Buddhas don't keep precepts. And buddhas don't break precepts. Buddhas don't keep or break anything. Buddhas don't do good or evil.
- Bodhidharma (d. 533)

The system we swear by is conditioned by dualistic evaluation wherein there must always be the innocent and the guilty, the saved and damned, haves and have nots, and the wealthy and the impoverished.

This evening's conversation wondered about the metaphor of Jesus being the worded embodiment of divine life, the metaphor of crossroad wherein one stands still at center of many separate directions. This is where the divine and the human intersect -- at the heart where the visible and invisible exchange points of view -- the place where Jesus and Siddhartha Gautama suddenly disappear and the Christ and the Buddha emerge.

Two resigns. One carries on. But not the one one was. That one is gone. One still remains.

Run with eager desire to this source of life and light, all you who are vowed to God's service. Come, whoever you may be, and cry out to him with all the strength of your heart. "O indescribable beauty of the most high God and purest radiance of eternal light! Life that gives all life, light that is the source of every other light, preserving in everlasting splendour the myriad flames that have shone before the throne of your divinity from the dawn of time! Eternal and inaccessible fountain, clear and sweet stream flowing from a hidden spring, unseen by mortal eye! None can fathom your depths nor survey your boundaries, none can measure your breadth, nothing can sully your purity. From you flows 'the river which gladdens the city of God' and makes us cry out with joy and thanksgiving in hymns of praise to you, for we know by our own experience that 'with you is the source of life, and in your light we see light'."
(From Office of Readings, Feast of the Sacred Heart, by St Bonaventure,"With you is the source of life ")

Morning turns attention to Sacred Heart.

I bow to each heart. I bow to each crossroad where stillness and depth root the disappearance of each one dropping through circumstances and conditions of their lives. It is time to abandon rhetoric, to leave the deceptive reasons and narrative we tell and think to be our identity.

It is the still, profound place of heart -- heart calling us to be our truth -- that transmutes us from what once we were into what now we are.

What we call heart is the only sound the silence of God recognizes.

This silence is the loving stillness of God detected in our heart.

Follow only what heart hears, heart says, and what heart is doing.

Shut up. Listen. Go home.

Live life well.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Just before coming out from wooded path on eastern side of morning walk along Ragged, a white board with black letters leans between branches of young tree. The words on it are: “Out of Bounds”.

In this small hut
Are worlds beyond number
Living here alone
I have endless company
Already I have
Attained the essence
How could I dare
To want something higher?

- Muso Soseki (1275-1351)

Earlier, reading snippet from Theological Dictionary of New Testament, the word for “heaven” transliterated from Greek as “ouranos.”

‘Ouranos,' in classical Greek almost without exception in the singular, always means “heaven.” The word always has a double reference. Heaven is the firmament, the arch of heaven over the earth. But it is also that which embraces all things in the absolute, a “Theion.” (p.497, Vol.V, Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, Editors)

“Theos” in Greek is God.

Theion is divine fire: (brimstone, divine incense, because burning brimstone was regarded as having power to purify, and to ward off disease).

It was Cesco, Britta and I today.

“Out of Bounds” resounded on the walk. Heaven is out of bounds -- meaning, when free of what binds and closes us, we enter heaven.

Where is that heaven?

It is the place which embraces all things in the absolute. The ‘absolute’ is that which has “no restriction, exception, or qualification.” (Webster’s Seventh, p.3)

Whole.

When that which is unnecessary, binding, limiting, and fragmentary has been burnt away by fires of longing for what is whole and complete -- we glimpse heaven.

Today, we suffer the partial and incomplete. In the transformative light of alert and aware heart/mind we do the work of allowing what has been broken to be refashioned and reimagined into its primary state of wholeness within all beings.

Heaven is out of bounds.

Profound -- the unending between which flows in and through each and every being in existence .

The profound is what is. The profound is all encompassing.

Meet one another there.

Make it here.